A SAILOR is looking forward to hitting the high seas after becoming the oldest person ever to join the Royal Navy.

Robert Collins, from Walkden, started his basic training at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall just two days before his 37th birthday.

Recruits can join the service from the age of 16 to the day they turn 37.

Over the last nine weeks, Mr Collins and 50 other new recruits have learned the fundamental skills needed for a career in the navy.

While the average age of the trainees was 21, he was one of just three people over the age of 30.

Mr Collins, who previously worked as a stock controller, said: “Once I found out I was the navy’s oldest recruit, I felt quite proud. I think someone could equal this record in the future, but I can’t be beaten.

“I’d always considered joining the military but with a steady job I didn’t pursue it. However, with the recession the navy seemed like an excellent opportunity to have a secure career and when I looked on the website I was surprised to see I was still eligible so decided to give a go.

“Training has been great. It’s been interesting being with the younger people. I’ve become a bit of a father figure to some and in turn they’ve helped me with some of the physical aspects, which has definitely been the hardest for me.”

Mr Collins will remain at HMS Raleigh to learn how to operate beneath the waves at the Royal Navy Submarine School.

He will then do further training to learn his trade as a logistician (supply chain).

Mr Collins, a former pupil of St George’s RC High School, said: “I hope to go on to complete the full 18 years in the Royal Navy and climb the promotion ladder as far as I can. By the time I retire at 55, that hopefully will be my working life done.”