A ROYAL Naval Reservist (RNR) from Durham is achieving an operational first in support of the Royal Navy.

Leading Seaman Kevin Jackson is one of 12 reservists from the UK spending four months onboard Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Sir Bedivere in the Northern Arabian Gulf.

They are adding to the ship's force protection team, at sea, providing specialist skills.

This is the first long-term deployment of the General Service Seaman Reserve (GSSR) branch supporting the Royal Navy Fleet on operations.

Members of the branch train in weapons and combat techniques, allowing them to provide a deterrent force capable of guarding ships.

Leading Seaman Jackson, 44, joined Gateshead-based RNR unit HMS Calliope in 1997 after 15 years as a full-time member of the Royal Navy, earning the South Atlantic and Gulf medals.

He combines his job as a warehouse worker for Coca Cola with training sessions, between four to six weekends of instruction and a minimum 12 days' specialist training each year.

He said: "We undertake a lot of training to prepare us for just this sort of deployment and I'm really looking forward to putting all that training into practice.

"It's also a real buzz to know that I'll be playing my part in contributing to the Royal Navy's efforts in making the waterways of the Northern Arabian Gulf as safe as they can be."