Day in the life of an observer

Brx23

Newbie
I saw a thread that detailed a day in the life of a warfare officer and gave good insight as to what the job actually entailed. I know no two days are the same but if anyone could shed some light on the tasks an observer does that would be great.
 

Ninja_Stoker

War Hero
Moderator
This would be a particularly good theme for our marketing & website team to further develop on the RN website.

It's a common query best answered by a short video clip of those doing the job, detailing their "routine" to best describe what the job involves day to day.

Very often I get queries from potential Royal Marines & Sailors asking just this. It's a valuable insight which helps dispel myths, real or imagined. Few realise that Commandos, for example, are not shooting weapons, conducting cliff assaults and amphibious landings on a weekly basis, similarly some people imagine, despite the clue in the title, that Officers don't do mundane administrative tasks when not flying about in aircraft. The truth is, a large part of the generic Officer's job involves managing a team, looking after their training, welfare, leave, appraisal reports, addressing disciplinary issues, organising, planning meetings, report writing and similar tasks that many people imagine other people do.

The main thing I try to get across to generic enquirers is that it is a job, not a government-funded youth entertainment programme. One Mum rang me up to complain that her daughter, a Medical Assistant was employed in the medical centre, filing medical records and booking medical appointments. "That's not what she joined up for" she complained "She expected travel and adventure".

Anyway, good question, doubtless someone has answered it previously if you have a dig around the forum, but I'll see if I can find out what plans are afoot for the RN website in this particalar area as I know it was something they were looking into.
 

Ninja_Stoker

War Hero
Moderator
Just to add, my first draft as a fresh out of the box Marine Engineering Mechanic (before I got myself "specially selected" for an accelerated advancement course and it got cancelled)...HMS Collingwood pig farm. I kid you not.

One thing I have noticed about Aircrew Officers is they seem to take an inordinate amount of time to complete training due to the fact the various elements of the training pipeline may not always fully align into a seamlessly dovetailed training programme. This can mean lengthy periods between courses on "holdover", sometimes for months on end. Very often we get "half-baked" Aircrew Officers seconded to AFCOs whilst waiting for their next course. It's therefore worth asking your local AFCO whether they have an Aircrew Officer on holdover to have a chat with to get the inside edge. The other thing is, at great expense, we have a full time Aircrew Officer in Naval Recruiting HQ - they arrange aircrew acquaint courses. Again - ask your AFCO to put you in touch with the aircrew specialist recruiter.
 

Sumo

War Hero
One of my Collingwood jobs was pig swill collector from the galley's, bonus working for pig farm was blue card, needed the time if to get rid of smell?
 

Sumo

War Hero
One of my Collingwood jobs was pig swill collector from the galley's, bonus working for pig farm was blue card, needed the time if to get rid of smell?
Eventually it returned, I was sent submarines :p
 
I think, and it's a think, the aircrew pipeline works perfectly if a) you pass everything first time and b) not everyone passes. We plan for attrition (based on historical norms) and thus course sizes get smaller further along the pipeline. "Too many" pass and suddenly you're trying to get a quart in a pint pot. Add in usual aircraft problems, and you can see how holds might happen.


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As for the original question - I can take a good stab at it for an Observer at sea. Shoreside, who knows...


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Mark Dip

Midshipman
I could have a stab at answering this for you.
Normal Pinger Observer routine would be as follows.
0800 turn to, drink coffee check emails.
0830- Shareholders. Aircrew meeting setting out the plan for the day, any changes to routines, aircraft serviceability and maybe a short lesson on an aviation subject.
0930 onwards would be a mixture of divisional work and secondary responsibilities. These are normally seniority based, ranging from Survival Equip officer to SQN senior observer to CO. There’s a training officer role as a Qualified observer instructor, a confidential books officer, a Helicopter Warfare Instructor etc. The list goes on. Much of the time is spent planning, either for the day, the week, the month. Probably planning for an exercise as well or a detachment. Do not underestimate the Divisional work, normally managing and supporting a division of 6-10 ratings and senior rates. A normal day may include some physical training, most people run or go to the gym or swim.
Expect to fly most days or be in the simulator. A flight will range between 2 - 8 hours. Longer sorties are more common now covering many different flying and tactical profiles in one go. When does the day end? Tricky one. Could be an 8 hour day could be 13! Too many variables.

Hope this helps.
 

Waspie

War Hero
Shed some light on what an Observer does? Takes up 200 lbs of valuable fuel....:)
In a Wasp I, (aircrewman) did the navigation. Transfer to ASW and they gave me a walking talking officer to do the navigation!!!
More time to eat my flight nutty!!!!!!
 

Mark Dip

Midshipman
Observer do the navigation? Not really, INS/GPS moving map on a 23 inch display. Cursor a point on the map, aircraft flies to it. Want to drop a sonobuoy there, Stores system will handle that for you. Hover, same again.
 

Waspie

War Hero
Observer do the navigation? Not really, INS/GPS moving map on a 23 inch display. Cursor a point on the map, aircraft flies to it. Want to drop a sonobuoy there, Stores system will handle that for you. Hover, same again.
So do they really need him? Or is he more tacticaly biased?
How times have changed. Still, more room in the obs handbag for a rail timetable!!!!!
 

Mark Dip

Midshipman
Still needed. Ordering bag meals, sitting on the duty desk etc. :) I do them a disservice, if they were renamed they would be Airborne Tactical Misssion Managers or something similar.
 

Ninja_Stoker

War Hero
Moderator
Still needed. Ordering bag meals, sitting on the duty desk etc. :) I do them a disservice, if they were renamed they would be Airborne Tactical Misssion Managers or something similar.
Sarnie Logistician, perhaps.

I note the F35 only appears to have the one seat. Then again, as the UK has over 500 military drones, we should only need a burst sofa in a shed in Lincolnshire and a Domino pizza, I guess. Oh, and a bucket of medals.
 

Jacobus

War Hero
Back to the OP ; jokes about thalidomide wings apart it’s probably one of the hardest courses in the RN to get thru, think airborne PWO ( if that’s still the correct term ? ). Can’t say it rates up there with a Perishers’ course however attrition rate is very high, and on an ASW squadron or Merlin flight for example they really are the tacticians, frequently acting as Captain of the aircraft, much to the chagrin of most pilots.
This has been discussed previously; it’s no mean feat qualifying as an Observer. It used to be said that it didn’t really qualify you for much on Civvy Street ( as opposed to Pilot) however I know quite a few who re-catted as civvy pilot’s.
 

wave_dodger

MIA
Book Reviewer
I think, and it's a think, the aircrew pipeline works perfectly if a) you pass everything first time and b) not everyone passes. We plan for attrition (based on historical norms) and thus course sizes get smaller further along the pipeline. "Too many" pass and suddenly you're trying to get a quart in a pint pot. Add in usual aircraft problems, and you can see how holds might happen

Yes and no. It routinely gets buggered up by aircraft availability and instructor availability.
 

wave_dodger

MIA
Book Reviewer
Observer do the navigation? Not really, INS/GPS moving map on a 23 inch display. Cursor a point on the map, aircraft flies to it. Want to drop a sonobuoy there, Stores system will handle that for you. Hover, same again.
Fine until the kit fails or is jammed. That's why BOC concentrates on the basics and mental abilities.
 
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