Entry selection into the Royal Navy as an Officer.

Discussion in 'Diamond Lil's' started by slim, Nov 23, 2006.

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  1. In this modern age it would be nice to see direct entry officer dropped almost completely from RN recruiting.
    Why not make it so that everyone joins at Raleigh and completes basic naval training. At this stage any rating wishing to be considered for a commission could do part two training as a seaman. During these two periods the wheat should be sorted from the chaff.
    Ratings selected for officer would then go to Dartmouth, others could then recategorize to branches they were considered suitable for.
    Hopefully this way ratings selected would make better officers and those not selected could either leave or remain in service.
    This would not apply to officers joining as doctors or those with relevant engineering degrees sponsored by the admiralty.
    In the 60s all WREN officers joined as ratings first.
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Didnt this happen in the days of National Service?
  3. Yes, what a great idea. And while we're at it, why don't we abolish saluting, uniform, orders and anything else that isn't all New Labour and "modern"? And engineers?! That's the one branch that doesn't need any officers at all - the CPOs and WOs do all the work and have all the knowledge.

    Officers are selected because they are a certain type of future leaders and managers, as determined by the RN as what is needed. Ratings who are identified as future leaders are also selected for a commission, if they want to, or they can stay on the lower deck and do a different (but no less valid or difficult) sort of leadership on promotion to LH and above.

    Of the RN officer corps, about a third are now ex-ratings, which shows that not only are we the most egalitarian service, we've also got a good technique at spotting those who can be officers. Of the rest, 85% of new direct entry officers are graduates, who (by definition) are the brightest of their generation. Make them join as ratings, and all the bright ones would say "sod this" and do a different job. You'd lose the quantity, you;d lose the quality and within a few years you'd lose the navy. There are alternative ways of training officers (the CTCRM technique could work) but if it ain't broke, why change it?
  4. So all the chinless wonders that I served with are no longer selected as officers, nor all the ex public schoolboys that I encountered. Many in my day (and I left in 1985) were in the wardroom because it was their birthright. It was said that Prince Andrew once asked a rating why he hadn't gone to university. The reply "because I got the same grades as you sir". Were these really quality officers?
    Lets really go back to the old days and make officers purchase their commissions and also purchase each rank they attained.
    Anyone worthy of a commission joining as a rating would get one, it would just be a little harder to attain.
  5. Slim, RN Officers traditionally did not purchase their Commissions, cf. the Army. This is why we are Officers and not gentlemen, as most Officers in the grand old days of yore were promoted from the lower decks, as against the Army where parents purchased a Commission for their son.

    Are you under the impression that Officers do not get basic Naval training in BRNC? I was chatting one of the PTIs (a LH) a while ago who was one of the BRNC PTIs during my time there, and he said he had utmost respect for Officers now as he saw that we do as much (if not more) crap than Ratings when under training!

    I also agree with Geoffrey - everyone is in the RN to do a different job. Team work is about everyone using their own abilities to get a job done: not everyone doing the same job and ending up with a cluster.

    Incidentally, I believe the RN has the highest proportion of SD Officers of the three Services.

    I fear this thread may continue for some time...
  6. silverfox

    silverfox War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    Birthright? What on earth are you talking about.... I don't think this thread will continue for too long as it is too ludicrous to last.

    Slim, Officers do their own version of Part I training at BRNC which is harder and more intensive than at Raleigh. To add the extra time would not be of any benefit in terms of time or cost. Those who would not make the grade are picked up already during their time at Dartmouth and as a WarfareOfficer spends a year there, including time in a mess deck at sea, he/she has to jump through far more hoops than his Raleigh counterpart.

    If it is that easy to become an officer - why did you not get a commission, or was it that if you joined the ranks of the Wardroom you would no longer be able to justify your outdated classist views....
  7. Just how do you define a chinless wonder? Certainly when I went to Dartmouth you could go there with 5 O Levels/grades and it was certainly not the preserve of public schoolboys otherwise I would not have been there nor would many of my mates.

    Yes diresct entry officer schemes have their failures, so promotion from within the ranks schemes, I have met SD officers who were well past their sell by date, and just look at some senior police officers, they all have to start on the beat as a constable.

    Personally I think the RN should open up it's officer recruitment even more on the direct entry, especially on the technical side, and in what used to be the supply side.

    As it is the navy has taken the selection of suitable candidates for commission from the lower deck very seriously for a long time. I was placed on the retired list some 10 years before you left and I not only remember having to score every rating in my division for suitability for a commision but also the periodic exhortations to find more candidates. The lower deck was seen not just as a valuable source of officers but an essential source. I think in general that the innoculation of the wardroon with SD officers did improve the quality effectively.

  8. The wardroom is not for everyone. I was happy in the navy as a POAEM(R) until I decided to take day release and obtain my ONC in telecommunications. Once educated to this level it was apparent that my educational qualifications were better than many of the officers that I served with. I have no problems with the traditions of uniform or saluting and I am certainly not new labour. The way that many officers spoke to and treated other ranks however did bother me. As a senior rate I treated my junior rates with respect and firmness and made a point of never talking down to them, many officers were unable to do this.
    On leaving the service I worked for British Aerospace for seven years as a senior field engineer. This was an officer status position which meant living in the wardroom during sea trials. The respect shown to me by officers was completely different to my time in the service (perhaps this was because the navy were paying my company £700+ per day for my services).
    Every officer should spend 6 months living & working as a junior rating on a seagoing ship. This may instill a little respect in them for their subordinates.
    One last point.
    A ship could proceed safely to sea without any officers on board. Could it do the same without any senior rates?
  9. silverfox

    silverfox War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    Slim - your last statement in your latest post is so out of touch with reality I'm not going to dignify it with a response.
  10. Ditto. See previous posts about YOs time at sea (IST/CFT).
  11. Slim

    Making a prat do 6 months sea time as an OD will not stop him being a prat. And having said that being a prat is not soley an officers priviledge POs can do it quite well too, even without an ONC. Qualifications especially those of an academic nature (anything gained in school, college or university) do not guarantee the application of comon sense.

    As indicated by the posters above your final statement indicate the lack of reasoned argument in your stance.

    I hope you feel better after the weekend.
  12. Slim, you appear a well balanced chap, both chips weighing the same and equally displaced on either side of your clavicle, I assume? Was an HNC too difficult then, a degree too time consuming?

    Rarely have I read such drivel in a thread. I spent a year as a middie at sea in three ships and life would have been a damned sight easier spending it in one department learning a trade/skill than having to learn about everybody's jobs in turn and take the daily sh1t from above and below which build's a subbies back bone.

    As to proceeding safely to sea, I have yet to meet a Senior Rating with a BWC for a FF/DD or qualified as a navigator, or come to that CO. In your branch I imagine you thought all the effort that goes into planning ship's complements and watch and station bills existed just to give officers something to do ashore and the joss a migraine at sea?
  13. Oooooooooooooooooooooooooh I can't help it, I'm going to bite!

    You're right Slim, a ship could let go all lines, start the engines and put the wheel on with no supervision/input at all from officers. And then, with no-one on board with any training or knowledge of shiphandling, let alone tidal stream, wind shear and tug handling, the ship would promptly smash into the jetty, causing injuries and damage. Thats assuming that the port would let anyone sail without any formal qualifications (ie STCW II.2).

    If, by some miracle, that some SR knew how to handle the ship (no offence to SRs at all - there just isn't a branch in the RN who gets taught this, unlike in the German Navy), so that it was pointing in the wrong direction, who would conduct the pilotage out of port? Despite a few high profile screw ups on transit (ie not into/out of a port), 99.9999% of warship entries and departures do not involve any navigational incident at all, because like 'em or loathe 'em, Warfare officers conduct a minimum of 3 years of intense nav training to enable them to keep the rest of the ship's company safe from "all dangers of navigation and collision" (QRRNs).

    And even then, after all that, if by some miracle the ship gets to sea at all without mishap, what happens when the lads get bored, the food gets crap and someone gets injured. Who's going to fly the Lynx on board for the CASEVAC? The SMR? And don't even get me onto berthing a ship (much harder than unberthing).

    All in all, Slim, I wouldn't dream of telling a Sonar maintainer, Radar operator, MEOOW2 or CPO Caterer how to do his job, no matter what rank I was. So how about admitting that you don't know how to do mine, and neither does any other SR on board.

    PS According to an article in Focus I read a few years ago, the RN officer corps is 35% ex-rating, compared to 17% for the RAF and 3% for the Army. Furthermore, the BRNC Dartmouth entry for Jan 2005 was 10% privately educated (they publish the schools in the Times at the Dec 05 passing out parade, and I was writing a study at the time), compared to 85% for Sandhurst.

    So once that large chip has been taken off your shoulder, smothered in brown sauce and eaten off a plastic plate (;)) would you kindly shut up?
  14. As a POAEM(R) the ONC qualification was gained rather late in life (aged 37). Most mechanics in those times would never have gained the qualification as day release was normally only granted to artificers. However while serving on a tri-service unit at Boscombe Down the squadron leader in charge firmly suggested that myself and a POAEM(L) should take advantage of the day release scheme. This we did and gained our ONCs. Never during my time in the RN had I been made aware that this facility was available to mechanics. I do have an HNC which was gained after leaving the service. As for a degree, as a field engineer travelling the world this was a no starter. yes I know that there is the O.U. but you try getting your assignments in from some place in deepest China.
    My ONC & HNC qualifications have stood me in good stead and were worth studying for.
    So I have an RAF Sqdn leader to thank for initiating my further education and a sh!tload of so called RN officers for keeping me in my place.
  15. So the real reason you've gone on this crusade is because you feel you have been "kept in your place" by a bunch of Officers who you were higher qualified than? Life in a blue suit mate - I'm higher qualified than a lot of senior Officers but I don't go around trying to usurp them!

    I understand why you're pissed off, but I think disbanding the entire RN Officer corps would be a tad over-reactive, don't you?
  16. The theory of every entrant to the navy doing an initial common course is not a bad idea. I believe that in Nelsons day Midshipmen were 'turned before the mast' on occcasion and became better officers for it.

    While I do not advocate the closing of the Naval College or sailors training establishments, common training together for a few weeks for officers and ratings would not lead to the total destruction of life as we know it but would enhance the teamwork that running a ship requires. Obviously Officers and Sailors have their different jobs and it's foolish to say that one lot can get on without the other, a ship runs on the symbiotic relationship between oficers and sailors and if either is removed then the whole falls apart.

    There are occasionally some problems with direct entry officers ie: Doctors, Lawyers, Dentists etc. (Remember the SWAN drama F169?) but on the whole the system works well.

    BTW, as a rating ( CPO) I had a BWC for an Oberon class (surfaced) and once I got over the initial fear, I loved the feeling of power it gave me:)
  17. Please read the original post correctly.
    I am not trying to disband the officer corps. What I would like to see though is the officer corps treating their subordinates as fellow human beings and not some form of pond life. I feel that a six month joint training program for all ranks may teach these junior officers a bit more respect for ratings in their charge.
  18. During your time at sea did you never have contact with IST or CFT Young Officers? They are under BRNC training but attached to Ships for various periods of time. They live in a JR messdeck and essentially live as JRs including standing rounds and polishing flats etc. They have a hectic time as they have to familiarise themselves with each department and are basically dogsbodies. As has been said by F169, this is all "character building".

    A 6-month joint training programme? You sound like you write Government papers! Very hard to argue against, as this would entail stating that team-building exercises are of no value (very non-PC), but in the Ships I have served in I have never seen or heard of any major issues between the Wardroom and lower decks. Every now and then there is a fall-out but that is to be expected in any walk of life.

    It sounds like you had some shitty advice and, on behalf of the RN Officer corps, I apologise. However, making us all have group hugs for 6 months would not have prevented this.
  19. sgtpepperband

    sgtpepperband War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    Occupational hazard, I'm afraid!

    Having said that, I agree - I remember (dunno if this is still the case, though) when Wren Officer Candidates did basic Part 1 training in Dauntless Division with all other female ratings. RM Officers also train alongside JR Royals during basic training; the benefits being that those JRs respect their superior officers as they knew what the officers had gone through to achieve their rank. With RN Officers a JR HAS to respect him by virtue of his rank, without any knowledge or insight into what he has done to achieve his commission.

    I recall seeing the Sir John Harvey-Jones "Troubleshooter" documentary a few years ago when he advocated combining all training for Officers and JRs at either Raleigh or Dartmouth to benefit the Service (financially and for the purpose of morale). The Admiral in charge of Dartmouth at the time could not/would not see the benefits and spluttered and blustered his way through the usual excuses ("tradition", "cost", etc.) but finally admitted that it would never happen, as he believed that it would be detrimental to an officer under training if he was seen to be failing or struggling in view of JRs!

    The class system is dead? Don't bet on it...
  20. Angry doc, you do not seem to be grasping the point. While these young officers are at sea living as you say as junior rates, they are all of one company. Now split them up and put a couple in each of the junior rates messdecks. Make them live with the junior rates and I would put money on it that many would make a lot of friends on the lower deck. Friends who are the future POs and CPOs.

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