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Joining as a Systems Engineer as an ETO on Cruise Ships

FrostyColdWaves

Midshipman
I am a ETO working in the cruise ship industry and due to the current climate I am looking at other opportunities in the merchant navy. I left college within the last year and have attained my ETO CoC. I just have a few questions for those who can answer them.

1) Having experience already working as an ETO and having a CoC, does this mean I can join as a 2O or do all new officers start at 3O?
2) How long does it take to go from rank to rank? For instance in my company you have to sail for at least 400 days in rank to go up (3O to 2O).
3) Has anyone got experience taking up the offer of becoming a Chartered Engineer, if so what does this involve?

This is just what I have in my head for now but I might think of some more. Thank you to those who reply.
 

Random

Lantern Swinger
I am a ETO working in the cruise ship industry and due to the current climate I am looking at other opportunities in the merchant navy. I left college within the last year and have attained my ETO CoC. I just have a few questions for those who can answer them.

1) Having experience already working as an ETO and having a CoC, does this mean I can join as a 2O or do all new officers start at 3O?

No not all new (to the RFA) officers start as a 3/O, however as you are probably aware we run our own ETO cadetship and someone who passed through that and has 1 years experience would still be a 3/O band C (lowest payband for the rank), I suspect recruitment would see this being your comparable level.

2) How long does it take to go from rank to rank? For instance in my company you have to sail for at least 400 days in rank to go up (3O to 2O).

Its a combination of sea time, qualifications and trip reports. Basically points mean prizes! the higher the points the higher on the promotion list you will be (advancement through bands/ranks is only on required numbers by HQ).

So the minimum a 3/O band C needs to move to Band B is a 180 sea days at this rank, done 1 out of 18 courses, and demonstrated certain abilities in your trip reports. Achieving this would put you on the advancement list (probably at the bottom), to actually advance you will need to ensure you are top of the list (or at least near it). So more sea days, more courses are the easiest way. Once you are at Band A for a rank you are considered elegible for being offered Temporary Acting roles and for being placed on the waiting list for promotion.

As a guesstimate for a newly qualified 3/O to reach 2/O (SE) you are currently looking at around 5 years minimum of hard work (interrupted by leave) and training. To get from 2/O(SE) to 1/O(SE) similar it would be amazing to do it faster than 5 years. For the majority promotion takes longer ...

3) Has anyone got experience taking up the offer of becoming a Chartered Engineer, if so what does this involve?

Not got to Chartered yet, but to tell the truth I am being lazy at chasing it. IMarEST offers a fast-track registration process for the RFA and you can join the Institute / become an EngTech pretty fast (something like holding 3/O rank with 3 satisfactory trip reports). IEng is available in the same way at 2/O rank (but does involve an interview with the Institution), Chartered is not offered via this route until 1/O Band A for SEs.

However there is nothing stopping you applying earlier and doing the hard work to map your skills to UKSpec, and proving that you have sufficient academic ability to register as Chartered (equivalent of a Masters Degree in an appropriate subject)


NB:
Most of my friends who moved on from the RFA to being ETOs on Cruise Ships were automatically bumped up one rank on crossing over. The RFA likes its Third/Second/First Officers to be more experienced/qualified than the norm in the Merchant Service. Or another way of putting it, a fair few of our 3/Os have been ex RN Chief Petty Officers with 22 years experience; having an ETO CoC is nice, but you will be competing for promotion with people who have years more hands on knowledge.
 
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FrostyColdWaves

Midshipman
Thanks for the run down @Random.

I know a lot of people like to go RFA to cruise/other merch route but seeing as the starting salary at my company is £25.5k for a 3O, with same leave as RFA, it is quite disparaging. The company also do something that I guess would be similar to your trip reports but spread over multiple trips where you have to show understanding of a list of topics in order to go up a pay band.

Is there a public guide anywhere of the pay bands? All I know about the pay is that it starts at £35k and can go up by £60k upon getting to CO.

I actually have a RNR application in right now (waiting on Capita :rolleyes:) but after looking at the RFA it does seem like a viable alternative. Coupled with the civil service pension it seems ever more enticing.
 

Random

Lantern Swinger
Is there a public guide anywhere of the pay bands? All I know about the pay is that it starts at £35k and can go up by £60k upon getting to CO.

As we have been restricted to the government austerity requirement of receiving below inflation pay increases for the last decade, our cash pay is not as good as it once was (and is a source of grumpyness for a lot of people). The trade unions (Nautilus and the RMT) are actively negotiating / campaigning to improve this.

Nothing recent is available, as the RFA does not routinely publish them externally. The last published (via FOI) is the one for the 2016/2017 year, add on to it 3 years worth of civil service pay rises and you get roughly (for 2020) the following:

Rank
Band A
Band BBand C
CHIEF OFFICER (SE)£67K£65K£63k
FIRST OFFICER (SE)£61k£59K£57k
SECOND OFFICER (SE)£55k£50k£45k
THIRD OFFICER (SE)£43k£39k£36k

If you fancy making a new FOI request please use https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/new/mod and then others can see the response as well.
 

EightSixteen

Badgeman
Edit: Scrapped my original post as I didn't realise you were a recently qualified ETO.

Random is probably correct in assuming you'll come in at 3/O Band C. Once qualified our own RFA cadets come in at 3/O C and you'd be comparable with them in ability but not experience on RFA platforms.

I'm aware of at least two recent (2017) lateral entrants that've came in as 2OSE's from the Oil & Gas downturn. One had his CoC the other didn't but both had at least 15-20 years experience.

I came into the company as a lateral entry 3/O Band C and have done pretty well in becoming Band A & ready for promotion after five 4-month trips. I'm aware of 2 others that joined the same time as me are in the same position, both hard workers.
 
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