Joining the Royal Navy - A step-by-step account

Evening all,

Firstly, I would just like to say what a pleasure it was coming across a site like this. Most people who consider a career in the armed forces have lots of preconceptions about the lifestyle, and you've certainly dispelled a lot of the myths I've come across.

I thought it would be a good idea to start this thread and keep it regularly updated. I'll talk about all the significant milestones in the application process, through to training and beyond.

The reason that I'm looking to join the Royal Navy above the other armed forces is because of the unique heritage, operational capabilities and lifestyle. I also trust that with the right level of commitment, rising through the ranks will be no issue.

I've always been academically able, but certain circumstances prevented me from taking my GCSEs. I would hope to achieve basic GCSE qualifications during the first year or two and then study for A levels. This prevents me from joining as an officer, but I know if you work hard then promotion to commissioned officer is possible. Has anyone been through this?

Ultimately, I am joining for a full career because anyone who invests that much time and effort in my development deserves to be paid back ten-fold. Hopefully I get the chance to specialise in intelligence, so any recommendations on that career path would be great.

So the next step for me is an initial visit to the careers office in Holborn. Any words of wisdom would be very much appreciated!!



Lantern Swinger
If you want to do Int, just so you know, there's no actual specific branch for that in the Navy. Closest you'll get is the Communications Technician (CT) branch. However, you mentioned your lack of GCSEs, so this may be a stumbling block for CT as the BR states:
Education standards – GCSE Grade C or better in English Language and Mathematics
. However, there may be exceptions, best wait until a careers adviser rocks up. There's also the Electronic Warfare (EW) branch, or the Gollies as they're known. They're not actually an independent branch anymore, having been subsumed into the WS branch. If you were to join as a WS, there's a chance they might put you on the EW course if you show the interest and aptitude but again there's no guarantee. Both of these branches don't specialise in Int per se but deal with it most of the time.

We have specialist Int officers these days, mostly guys who have come from the EW & CT ranks so there's another possible path to the dark side.

And finally, there's rumours of an actual Int branch being formed but they're probably just gash dits so don't get your hopes up.

As for your GCSEs/A levels etc, you may notice that waiting times for WS and CT are about 2 years apiece, so that could give you plenty of time to smash in your exams. Anyway, enough of my rants, good luck with whatever choices you make. Just in case you're wondering who or what I am, I was an EW but have sinced transferred to CT (possible also but not guaranteed) to further my attempts at specialising in Int so I know exactly what you have in mind. If you have any questions, feel free to PM me.

edited for gash html...


War Hero
Welcome to the site.

Top tips:

Ú¤ Always call into your AFCO first thing - they're busy after lunchtime.

Ú¤ Make sure you maintain contact by updating mobile numbers etc.

Ú¤ Submit request to sit Recruiting Test

Ú¤ Pass Recruiting Test

Ú¤ FULLY complete & return all application forms- Check Full postal addresses of nominated referees.

Ú¤Ú¤ Pass eyesight test, submit completed medical questionnaire.

Ú¤ Pass Medical

Ú¤ Pass Pre-Joining Fitness Test

Ú¤ Pass Selection Interview

Ú¤ Return FULLY completed Security Questionnaire- must be BLACK ink, covering a full 5 years of previous addresses of yourself & parents (& partner, if applicable)

Ú¤ Ensure both references are completed & returned by your nominated referees- CHECK.

Ú¤ Provide 4 X colour passport photographs.

Ú¤ Return all completed entry documentation upon receipt- do not delay

Ú¤ Possess a valid passport- CHECK
What a breath of fresh air this is, someone who can form a decent sentence, spell and knows how to punctuate!

You are correct in your assertion that without qualifications you aren't able to join the RN as an officer, you are also correct that you can attain a commission from within the 'other ranks'. This is however not in any way guaranteed and requires a lot of hard work, patience and more than a little help from those above you.

Intelligence wise, the only job that's vaguely related to that kind of thing is CT, if you're interested in proper intelligence stuff though (as much as I hate to do it) I have to recommend the (filthy brownjobs) Army. Example here:

With regard to your initial visit to the careers office, dress smart, have a shave, be polite.
Oh I can't believe i forgot to tell you this story! maybe it will put my feelings about the Army into perspective.

On Friday, I was quite eager to get going with the recruitment process so I made a visit to the AFCO in Blackheath. I didn't actually realise it was all Army recruiters until he started talking to me... and the one-way talking didn't stop there either.

After describing the battlefield as a football pitch, and asking me whether i wanted to be a striker, mid-fielder or defender, i left feeling really quite dumbed down. Oh, and I'm booked in for the B.A.R.B test on Monday morning too.. he'll be getting a call at 8.30AM to say that I'm off fishing.

The RN CAs from Holborn do actually visit the Army AFCO at Blackheath to meet potential candidates. Details on the link.

If you would like to go up to Holborn, however, could I suggest that you give the CAs a call first? The reason I suggest this is that the Careers Advisors in the various branches hold Introductory Presentations once a week or so, and you could ask if you could go up on the day when Holborn holds its Pres; they show DVDs about the Navy and people ask any questions they might have. You could sit in on that. Just gives your trip in to town extra value.

By the way, there are also RN CAs in Ilford, if that suits you better.
Captainbvious: Manners are free, and i was fortunate enough to be born and raised in the UK which means my education was also free :)

I think my main 3 choices are going to be EW, CT or WS in that exact order. Becoming the best at what I do is the only way I could hope to be recognized, and I'm sure a bit of brown nosing won't go amiss...

In all honesty, I could pass my GCSE exams tomorrow (metaphorically of course) if I was brought up to speed on the various course curriculum. Getting them done and out of the way is priority at the moment, so that would be quite an effective way of using the waiting time. Thanks Jock.

Didn't they take our intelligence branch away in the 60s? do you know why? anything to do with getting rid of all but 2 MI branches?

I note your choices of role.

The selection of jobs which will be available to you will be affected by how well you do in the RT. Different scores allow different opportunities.

Thank you for both posts.

In regards to asking about the introductory presentations, what a cracking idea. I spoke to the Holborn office after my hour of embarrassment in Blackheath on Friday, but heard no mention of this presentation so will definitely ask.

Have you got any feedback on the RT test itself then? in terms of structure, difficulty, potential scores etc

Thanks again
judge said:
Guzzler said:
Pretentious prick
I think he meant me :)

Nice to meet you too Guzzler! what's your role in the RN then?


Still a bad day.


I used to live in Greenwich. It's nice, but not as nice as Cornwall.

Don't wish to talk now, as I'm reading poetry and sorting out my cutlery.


Book Reviewer
Your bound to take abit of banter/abuse/ribbing, Judge. Personally I would'nt post a running commentary, but you crack on as long as you remember this is'nt the Disney channel. Good luck.

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