Maritime Careers outside the Royal Navy


It's been a long time since I posted in this forum. I think my last post was regarding my final military exam in HMS Raleigh; I was asking for tips on how to pass. Since then I passed out of Raleigh, joined HMS Sultan to train as an AET, and just before that 6 month cut off date, I quit. A life in the Royal Navy as an AET was not for me, however, I quit with the intention or rejoining into a branch I did like; and as an officer.

Rejoining is a few years out of my reach at the moment. I think there is a ban on me rejoining HM forces for about a year, sort of a cool down period to allow me to think about the consequences of rejoining. Besides the ban I'm also missing a couple of qualifications I need to rejoin as an officer.

To the point; til I rejoin the RN I want a job in the Merchant Navy but I just do not know where to look. I've tried the internet but have been unsucessful. The company's I did find all require certain qualifications and high grades as a preresquite for joining. A dream come true would be an apprentice technician job on a merchant ship but I realise that's pretty far fetched. All I really want is to get on a ship. My girlfriend works for Norfolk Line ferrying people around the English Channel, I'd even do that even she wasn't already there.

Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.
Have you tried using the magic of GOOGLE?
Type "Merchant Navy Jobs" into the search engine or something alike.
Make sure you have "UK Only" ticked though.


War Hero
Book Reviewer
An Occifer candidate would have shown far more committment than give up and quit after 6 months... looks like you did yourself - and the Fleet - a big favour.


Lantern Swinger
Tbh helios, the navy can afford to be picky with officer candidates. If you relaly want to be an officer in HM forces, try the army. They cant afford to be picky, even with officers.


Lantern Swinger
Helios, you have asked your question very nicely and I will therefore try and refrain from shooting you down as a complete newbie.

The Merchant Navy - in all its parts - is a professional service, run in accordance with international rules and regulations and you will simply not get a job on a working merchant ship unless you are trained/qualified.

The training period for a MN Officer includes sea time, college work plus a number of other courses (lifeboat, firefighting, survival etc.) and that is before you can even step onboard a ship as an AB.

In the offshore business, add a helicopter escape course as well. You will have to pay for these yourself before any agency takes you on, but what can you offer us in the way of skills/qualification as experience?

You will not even get a job as a cleaner offshore unless you have these courses behind you.

Having said that, there are web sites offering cruise ship jobs if you want to work as a seagoing waiter, dancer, hotel recpetionist etc.
As I am feeling good I will even give you a link:

These days even guys on private yachts have IMO certificates.



Lantern Swinger
Are you really that green to think that the RN would employ you as an Officer after you dropped out after 6 months? Dropping out like that doesn't exactly do you any favours with the merchant navy either, you haven't exactly shown any commitment, something that employers are always looking for. Tescos are always looking for shelf stackers.


To become an officer in the Merchant Navy takes about 3 years: 2 years of study at a nautical college and about a year onboard as a cadet. Companies sponsor a number of Deck and Engineering (and sometimes Electro-Technical) cadets each year, sometimes off their own back, sometimes through an agency that specialises in MN training. Depending on your academic qualifications, you'll either study for an HND or a Foundation Degree. The bare minimum for the HND route is 5 GCSEs A to C, including Maths, English and Physics (or Double Science). You'll usually have accomodation and two meals a day paid for whilst you're at college, with an additional yearly allowance of £5,000 to £6,000. Although they can't discriminate due to age these days, it is a distinct (if unofficial) advantage to be aged 16 to 23.

Opportunities for British ratings are few and far between nowadays, due mainly to the fact that you can treat third-world ratings a hell of a lot worse and exploit them a hell of a lot more. The main employer of ratings in British shipping is now the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, who have a couple of intakes of deck, engineering, communications and supply ratings most years. Be warned though - if you join as an engineering rating (a stoker), you'll be training back at HMS Sultan, following more-or-less the same course as Royal Navy ET (ME)s. You'll also spend 8 months a year at sea. Is that what you (or your girlfriend) want?

I would guess that any MN employer (especially the RFA) will want to know exactly why you binned the RN after 6 months. Considering that the MN is a career that requires total commitment and one in which you will be away from home longer than your actually there, you need to think hard about things.

These sites will give you the low-down about the Merch:

These are the two largest MN training providers in the UK and you can apply for both on-line:

And the RFA's website, including information as to when the next rating intakes are due to start:

If they don't tell you all you need to know then - quite frankly - you're a mong.


War Hero
sgtpepperband said:
An Occifer candidate would have shown far more committment than give up and quit after 6 months....
Not entirely, some would recognise that time in the rating corps coule probably restrist their opportunities. It would need some significant self-awareness to recognise that, and it would need the ability to talk about those reasons at length in an interview.

The skill-sets are different, and some people just won't perform to capacity in either role but can perform well in the other.

That said, I'd have expected a fairly rigorous plan on how to recover before making the decision, rather than trying to work it out afterwards.


Lantern Swinger
Fleet_Sprog said:
Are you really that green to think that the RN would employ you as an Officer after you dropped out after 6 months? Dropping out like that doesn't exactly do you any favours with the merchant navy either, you haven't exactly shown any commitment, something that employers are always looking for. Tescos are always looking for shelf stackers.
This is a very simplistic view. After leaving I have spent a couple of years in the merch and met a number of ex-officers, ne of whom, a woman, had left after fleet time and was doing very well at sea as a Deck Officer.


Lantern Swinger
Do deck officers in the merchant navy get paid more or less on average than their navy counterparts?


Lantern Swinger
They don't compare directly at all. Though Deck Officers in the merch would I think get paid more once qualified as a 2nd, get more time off and get their tax back (if they are paying it in the first place). Working on box ships, tankers, etc. pays better than cruise lines but cruise lines go decent places and you can enjoy an very social life.


Lantern Swinger
Thanks wurz, I heard that even third officers on tankers can get £40,000 a year (they often pay no tax). If that is so, that is pretty cool.
I thik it might be worth mentioning just how shite the merch navy can be and how much hard work it is.

I worked for a ship management company looking after gas tankers - it put me right off ever working on them.

Very long boring hours, no booze, plus the twats at the management company constantly on your back over buying too much bog roll. Good pay and time off - but they earnt it. Sleek grey messengers of death are more fun, in my opinion. :thumright:


Lantern Swinger
SS, sorry you had a carp time. However, in my experience deck officers and engineers usually only work their standing watch. 4-8, 8-12 or 12-4. There is a lot of responsibility but that is it. Deckies will be required outside this for coming alongside, etc, also you may have to work an extra hour or two. But the onus is on standing watches, hours of rest is now closely monitored and if people are over their hours and there are not enough coc's onboard the ship may not sail. With engineers once you are 1st you daywork. Alcohol policy is down to the company many allow it but will have limits. Cruising (which is what i was doing) there were a lot of parties. For watchkeepers it was generally ok to drink after your watch but not in the 4 hours before it.
BTW IB08, thirds don't really have much responsibility. For engineers they are like the stoker of the watch taking readings, for deckies you look out a window and do whatever you are told to.


Lantern Swinger
I dont drink anyway so the no alcohol thing really doesnt bother me lol. Wurz are you currently in the merch?


Lantern Swinger
No, still at sea though doing survey work. Presently sat at anchor in the Gulf, just like being back in the mob!


War Hero
My Dad did 36 years in the Merchant Navy before retiring. He was a Chief Engineering Officer.


War Hero
Ninja_Stoker said:
Helios said:
Now I know, as has been pointed out by Ninja Stoker many times, that once you're in you may not transfer, however, after reading a post by saltaschal I've come to understand that it is possible,
I shall desist saying what I would truly feel like saying, there is only so many times you can tell people something before you get fed up, however it would be somewhat remiss of you to withdraw your application at this late stage as you will waste a training place for someone wishing to join as an AET.

Should you decide upon joining that you do not wish to be an AET, then you are free to leave & re-apply as an ET(MESM), however, if you rejoin, having submitted notice to leave (Premature Voluntary Release -PVR) if you rejoin, you would no longer have that right & would need to complete Phase 1 & 2 training, complete ET(MESM) taskbook training & complete 2.5 years return of service before you could submit 12 months notice to leave a second time around.

If you submit PVR, you may have a Caveat attached which prevents you re-joining for up to 12 months, plus the waiting time to re-apply for your former service certificates, etc.

Anyway, good luck with AET training.
Reading the initial post on this thread it's obvious there's no point stating that you were told the consequences of submitting PVR 9 months previously.
Wurz - agreed mate, but just warning anyone who might consider gas tankers. I think there were only 16 crew for a 8,000 ton ship. Every day idle cost $10K/day - so time off (especially ashore) didn't really exist.

Even the office staff were drug / alcohol tested when visiting the ship for an audit. Mind you, they are floating bombs, so fair do's.

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