Merchant Navy

Discussion in 'RFA' started by Sygnus, Feb 20, 2014.

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  1. Hello all,

    (I hope this is posted in the right place!)

    I am wanting to change my career. I've become very bored and frustrated with the office day-to-day and I have always been interested in a career at sea. I've been trying to get onto the oil and gas platforms for a few years now, with no luck thus far (no experience and all that), and over the last few months have started looking at getting into the Merchant Navy. The route I am wanting to take is to do the Navigation Deck Officer Training Course / Marine Engineering Course - or something along those lines at college. I have been speaking to my local college and also to a number of shipping companies about the best option for me. My hesitation about it is that I am 27, and there are 3 years at college before I'd be qualified, and only some of the shipping companies that would sponsor me through the college course can guarantee a job at the end of it. As well as that, there isn't a huge amount of money available during the course to support myself. It's a large pay cut to take considering I am in full time employment at the moment. But it's something I'd happily do if there was a career at the end of it.

    At my age, I need to make a career out of it. So I am wondering if there are people reading this who've been there, done it and would recommend it? Or perhaps anyone who could recommend alternate / quicker ways of starting a career at sea?

    Any useful advice would be appreciated!

  2. Seadog

    Seadog War Hero Moderator

    Moved. Not Current Affairs like Ukraine, Syria, floods, the economy....... the RFA forum is the nearest that this website has to your career question.

    You'll need GCSEs at B or above in maths, physics or dual science( get the full story on the forums here ) to get started on an RFA deck or engineer cadetship. Commercial companies may let you apply with grade Cs but the maths and science doesn't get any easier for both cadet streams.

    The nautical press trumpet the achievements of some very mature cadets ( > 40 ) and I know of a handful of RFA cadets / recently qualified officers in their early 30s.

    Or you could apply join as a rating in the RN or RFA. British ratings are a vanishing breed in the commercial world.

    Become a pirate off the Horn of Africa. No experience necessary, big rewards possible, early grave likely.
  3. Perhaps starting as a rating in the RFA would be a course of action you could consider. A decent paying job (Starts at just under 20000, including bonuses etc).

    The different options for you are: Comms, Deck, Motorman (Mechanic) or Kitchen.
    How to join the RFA | RFA | Royal Navy

    It seems the only unqualified vacancies at the moment are catering, but more vacancies come up occasionally.
  4. Subsunk

    Subsunk Badgeman Book Reviewer

    Welcome to RR.

    If you are after a sea career, your big decision point is going for either the RN or the MN. To find out more about the latter, look at the specialist maritime colleges such as Glasgow, Warsash, Fleetwood etc to get a sense of officer entry routes and to get in touch with the sector. If you are still interested, you need to get a cadetship from a sponsoring company. Who you go with determines what your first experience at sea will be like: oil companies will put you on a tanker, cruise companies on a cruise ship etc. I have recently been on board a North Sea standby vessel and I was massively impressed by the professionalism of the crew and the immaculate state of the vessel, so I will recommend that you check out the ERRVA website as they are the top end of the current MN alongside the RFA. The latter has been mentioned here earlier. RFA service gives you recognisable civvy quals while you get sea service in a wide range of vessels, so the marine world is your oyster. You also get the military experience and banter.

  5. - Thanks, I'd no idea how busy this forum was, or where it'd be most likely to get read. I assumed it'd get moved to the relevant page.

    - South Tyneside college, where I'd likely be studying, requires 5 GCSEs at C or above for either pathway, but upon speaking to the sponsor companies, they have different requirements, doesn't make all that much sense to me as to why there'd be a discretion.

    - Do you know if there is a structured career path for Ratings? Or progression opportunities?

    - Pirate would be good, although they're not the hearty lads that the Golden Age of Piracy produced, so I'll pass.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2014
  6. Thanks for the info. I shall certainly read more into joining as a Rating. My initial thought was to apply to the sponsor companies, see where I get with those as there is an awful lot of competition (not sure how much competition there would be for Rating jobs). If unsuccessful, see if I could then join as a Rating. College intake is not until September so I've got a fair amount of time to continue my research.
  7. Thanks for the welcome! Yeah I've been to a Shipping Open Day at South Tyneside College earlier this month. I met with cadets of the sponsor companies and the college alike. It was informative, but there were a lot of answers from each company that contradicted the others. So after speaking to someone at the RFA, they recommended I look here and see what I could find out from people in the industry. I think Navigation is what I'd want to do. But the engineering pathway is more transferable to areas such as oil and gas industry - should the merchant navy career not work out.

    Oil Support Vessel would be of interest to me, for sure. Thanks for the recommendation.

    I'm wanting to gain more insight into what life is like at sea, I've read a lot of blogs /websites etc., watched a lot of videos and all that, but I'd imagine they still don't give all the insight into what it's really like, so if you've experience you're willing to share, I'd be keen to read it!

  8. Seadog

    Seadog War Hero Moderator

    The grade requirement is set by the sponsoring company. If their experience is that there are more academic drop outs among those with C for mathematical subjects than B and above, they may raise the requirement. What the college accept has nothing to do with it-they are not paying. Nonetheless most commercial companies will accept applicants with C. The RFA want a minimum of B. It's the taxpayer who loses when RFA cadets drop out.
  9. Seadog

    Seadog War Hero Moderator

    With such scepticism regarding the full story, why do you think you'll get it here? Most posters' experience is RN, some from the days of sail, some younger ones from the days of coal and 50 midshipmen (cadet) Gunrooms or 100 junior rates mess decks.
  10. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Just for info with regard RN Engineering Technicians - max age upon entry is 30. Current waiting times to join from test to entry is between 6-12 months.
  11. Blimey! That's good news for wannabee ET's!
  12. They gave you gash advice. Try looking here instead.
  13. Seadog

    Seadog War Hero Moderator

    Probably not the first port of call ( I know) for someone looking for information but chapter 1 of the MCA Approved Doctors' Manual is a layman's - shoreside doctors' - guide to ships, crews and related stuff.

    About merchant ships and crews
  14. Can only echo this Seadog. Cracking book and lots of information!
  15. Early (ish) thirties here and just started a cadetship with the RFA. I can only echoe what's already been said but feel free to ask anything I may be able to help you with. Do realise though that the RFA won't budge on the requirement to have those Bs and higher qualifications don't 'overrule' them. If you don't have Bs, either resit or look to a different company.
  16. Because this is where I was advised to go by someone working for the RFA.
  17. Thank you.
  18. Thanks, I'll give it a read.
  19. I see, that's strange to me, as the person to whom I spoke with at the RFA saw my grades (I have a degree, but I only managed a C at GCSE Maths) and sent me an application pack anyway.

    May I ask, was what you were doing before joining the RFA related to a career at sea? Or was it all new to you? Are you enjoying the course thus far? Which pathway did you go down for your cadetship? A difficult one, but how difficult is the maths on the course? I had asked for some examples of course material from South Tyneside College, but I am yet to hear back from them.

  20. exJenny

    exJenny War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    Hope that's not true because I know of a number of folks, including myself, who got told it's B or above, and absolutely nothing else will do, in GCSE Maths, English and dual science.

    I'm not angry, I'm just happiness challenged.

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