Mine Warfare

Ive been looking through RR and there does seem to be a complete lack of concise information regarding the Mine Warfare trade (for newbies were Mine Warfare (MW) not WS(MW)) or small ships in general.

So I just wanted to say that if you want to ask questions regarding MW or small ships please feels free to PM me. I am a serving MW rating so I will try to answer with the best of my knowledge anything you ask or find out the answer with the constrants that I have on my time (being a serving member that is).

When the same sort of questions start to crop up all the time I will post the answers on this thread so I dont need to repeat myself all the time. Im sure that you will appreciate that. As they say there is no thing as a stupid question, just a stupid answer.

Hope I can be of some help though in the future.

gunna hit u with a complete and utter bone question :D
im on waiting list for mine warfare, but just wondering what i could go onto in civvi street (which relates to MW specialist) after my career if everything goes to plan
Just had a quick Gand at civvi ROVs n looks like u can earn a decent wedge, main thing aslong as I have a gd time inside n get my daily ammount of banter I'll be happy
Hey YamYamDabber,

I passed my interview a few months ago and I'm just waiting for a date now. No idea if you'll still be checking this but I have a few questions I would really appreciate being answered if you don't mind...
Basically, what's it really like? I can only learn so much from the RN site, here etc So I'm still not sure what a day in the life of a mine warfare spec really includes. Ie what are the shift pattens when you are along side and out at sea. How long is spent mine hunting/sweeping/seafox/sonar compared with cleaning etc? Also what type of work do you do when you're not at sea?
Also how often do you get to sea and for how long at a time normally. The RN website said around 6-9months every 2.5-3 years. Is that basically correct? (I'm hoping to be based at Faslane if that makes a difference) Speaking of which, how likley is it that I will get to choose where I am based?
I would really like to know anything and everything from Collingwood to working in the Gulf. Anything you could tell me about anything would be an amazing help.
Sorry if this is all a bit keen or long winded but I'm really excited and that...
Thanks mate.

in order:

MWs are generally 1 in 3 at sea, which means you spend 4 hours on the bridge then 8 off. During the working day (0800 - 1600) you'll spend your off-watch time working under the supervision of your LS(MW) or PO(MW), doing whatever tasks needs doing. That may be cleaning, but also include work on the equipment, getting stuff ready for up coming operational periods, or maintenance work on the upper deck. Watch systems might change, but you'll get at least 6 - 7 hours in your bed a night. Note, this is the "normal" routine - if you have an inspection or period of training coming up, you'll be working more, and sleeping less!

When you are actually mine-hunting, you'll be a straight 6 on/6 off system; generally if you're off, you're off, but there will be occasions when the entire ship is up. During your on-watch, you'll spend an hour in the Ops Room, looking at the sonar sets, and then an hour on the sweep-deck/quarterdeck working the SeaFox system or the VOS system. IF there are enough of you in the watch, you might be released to go down to your mess-deck every so often, during which time you'll probably have a little bit of cleaning to do. MW Ratings don't keep bridge watches during mine-hunting periods.

When you're alongside, your work will be a mixture of watchkeeping on the gangway (which is also done by the Divers and ET(WE) on-board), maintenance and general work, again under the direction of your LS or PO. They'll have a schedule of things that need doing, and you'll be cracking on with their list!

Underpinning all of this is the fact you need to get trained up and finish your taskbooks, so the majority of the work you are set will be contributing to getting those signed off. Once they are finished, and after the Bosun or Ops Room PO are happy, you'll get a pay-rise, and be allowed in the mess between 1600 - 1800.

There are a couple of jobs available - Gunner's Yeo, Bosun's Runner - that see you out of the day to day routines, and working directly for the Gunnery Officer and Bosun (PO(MW)) respectively. In general these are the preserve of the longer serving ABs, and you won't get a look in until you've done all of your task-books.

As for seatime, you'll do around about 200 days away from your home port every year, although you may be deployed for longer than that, and then get longer alongside as a result. The deployments out in the Gulf are typical in this, as are some of the NATO trips to the Med or Baltic. If you're not deploying, there are 2 main things you could be doing - checking sea areas for old mines, or conducting sea training to get ready to deploy. Either one is based around the MW department, so you'll be doing your core job quite frequently.

I suspect if you're a volunteer for Faslane you'll get it, but as ever, the needs of the RN always come first.

Thanks mate, that was brilliant and much more than I expected. It all sounds brilliant and I can't wait. Are you a serving MW spec? Do you mind just answering a couple more questions to clear things up in my head?
The 200 days away from home port, is that normally in one stretch eg on a nato-op etc or is that ever broken down to a couple of 3 monthers a year for example? While you are along side do you work 0800-1600 then go on watch on a rota basis for evenings/nights/early mornings?
With a bit of dedication and hard work how long does it generally take to finish a taskbook? I heard somewhere that promotion in MW can be a bit quicker than other branches...?
Also how good is the navy life to have a partner? I know of course the navy's needs come first but how did you/anyone you know find it?
But mainly, is it a good life and a good laugh?
Cheers mate - if I think of anything else be prepared.
Nope, I was a Small Ships Gunnery Officer, and did my training in an MCMV (and HM Ship).

Your 200(ish) days away will be a complete mix. Off the top of my head, my 2 years in Small Ships went like this: 2 months sea training, 1 month alongside, deploy 6 months, home for nearly 4 months (a mix of leave and maintenance), away for a week or two at a time for 3/4 months, 2 months sea training, deploy for 5 1/2 months, fly home, 2 months leave, move onto a new ship, then I left. With the commitments in the Gulf, you'll be in a routine that sees you with 6-8 months in the Gulf, and 12 - 14 months in the UK, which will have you alongside for 3 or 4 months (including leave).

If you're duty then you are on duty (or asleep), with a bit of work in your off-watch. I've seen 2 patterns worked, 6's or 1 in 3, it depends on the lads as to which system you use. YamYam is probably your man to describe the arguments over that one!

I know a switched on lad who was a LS(MW) before he was 20; he put in the work and was very good. Promotion can be quick, but stops suddenly at CPO, as it's "dead-mans shoes" thereafter.

I enjoyed my time in Small Ships, was known as a "big ships rating", but amusingly as soon as I got back to big ships, I was told off for being a "small ships rating"! With only 35 of you on-board, there's no space for wasters or loafers, and you'll be quickly found out. But I've never been in a Ship's Company that have had such fun together - lock-ins in small Scottish fishing pubs in the middle of nowhere are something to be experienced....

I've been with my wife for nearly 7 years, it's not easy, but that's the way it goes.
That was all extremely helpful and I hope it helps others in my position too. Thank you very much. I'll just have to sit tight now and wait for my ship to come in if you'll excuse the pun (first time you've heard it, yeah?)
It sounds like all in all I've certainly made the right choice. I would have also enjoyed diving but with a 5yr+ wait I think I'll leave it recreationally for now.
Thank you again for the advise and help - I might be back if I think of anything.....
That was all extremely helpful and I hope it helps others in my position too. Thank you very much. I'll just have to sit tight now and wait for my ship to come in if you'll excuse the pun (first time you've heard it, yeah?)
It sounds like all in all I've certainly made the right choice. I would have also enjoyed diving but with a 5yr+ wait I think I'll leave it recreationally for now.
Thank you again for the advise and help - I might be back if I think of anything.....

These links might interest you:

Home - Royal Navy and Royal Marines Sub Aqua Association (RNRMSAA)

Joint Service Sub Aqua Diving Centre

Welcome to Adventurous Training
Thanks Sol,
That is really interesting actually. Is adventure training subsidised? How often can I do it and would it make a difference being in Faslane? I'll look into it now I guess..
My Gunner's Yeo ensured that all the weapons were cleaned, running the cleaning "rota", as well as making sure the right standard was maintained. He also had charge of the Gunner's Store, accounting for all the requirements to maintain the weapons, as well as having my stores order book, in which he could place orders as required. He tended to help the Bosun with the weapon handling tests, getting the right people in the right place at the right time; I'd managed to get him on some courses which meant that he could do some basic teaching on weapon handling tests.

He also helped the WEO with the maintenance of the bigger weapons (Mk44 Minigun and 30mm Cannon), and between him and the ET(WE) they were responsible for the rigging and striking of every weapon before and after going to sea.

Basically, if it involved the weapons, he was involved!

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