Officer vs Rating

Discussion in 'The Gash Barge' started by BritishSte, Oct 4, 2009.

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  1. Hey,

    I'm beginning to reconsider joining as an Officer, mabye opting instead to join as a Deck Rating.

    On either end of the scale, the money is nothing to scoff at - I could easily get by and then some. So that's not a concern. There's also just as much potential for promotion and I could even request to attempt a transfer to Officer later down the line if that's what I want.

    I was just wondering if someone could highlight, in their experience, the key differences between the "Officer experience" and the "Rating experience". Thing's like the difference in living conditions on board, are things less stressful as a rating (What with not having to manage a large group of people)? etc etc.

    Thanks much
  2. Stephen, t'was only on Saturday that you posted this:

    <<<<(RFA) Eligible for Deck Officer? And questions about the RFA
    Posted: Sat Oct 03, 2009 12:58 am

    Hi all,

    I am 18 years of age, and I am very interested in joining the Royal Fleet Auxillary as a member of the Deck Department, though possibly IT and Communications too.>>>

    With this new question, about "the key differences between the "Officer experience" and the "Rating experience", are you trying to discover the RN or RFA experience?

    If the latter, then Jimmy Green has already pointed you towards the RFA website.

    If the former, then you seem to be making a big leap away from the RFA towards the RN after only 48 hours....


    Lots of 'Unofficial' advice here at RR but try doing a little searching of previous, similar, queries otherwise you are likely to attract those here who just love ripping into innocent newbies!
  3. *Outrage bus*
  4. Ste

    The key differences are that officers get paid better, the wardroom is equipped with comfy armchairs and you get to attend endless cocktail parties. You would be expected to dress for dinner and know how to use a knife and fork correctly, how to deploy a coffee cup and saucer correctly and sound plausible when addressing ratings who know more than you and joined the Navy whilst you were still an embryo. If you hate being called 'Sir', want to actually work for a living, or have tattoo embellishment of your bits n bobs, then becoming a Rating must be your aspiration. Remember: anyone can be an ossifer. Only exceptional people get selected to do peculiar things with rifles, duvets and wrens' suspenders. ;)

    I suggest you PM Ninja, if you want a serious answer! :)

  5. janner

    janner War Hero Book Reviewer


    you have caused the confusion, if you want to know about the RFA in general post in the RFA thread, you posted in the Quarterdeck which is RN, anyone reading your post would probably reach the same conclusion that breathing did.

    This is not an official RN?RFA site, you were pointed in the direction of an RFA connected site which would be better placed to answer your questions.

    If 8 posts is all that it takes for you to get on your outraged bus maybe a life at sea is not for you.
  6. I must admit so to some confusion here myself, as this is not the first thread on "Officer versus Rating" that has appeared ?

    Why does everyone want to be an Officer? Is there some stigma to serving as a Rating ?


    Any reasonable replies, anyone ?
  7. You're coming across as a complete cock - perhaps you should not join in either capacity.

  8. Okay :)
  9. While their is no stigma to serve as a rating (I believe both you and I served on the lower deck), with hindsight if I could turn the clocks back then I would have preferred to have done 22 years as an occifer. Due to my lack of both educational skills and lacking the social graces of course this would never have happened. :p
    However my advice to any youngster joining today is if they are qualified to take the occifer route they should do so>
  10. Stephen,

    As Janner says, your posts in different sections on the site have caused some confusion about what it is you are after. It would probably have been better, considering it is the RFA that you want to join, to have kept all of your questions in the RFA forum. Your questions would still have been read by the same people on here but at least then they'd know what topic they were about.

    Stephen, again you send out confusing signals. In one thread you state that finances are not a problem and in another you say you can't afford to be in full time education. Obviously I don't know your personal circumstances but there are many lads and lasses your age that are in full time education and they get by with a student grant.

    Although there is not a massive amount of information available on the RN website and the PDFs don't provide much information, it is fairly clear that the Officer Cadet route is for those that are unqualified to join up as an Officer. For you to join as a Deck Officer you would need to hold a STCW95 which I would be reasonably sure that you don't, which leaves the OC route as your only option. There are two training pipelines, the HND route which you already qualify for, and FD route if you have 150 UCAS points. Whichever route you go down you will be paid while you train until the end of your cadetship when you will be awarded with the relevant qualification. The information I was given is "Cadetships are currently 3 years and you would start on around £14k (rising after year 1, 2 and 3) and then on qualification to 3rd Officer – around £29k"

    You still seem undecided whether to join as an officer or rating, or even which trade to follow. I suggest you phone the RFA recruitment people in Pompey and talk it over with them because that's where you will get the most impartial and up to date advice.
  11. witsend

    witsend War Hero Book Reviewer

    :lol: I preferred your well written post, shame on you for the edit. I did enjoy the part, "I'm not singling anybody out, but you come across as an anal, blah blah and snobbish attitude" or something along them lines.

    Good luck in whatever you decide to do.
  12. <<I'm beginning to reconsider joining as an Officer, mabye opting instead to join as a Deck Rating.>>


    Aside: In common with many at RR I am an anchor-faced older person but, like most others here, always ready to offer encouragement to those with a genuine interest in matters relating to the RN.

    On Topic: Perhaps the RFA does have ‘Deck Ratings’, but in the RN there are Officers and Ratings.

    Perhaps (without going anywhere into ‘Jack Speak’ - a whole new vocabulary and language reflecting the unique way of life and sub-culture of the ‘Andrew’) the service semantics may have confused you; because non-officers in the RN are known as belonging to the ‘Lower Deck’ but are NEVER called ‘Deck Ratings’. I did not point this out to you earlier but now you know.

    This ‘Lower Deck’ consists of a rich choice of many branches/specialisations. Most of these have undergone various re-organisation/name/badge changes over the past few years.

    So, your question above about the different experiences raised my query on whether you were really asking about the RN, or (as apparent from your previous interests re: RFA Officer/HND route) about the RFA. Hence my '????'s.

    The RN offers a wide choice once it has established your academic status and potential. You have already stated that you are of a ‘practical’ nature so why not try looking more closely at a career as an RN engineering rating? One advantage of this route is that you will be freer to enjoy your youth without the overstretch of long training but with a prospect of promotion to officer later (if worthy) as you become more mature.

    Advancement and promotion are always encouraged for those with ambition and potential. The RN is a meritocracy; any rank (having been well-earned) hath it’s responsibilities along with its privileges.

    Experience? Mine has spanned the Junior Rating’s Messdeck, the Petty Officers Mess, a mixed Petty Officer’s and Chief Petty Officer’s Mess, a Chief Petty Officer’s and Warrant Officer’s Mess and Commissioned Officer’s Messes (Wardrooms), ashore and afloat in ships and submarines.

    Those experiences are somewhat dated so I believe it would be of little benefit to share many of them with you, a keen 18-year old who seems unsure whether he wants to join the RN, the RFA, as a Rating, a Deck Rating or an Officer.

    I will therefore limit myself to answering you, from experience and in my opinion:

    An RN Leading Rate is probably the most difficult one to come to terms with as one lives, works and plays among those often less responsible able rates, walking a very fine line by being with & among them, but over them.

    Thereafter advancement/promotion from ‘Leader’ to Petty Officer brings with it that move from the Mess deck to a Senior Ratings Mess, along with it’s duties, dress codes, customs and more comfortable perquisites.

    If/when subsequently promoted then you would discover that the other Messes also have different duties/traditions/and measures of comfort; but it is that very first move into a separate Petty Officers Mess which represents the biggest step-change in life-style of them all.

    I hope that the above is of some value to you.
    (I will ignore the remaining content of your rejoinder to my first reply to your initial post, others have replied and perhaps more will, too......)

    All I ask is that, here at RR, you think very carefully beforehand, post cautiously and try to remember three mores:

    1. Advice you receive ‘unofficially’ should never be considered as ‘given’, but merely as ‘offered’.

    2. On any such Public Forum one person’s opinion is just as freely valid and available as the next person’s (perhaps opposite) opinion.

    3. Jack & Jenny (and Sir) are renowned for their/our wicked sense of humour; they/we particularly enjoy banter, wind-ups and gaining bites (but rarely suffer fools gladly). IF you seek to join the RN you must be prepared to come to terms with this quite quickly as it will be your way of life, as an Officer OR Rating.


    Edited to acknowledge that you have sensibly deleted the bulk of your reply to my first post. A good start Stephen! :)
  13. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Anyone whose motivation includes not wanting the stress of leading other people isn't fit to be an officer anyway. And they are not going to enjoy even being a killick. Ask your local authority if there are vacancies sweeping streets - that should satisfy your desire for an active outdoor life. If you want it guaranteed always easy, don't come anywhere near the RN.
  14. Ok, thanks for the advice people.

    By the way, when I said about the moneybeing ok in either case, I meant I would still be very happy on a ratings wage - not that I don't need to be in work ASAP.

    I didn't say that, is there any need? :roll: Just because I asked is it less stressful, doesn't mean I'm not willing to take on the responsibility. The whole reason I want to join the Navy is because I want a challenge.
  15. Can't say I agree totally with the first part of your post, but we are entitled to an opinion - until it's made illegal !!. But I digress....

    On my first seagoing draft, one of the Bosun's mates was a 3 badgeman, very intelligent, very well liked, and both the Chief Bosun and the Bosun deferred to him for his knowledge and experience.
    It wasn't stress, or fear, that caused him not to go for a higher rate, he was just apparently happy doing his job, and there were many other Badgemen who probably thought, and did, the same.
    Being an Officer doesn't mean you are necessarily the Bees Knees, I've met some who did, but didn't really cut the mustard, and perhaps, should not have been given the Queen's Commission, but then I was not on the Interview Board, nor even the proverbial fly on the wall.
    Also, I've met some rather nasty bar-stewards who were killicks/SRs - standfast the Reggies :razz: - ( I even had my 264s read by a senior rate because I was bit too much above myself as a Mickey Mouse Killick - he soon changed my attitude) who also, perhaps, should not have been in a Supervisory position.
    It seems to me that perhaps that the RN is going the way of the USN, where you have the Officers in charge, but who actually defer to the Branch SRs, and maybe the Badgeman JRs who may have the years of experience in that particular trade.

  16. I think that it is naive to ponder over whether you should join as an officer or a rating.

    I would suggest that if you were officer material, you would have complete faith in your ability to join as an officer, without even considering joining as a rating.

    The officer selection process and training, is far more demanding than for a rating, because they are completely different roles aimed at totally different people. You either fall into one category or the other.

    If you are truly unsure which role you are suited to then you are probably not ready to make a commitment to the Royal Navy at all.
  17. On a lighter note...

    An officer needs to know the difference between right and wrong. A rating only needs to know the difference between right and left. :biggrin:
  18. And the Right way to pass the Port, or is that left. Not so simples?
  19. And dont forget the correct Wine Etiquette:

    "White Wine with the Fish, Red Wine with the Chips."
  20. What generally concerns me is the way in which it's approached, as if there is a correct answer. As you well know the jobs are very different, and in being different offer different things to different people. Some have potential to be very capable ratings but would be abysmal officers, and it doesn't really matter whether they're qualified for a commission or not. Equally some very capable officers would have been abysmal as ratings. Some could fit into either camp.

    The financial argument is a pretty good one, but I've seen a lot of JOs leave because they weren't really ready for it and would have benefited from some time on the lower deck to get things out of their system, so the financial argument falls apart.

    What does bug me is people actually asking others what they think they should do. Part of me want's to shout take some responsibility for your own actions...


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