Questions on being a Steward



This is my first post. I attempted to search around for some answers to my questions and was unsuccessful; however, if I did miss anything I do apologize.

Some background on myself: I am male 28 years old from the Commonwealth applying to the Navy from overseas. I am in excellent shape and would be able to compete well on the Royal Marines Selection Course, which I am considering; however, I am more interested in working on a ship. That said, being from the Commonwealth my options for trades are extremely limited.

In this post I am looking for the straight talk about being a Steward. Everything I find online paints a pretty grim picture of the trade, however, I find it hard to believe that it’s as bad as people make it out to be. In fact, from what I read the trade seems kind of interesting. I am going to quote an excerpt from the careers site PDF and base my questions around that.

"As a Steward, you’ll be part of a team providing official hospitality for visiting Admirals, local dignitaries and even heads of state, both in the UK and abroad. Your personality, professionalism and attention to detail will help create a positive image of the UK and the Royal Navy. So, you’ll need to be completely reliable at all times and able to think on your feet. On a warship, you’ll effectively be running your own hotel, with day-to-day responsibility for the officers’ bar, accommodation and dining room.â€

Q: Do Stewards only cater to Officers aboard ships or to ratings as well?

"A warship is first and foremost a fighting machine though, so you’ll master a much wider range of skills than your civilian counterparts." You may be part of a boarding team searching a ship for drugs or illegal immigrants, or helping people in a humanitarian disaster. You’ll also take on the role of providing first aid to your crewmates, both in peacetime and conflict situations."

Q: How realistic is this? I have to be honest the part about the trade which appeals to me most is the possibility of training to become a member of the ship's boarding party. But I wonder if this is simply the career office dressing up the trade and I wonder if there a serious possibility that a Steward will act on a boarding party.

Also, first aid is also of interest to me. If the waiting list wasn’t so long my primary interest would be Medical Assistant, however, given my age and situation 20+ months would put me over 30 by the time I got in. If I wanted to go the route of a medic I think I would be best to do the Royal Marines and hope to specialize as a medic through them. What kind of first aid duties would a Steward find themselves tending to?

Finally, I notice that Steward is a “hot job.†How long would one expect to wait on average for a spot in training if they picked this trade? Faster compared to others? I am just curious.

I thank everyone in advance for whatever they can contribute. I am just in the early stages of looking at my options before lodging an application so I want to paint a realistic picture about what is available to me before I set my sights on a particular trade.


Lantern Swinger
Hi jk82

Ya you unfortunately have a limited choice of career coming from the commonwealth but in my eyes the life of the RN is nearly enough of an attraction, without the job opportunities. Getting to travel the world, make great friends it will be a great life, Best of luck in what ever you decide, sorry I cannot help you too much, with you questions.


War Hero
Ballistic said:
smeeg said:
Boarding party sounds like horseshit to me....

Maybe I'm 10 years out of date but my last ship before I went outside called for Boarding Party volunteers from any branch, any rate.

The steward and the writer were the ABO's on my last ship. It was an OPV mind you.

On the 42's I served on it was from any branch.

However since then things may have changed


War Hero
jk82 - the Steward's branch is much maligned probably due to the 'unwarlike' role of your primary duties. Your day-to-day stuff will indeed be looking after the ship's officers (not to everybody's taste), but you will learn various catering and 'hotel services' skills - not to mention the civilian qualifications you may pick up on the way.

The roles of boarding party and first aid are there, but as you may imagine they are not daily tasks and you, as a Steward, will not be the only branch involved.

There is always banter between branches, but if the idea of this trade appeals to you go for it.

Good luck (and no, I'm not nor was I, a Steward).
As an Officer, I can only say that I admire Std's greatly. It's not a hugely "war-ry" role, but you perform a service that can include long hours and one that may not be to everyone's taste. You don't wait hand and foot on us - I know of no XO who runs his/her Wardroom like that - but you will in effect be a waiter/barman for us, generally only serving at meal times, and then doing some cleaning for us (mainly a hoover and wipe of the our wash basin).

Extra duties:

I had a Std on my Boarding Team, but it depends on how many people are available to do the "std-ing" task whilst you are away.

You are now cross trained with the Chef's, especially as you progress up the rates - indeed at PO, both trades merge into one another.

You will be a core part of the ship's first aid team, although you will be working under the direction of the MA/MO on-board. You'll get trained to a pretty decent standard, but there is limited progression in "trade" after this.

If you want to be a RM, I suggest you go and do that straight away - an in-service transfer will take a v long time, if at all, and doing a job you didn't really want to do whilst waiting is v dispiriting. RMs have ship drafts - mainly in the Landing Craft branch, and if you find yourself up at FPGRM in Faslane, you could provide the RM part of a Boarding Team.

Hope this helps,



Lantern Swinger
smeeg said:
Boarding party sounds like horseshit to me....

Last time I did my Level II First Aid at Raleigh, there was a PO Steward who was on the Ship's Protection Officer's course and was a member of the boarding party on his ship.

Smaller crews still the same amount of extra roles to fill! It seems like branch means little nowadays when it comes to whole ship duties


Thanks for all the information! It is more than appreciated.

So, primary duties aside, what secondary duties would one expect to have as a Steward? Looking at the advertisement on the careers site they reference the boarding party but also show a steward manning a machine gun on the deck. I know that the primary duties are unwarlike; however, the secondary ones look exactly that. Again thank you in advance for any input people can provide.


War Hero
I've not known a Steward to man a machine gun especially when you have WS and Spec's on board who have that in their job role.

However being part of the first aid party during action stations is one of their roles.

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