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New user so please be gentle :cool:

My stepson has just passed his interview to become a Engineering Technician Marine Engineering, the recruiting officers have given him a choice between this (9 month wait) and the same job within the submarine branch (4 month wait) of the RN.

There is little or no information on this particular role within the Submarine service and so this hopefully is where you guys come in.

What are the work patterns for this type of job?
What length of tour offshore should he expect?
Do submarines visit foreign ports or as common sense tell me do they just operate UK port to UK port.

They told him that after 4 years he could transfer to what you refer to as "skimmers", cutting through the recruitment bs is this usual or probable.

Any other information you could give to help him make his decision would be helpful.

Thanks in advance
Can only go on what happened in my days many moons ago,but a lot will depend on what class of Boat he goes for.

If he gets the Big SSBNs he will be looking at zero runs ashore but plenty of time off between patrols and a fistful of dosh when he gets back from patrol.

When on board they will be working a watch system,so time off will be taken up with doing his Part 3 examination which if he passes he will qualify for his Dolphins and a nice little pay rise.

Hope this is of some help to you.I expect there are people on here with more up to date info,but hopefully this will do for starters.


Thanks Nicks very helpful

I understand that there are 4 SSBNs only one of which is at sea at any time (correct my internet gained knowledge if wrong)

So the question is are there 4 sets of crews????

If there are what do the other crews do the rest of the year??

If he gets on SSN Fleet Submarines are there "runs ashore" on these boats.

I understand the loads of dosh bit but I want him to get the best training and career length he can out of it. (dosh is good too :) )

Once again thanks for the reply, anyone else nice enough to help?????


Book Reviewer
Scooby, you might have to be a bit patient here, there are quite a few older generation now retired Submariners, but not so many still serving, so they might take a while to answer.

In my days on diesel electric boats, there were cracking runs all over the place but with the restrictions placed on the SSN's the places visited are not so diverse. Hopefully a modern Submariner will be able to give you some idea of places likely to be visited
There are 2 sets of crew to each SSBN (Port and Stbd Crew) When one is on patrol the other crew is either on leave or doing there Pre On Crew Training.(Basically 3 months on crew,3 months off crew )

He will love the Camaradarie of a SSBN but will miss out on the runs ashore unless he is lucky enough to get one that has just come out of refit and is going States side for the Missile Firings.

As for a training,whatever he does on Boats or Ships the training will be second to none,so you have no worries there.


Lantern Swinger
Sorry for the delay in replying, I've been away for a while.
ET(MESM) is a new specialisation, so there's not much written about it. It's a mix of Mechanic and Artificer (both these specs are no longer recruiting). For the time being the initial training and job employment is a bit like the curent Mechanic rate. As I've posted ealsewhere, ET(MESM) is about getting your feet under a table discovernig how a submarine works and fitting in as a watchkeeper. With only a couple of years experience you can be selected to become a Leading ET (LET); you'll go away to complete very courses that teach you how to be a maintainer and pick up a trade skilled (welding or fitter/turner or electrician). Then back to sea as a valued member of the ME Department.
A couple more years of experience and selection for Petty Officer, this is where the training becomes more like that of the current artificer. The POET course involves more academics and trains you to become a diagnostician (someone who works out why it's broken and fixes it). If you do OK on the POET course you can choose to do a short module that, if completed successfully, qualifies for a Foundation Degree.

SSNs have one crew but with enough people to leave a few behind when they sail, so you get to do training and take leave occasionally when the boat's away. You also get leave periods when the boat is alongside. SSNs do a bit of work in the UK, others support whatever the UK is doing on the world political stage.

All boats visit foreign ports occasionally (even SSBNs have had a couple of visits abroad) and I think there was an SSN in Southampton recently that had a good visit. SSNs and SSBNs get runs ashore but they do operate differently.

Two SSBNs have 2 crews, the others (one of which will be in refit) have a single larger (Gold) crew. The crews that are alongside catch up on training, courses, leave, preparing admin for the next time they are on the boat.

If he doesn't like it he can apply to transfer to "skimmers", but by then he'll most likely want to stay. The lifestyle is good, the cameraderie unbeatable, and the pay isn't bad.

My recommendation would be to join now as a MESM (take the Submariners Golden Hello £5000 according to the RN website page for ET(MESM)) then decide in a couple of years whether you want to stay.
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