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RFA and merchant navy?


What are these exactly? Are they part of the military?
If I want to fail to join the navy would this make me exempt from joining either of the 2?

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Lantern Swinger
I'm not sure if you'd want to fail for the navy in all honesty.......

Sent from my GT-N7000 using Navy Net - Rum Ration mobile app


War Hero
RFA is Merchant Navy (MN) is manned by civilians acting in full time support of the Royal Navy. The MN is civilian and as the name "Merchant" implies, often carries trade or cargo goods. Part of the RN's job is to protect trade routes.

The entry standards for RN are different to those for MN and in many respects the RN entry standards are more stringent but a failure to meet RN standards would not necessarily rule out joining the MN (or RFA).


Lantern Swinger
However, the RFA makes up part of the Naval Service whereas the Merchant Navy does not. The RFA sits somewhere between the RN and the MN.

For service in the RFA you need an unrestricted ENG1 (seafarers medical) which means you can sail anywhere in the world whereas in the MN there are jobs that you could do with restrictions on your medical.

You are not HM Forces in the RFA, you're a crown servant - a civilian. A civilian with dog tags and a MOD 90 whose ships have guns and go to war zones. It's not for everyone.

I'm not medically fit for the RN but I am for the RFA. It's a happy compromise for me. Good luck with your application and think positively.


Lantern Swinger
I know i'm bordering on pedantry but we're civil servants, not crown.

Crown servants cannot strike or claim back seafarers earnings deduction on tax.

Crown servants are armed forces personnel, some intelligence services etc.


Lantern Swinger
That's interesting, no problems with pedantry - we all need a hobby. I was specifically told we weren't civil servants and you can only go on what you're told.


War Hero
Book Reviewer
Concur with Mrecho, I was told we are civil serpents and we have the joy of the RMT available to us.


War Hero
RFA, so far as I'm aware are not technically Civil Servants either in some respects. If they were, ex-RN personnel in receipt of a pension would have their pension abated if they joined the RFA. They don't.


Lantern Swinger
Yes. NJ we're a sub catagory of CS known as uniformed civil servants. Means we get grt some benifits and some draw backs as seen fit by bosses.

We don't use HRMS directly like the rest of CS for example.


War Hero
Just had a look into this, and there is an FOI request on this subject:

The response is here:

Navy Command said:
Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) seafarers are Ministry of Defence civilian employees with pay andterms and conditions of service that reflect their core function as seafarers.

However, because of the unique nature of the work of the RFA the organisation is viewed as a ‘Non Standard Occupational Group’ whose terms and conditions of service vary from those covering ‘main stream’ MoD civil servants. 071924.pdf

In short, they seem to be "special" Civil Servants.


Lantern Swinger
Aye Ninja, I've found that before as well. I've got no problem with being wrong - every day is a school day. Plus, I quite like being a 'special' case - it rather suits me.


Nice little read then haha. Thanks for the replies everyone.

Just as a continuation to my original question, do you have to go through the Royal Navy careers office to apply for either the MN or the RFA?

And can you be a seaman specialist or something similar in these?

I am thinking positively for the RN but I do need a back up plan as I know I want a career at sea. (RN preferably)

Posted from the Navy Net mobile app (Android / iOS)


Lantern Swinger
In that case go to your afco and tell them you want to join as a sea spec.

Worry about the RFA later if it comes to that.
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