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RFA Deck Hand?

Rampage

Newbie
Hey guys im new on here and am looking for some information, I came across the role of rfa deck hand and it is a role I have a great interest in. As a recent graduate (2.1 Civil engineering) i am completely board of my office job and i am lookin for a new more hands on career. I have always been a hands on kinda person and the last thing i want is to so spend the rest of my life in an office.In terms of fitness i have always have kept my self in very good shape and have always been an outdoors person, that said i have zero mariner experience.

I was wondering if anyone on here is currently or has been a rfa qualified deck hand and could advise me on whch entry route they would recommend,some information on the role , life at sea, the training involved, career progression opportunities and of course their opinion on the role itself i.e how much they enjoyed/ disliked it

I would be greatly appreciative if someone that has the experence could post on this thread or p.m. me and provide me with the info i need.Cheers!
 
A

angrydoc

Guest
You'd probably be one of the highest qualified on board with that degree!
 

EarlyChop

War Hero
with a civil engineering degree you could be looking at Air engineering officer or Marine Engineering... even the RFA has jobs for qualified engineers... why he preference for motley crew jobs?
 

sgtpepperband

War Hero
Book Reviewer
Welcome to RR! Although there are some RFA personnel here that are more qualified than most to provide advice, the RFA do have a dedicated forum where more relevant enquiries could be made:"Toys Out Of The Pram" RFA Forum. Either way, stick around, pull up a bollard and join in the banter. :lol:
 

blue jay

Newbie
Hi there

I have just left the RFA. I was in for four years as an SG1-A (deckhand/AB) WreckerL is right, officer is defiantly a possibility with your qualifications but you still may want to go in as an AB, the training programme is a bit longer but I have know people to get fast tracked. The problem with going in as an officer is you enter as a cadet with comparatively low pay, but if you go in as AB there is a system called "rating to officer" with better pay and the RFA will pay your expenses at college.

As for the job, if your young, free and single, its fantastic, lots of travel. We spend all our time at work on ship, unlike the navy, there are no shore posts (except for higher rank officers). and lots of time off. For every 4 months on the ship you get 3 months leave. The work can be interesting and varies from day to day.

The bad side is you are away for a long time, if you have family at home it can be very hard, 30 minutes of sat phone time a week and an unreliable email system when you are out of you UK is not a lot. Some people do fine, but there is a reason that the divorce rate in the navy is high, and it is the same for us.

In summing up, for me it was a fantastic job before I got engaged, but when my situation changed I left. If you think its the lifestyle for you, go for it.

If you want any more info PM me.
 

Luminox

Midshipman
Hi blue Jay,

Im thinking of making an application to join the RFA (deck hand). I have served in the Royal Navy but left a few years ago.

How many stops do you get on a 4 month deployment?
What are the work routines for a Deck Hand? Seamanship, RAS, painting and cleaning? Bridge Watchkeeping?
Do you do duties alongside? Gangway duty etc?
Single/Double cabins?
Do you have to march around in training, salute in dockyard etc?
How long to get L/H rate if you work hard and put the time in?

Sorry about all the questions! Have looked around on here and the TOOTP website, but their forum seems to be down.

Cheers in advance to anyone who can give me some feedback.
 

Megalopteron

Lantern Swinger
1) How many stops do you get on a 4 month deployment?
2) What are the work routines for a Deck Hand? Seamanship, RAS, painting and cleaning? Bridge Watchkeeping?
3) Do you do duties alongside? Gangway duty etc?
4) Single/Double cabins?
5) Do you have to march around in training, salute in dockyard etc?
6) How long to get L/H rate if you work hard and put the time in?
1) Entirely dependent on where you are. FOST tanker is in port (Portland, yay!) every weekend. Counter-piracy tanker is in port maybe once a month.

2) Yes, those things.

3) Gangway watches and if those are infrequent you go into the duty watch roster too.

4) Single. Diligence is an exception in that if a very large naval party was embarked you might have to double up. Unlikely.

5) No.

6) Probably a long time, possibly not. The AB:LH ratio is about 7:1 so promotion is generally slow and often difficult. Passed over ABs frequently rant about the ex-matelots promoted ahead of them, so maybe you've got the right qualifications to get promoted quickly. ;)
 

Luminox

Midshipman
Hi Mega,

Thanks for the info. Once a month so guess ill get to save plenty ha. Does not sound to bad, how close is life onboard compared to the Navy? Bit more relaxed?
What kind of duty watch do they have?
As for promotion being slow are we talking 3, 4, 5+ years?
Any idea of the take home pay? is the £3000+ RFA allowence granted from the day you start training or after training?
Am i right in thinking that at 31 i wont be seen as an older / (dad) joiner as the age limit is way higher than the mob?

Sorry about all the questions just want to be sure i want to go for it, and think my questions may not be appropriate at an interview ;-/ Not much info on the net, and feel some of my questions may be deemed as silly :icon_smile:
 

fluffyspanners

Badgeman
Hi Mega,

Thanks for the info. Once a month so guess ill get to save plenty ha. Does not sound to bad, how close is life onboard compared to the Navy? Bit more relaxed?
What kind of duty watch do they have?
As for promotion being slow are we talking 3, 4, 5+ years?
Any idea of the take home pay? is the £3000+ RFA allowence granted from the day you start training or after training?
Am i right in thinking that at 31 i wont be seen as an older / (dad) joiner as the age limit is way higher than the mob?

Sorry about all the questions just want to be sure i want to go for it, and think my questions may not be appropriate at an interview ;-/ Not much info on the net, and feel some of my questions may be deemed as silly :icon_smile:


you could end up spending all your money, the Argus has just spent seven weeks in the states, few livers knacked there. Some ships as said like out in piracy stuff can spend seven weeks at sea. (followed by seven weeks in Dubai to fix it)
life is more relaxed, not like it used to be but you'll notice the difference from the RN, on the promotion front, as an AB you join as SG2 or SG1B if you've got previous, but you still have to get your MCA qualifications to get to SG1A, could take 2 years(ish) then you're looking at a min of 6-7 years for LH then a few more to PO. same for all departments really. But if you have the qualificationss, as an engineer you'll go to college on shit wages, get a degree come out as a 3RD off with exemptions for 2nd and maybe chief if you're clever enough and start earning decent money.
on the money front you'll get RFA allowance of 256 quid a month extra from joining and 25 sponsored reserved per month,
And at 31 you'll be a baby in the RFA, especially as a deckhand.

bit about duty watch, on the small ships, AB's are generally excused duties but only because they cover the gangway, 2 on days 2 on nights, everyone else covers duties which can range from 1 in 3 to 1 in 7 for MM's Cooks/stewards and if you're lucky enough to reach C/PO could be 1 in 13. Officers do more duties. On the Dili if we're babysitting a sub we're stuck with extra duties.
 
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Luminox

Midshipman
Hi Fluffy,

Thanks for the info. This site is great as theres not much info on the net about the RFA. Im quite suprised no one has abused me yet, as looking through the posts i can see the site is full of banter which some people take the wrong way!

The RFA is sounding more appealing by the day, i should of never left the navy to be honest, but the RFA sounds like an ideal solution to my sea going cravings! Promotion not to great, but with the extras and getting from SG2 to SG1B it should go up over a few years.

Good news about it being more relaxed! 7 Weeks in the states yes please! Does that happen often??? Fantastic if it does!

Whats a Typical day at sea like with no operations going on in the RFA? A Typical day in the mob was....call the hands, shower, tab, scran, tab, on watch for 4 hours, tab, scran, tab, paint/clean for 4 hours, tab, rack for an hour, shower, clean heads/flats, tab, scran, tab,on watch for 4 hours, tab, rack! Same in the RFA? (Do you get a can man or at least duty free tabs??)
^_~
Cheers again for the info
 

Megalopteron

Lantern Swinger
Good, Fluffy is here, he knows some of this much better than me.

Am i right in thinking that at 31 i wont be seen as an older / (dad) joiner as the age limit is way higher than the mob?

You'll be a young'un. Average age in the RFA is around 40 and the oldest AB wasn't much shy of 65 last time I checked. No compulsory retirement age any more!

Whats a Typical day at sea like with no operations going on in the RFA? A Typical day in the mob was....call the hands, shower, tab, scran, tab, on watch for 4 hours, tab, scran, tab, paint/clean for 4 hours, tab, rack for an hour, shower, clean heads/flats, tab, scran, tab,on watch for 4 hours, tab, rack! Same in the RFA? (Do you get a can man or at least duty free tabs??)

That adds up to [taptaptap] 12 hours! What were you in the mob, slave on a galley? Standard working day is 7 hours for dayworkers, 8 hours for watchkeepers. You won't be expected to do much, if anything, outside of your watch, except for odd bits of whole ship exercises and training.

Shake at 0700, breakfast, work a bit, AM smoko 1000-1030, work a bit more, lunch 1130/1145/1200-1300 (depending on how early you can get away with on a particular ship), work a bit, PM smoko 1500-1530, work a bit and knock off no later than 1700. Though I shall remind you that the good book says 'thou shalt work until 1800' but it doesn't work like that in practice. Dinner served at 1730/1800 (err... I think). Bar officially closes at 1030 at sea, 1100 in harbour.
 

Luminox

Midshipman
Ha ha. I was CIS in the navy, liked the life hated the job! Stuck in the in office on watch was pretty boring. They did let me venture outside for the odd ras (usually after the long morning coz they were nice like that!). I've got quite a good Civvy job but I just can't see me doing it forever. I want to be at sea and have the odd stop ashore. Sad, but true!
 

MG Maniac

War Hero
Christ things haven't changed a great deal since I was last on an RFA (Olmeda in the 70's) ... I'm not counting Dili as she was still Stena Inspector when I was on her and crewed by Stena not RFA ... Deck hands were mostly all ancient and spent most of the time having a tab, sleeping or eating. Highlight of the week was Saturday night when the Stewards got their party frocks and "make up" out! I can't remember leaving port as I was too pissed from the night before on G&T's and once we were outside the 12 mile limit the bond was broken and we were on DF's.
 

blue jay

Newbie
during training the first three trips (SG2) you may share a cabin.

AB to LH as the RFA has just shrunk in size by 400 or so i would guess you are looking at 10 years or so but if there is more redundant in the next few years and you are in the right place at the right time who knows assume you will never be promoted as the system is very random the only garnted way to move up is the ratting to officer program. you should also now that most if not all of the qualifications you got in the mob will not count for the RFA.

remember the navy is 20 years at 12 hours a day but the rfa is 40 years at 8 hours a day some ex mob think the rfa is like a holiday some cant adjust to the change.

good luck
 

Luminox

Midshipman
Thanks for all the info guys,

What is the increase of pay from SG2 to SG1?
Also the rating to officer program? do you need to be brainy/posh/etc :-?
 

Megalopteron

Lantern Swinger
1) What is the increase of pay from SG2 to SG1?
2) Also the rating to officer program? do you need to be brainy/posh/etc :-?

1) Pay scales are buried somewhere, I think SG2s start on about £20k, SG1A can't be far shy of £30k and SG1B a little less. SG1B to SG1A is just a matter of 12 months sea time. The recruiting fluff on the RN website has starting salaries from 2010 but it isn't clear what's included (there has been a performance related "bonus" element for the last 2-3 years). Ratings don't get seniority increments, just annual pay settlement, so starting salary is pretty much where you stay until promotion.

2) Whatever the recruitment website says for cadet qualifications is probably close. They are being fussy about GCSE English grades for cadets, I don't know if that applies to RTO applicants. These days you have to pass an RFAIB, which runs at Sultan like the proper AIB with mostly the same staff but an RFA twist. Several candidates who are definitely neither brainy nor posh have been passed by the board.
 

Luminox

Midshipman
Hi,
So im guessing it takes around 5 years to get to SG1A? How long does the Recruitment process take? I got my application this morning in the post. The only thing that worrys me really is the affordability assessment on SC. I will be taking a paycut to join, i always pay my bills on time, its just i have a house, credit cards etc. I do have a partner and will be getting married next year. Do they take her wage into consideration? We do share a bank account and live together.
 
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