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RFA seamanship apprentice


Hi all, I have my heart set on applying for the rfa and I was wanting to know more about the swimming elements of joining. From the information I have found there is no swimming test to join, but you do have to complete a basic sea survival course and I would like to no more about it?
Like - are you fully clothed while doing It?
- do you do it with a life jacket on or not?
- is there a part to see how far you can swim and how long you can tread water?
And please if there is any other information you could give it would be greatly appreciated thanks


I don't know an awful lot about the sea survival course but what I do know is that you will be jumping into water from a height fully clothed and wearing a lifejacket to simulate jumping from a ship. Also you will need to pull yourself into a liferaft once in the water. But other than that I am unsure.

Hope that helps. PM me if you have any other questions, I'm currently waiting for a Communications interview.


Lantern Swinger

Fear not, as RFA don’t have to be able to swim. You’ll do BSSC / SCTW training with the RN at Whale Island, if you google it there’s loads of video’s on YouTube.

You will have to jump in the lake and backstroke it to a life raft but you’ll be wearing a board of trade life jacket and a survival suit. As a merchant seafarer you’d have to complete survival training to sail with any company every 5 years, the RFA make it more fun as you’ll do damage control as well. YouTube Royal Navy Damage Control.


Thanks for you rapid responses much appreciated... I'll have a look at some of those videos... and I will drop you a message good luck with your interview

Ryan Lowe

I have read that on another post that there is 10 weeks at Raleigh and then the damage control training is at HMS EXCELENT in Portsmouth?

Ryan Lowe

The BSSC is indeed in Pompy - at Horsea Island and the Driu.

Thank you for the information, I don't suppose you would know if RFA Diligence is being replaced or if one of the other ships would be taking over the role of forward repair ship?

Thanks again,



Lantern Swinger
Thank you for the information, I don't suppose you would know if RFA Diligence is being replaced or if one of the other ships would be taking over the role of forward repair ship?

Thanks again,

No and no (currently) as the last defence review did not mention a forward repair ship or submarine tender as a funded capability.

This does not mean there isn't a desire in the naval community to have these capabilities, it's more that the pot of gold for ships can only go so far and they do not have a high enough priority compared to supporting carrier strike or amphibious warfare.
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