The Royal Fleet Auxiliory q & a session help!


Hi guys

have already had great feedback about my post "I want back in" ref fleet air arm and my age of 38

can anyone tell me about the RFA (sensible stuff only this time around, you know who you are) arf arf

1 pay on entry as a rating
2 hi's
3 lo's
4 do they have married quaters?
5 is it any good?

cheers all


War Hero
Have you been to the RFA website and looked at 'frequently asked questions'?


or do you want someone else to do all the work? :wink:

1. Pay on joining? Don't know exactly but as an adult trainee it'll be in the order of £22k including the RFA Allowance (X Factor).

2. Highs? Single cabins in most if not all cases. Remote possibility of qualifying for Foreign Earnings Deduction on your tax bill (a full rebate under certain circumstances). No divisions. Four months on, two and a half months (ish) off. Serve until sixty.

3. Lows? Sucking on the hind tit for berths and having to remain at anchor or moored. Some dinosaurs and their eager young followers who are hostile to all things 'Navy'. Hard work, fewer people to look after a lot of real estate. Pension at sixty.

4. Do they have married quarters? No. There isn't the need to move your family around the country when you have that kind of work/leave cycle. Those in shore jobs get a lodging allowance. Not likely as a 'baby' dabber but those in shore posts go onto Civil Service rates of leave-not the sea going rate. It may be possible to bag an MQ if there are any going spare but every RFA Officer and SR I know who has worked ashore lived in his/her respective mess or in private accommodation.

5. Is it any good? Most ex RN who go in (several ME and WE WOs/SRs ) love it.

An RFA to join? The future seems secure. I get the impression (posted earlier) that the RFA will take up some of the slack left by the cuts in the RN. The Wave class in the Windies is doing the drug busting on its jack (although it has a flight, booties and USCG embarked ).

There is a RR poster here who had a pash in the RFA (Junior Seaman), he or she may come forward and offer another perspective. There is an RFA poster currently deployed (I think) and the RFA's conditions of service have been discussed on these boards before. Use the search facility.


Not knowing what branch you'd be going for, I can't make specific comments. Seadog has covered the basics, but I'll try to put a slant on it. Ex-RN are pretty common throughout the RFA, especially in the Communications branch. On the last ship I sailed on, we had an AB who was an ex-Chief Mine Clearance Diver, and our LH(HC) was an ex CPO(seamen spec), both of whom thoroughly enjoyed the job.

The leave and terms and conditions are excellent - equating roughly to 4 on 2 off, with single cabins for all personnel (though generally sharing a head and shower with the cabin next door, or shared washing/showering facilities). Rather than messes with a mess square, there is a crew bar. This is a large bar, with TV, sound system and other entertainments (generally including a dart board), shared by all the Junior Ranks on board. The pay as a complement SG1A (equivalent of AB, after about 18 months in) is somewhere around £25k per year, with opportunities for promotion if you're so minded. The rank/experience structure is very different, with a massive age range amongst the ABs.

Downsides - Portland, Loch Striven, Glen Mallen, the buoy in Plymouth sound. Alongside berths are not brilliant and tend to be very much in the middle of nowhere - though contrary to rumours we don't spend much time at anchor. RFAs do spend a fair amount of time on the buoy in the sound, but when they are a liberty boat routine runs out of millbay (though the midnight last boat is a bit of a pain). Although you work 4 month trips with 2 months leave, you work all those 4 months - 7 days per week (half days at the weekends), and when alongside you don't automatically get the weekend off if you aren't duty. If alongside, you will probably get 1 weekend off in 3 or 4 (midday friday to midday monday). If you're at sea for long periods (up to 70 days between ports), the routine can get rather mind-numbing. As seadog says, there are a lot of the older die-hard merchant seamen who have a very blinkered outlook toward the RN (this includes some officers), but they tend to be anti-RN in a general sense rather than anti-ex RN personnel.

Any further specific questions, feel free to PM me.


I thought the theory was Merchant Navy were Officers trying to be gentlemen, the RN was Gentlemen trying to be Officers and the RFA was neither trying to be both :)


Actually, and not wanting to impede on the questions already posed, but what does the RN say if an ex-RFA tries to join? Does it go as an advantage, disadvantage or neither?


angrydoc said:
You have to teach them to do up the top button on their shirt!

And have a wash and a shave at least once a week.

I jest you not. 3 years on RFA Argus as RN ship's company. Some good guys, some bad guys, just like the RN. But the JRs tend to have little respect for anything, including themselves. The problem we had on Argus is that the RN JRs start to try it on after a while - we had a killer Jossman though who killed it off in a one-er.

RFA? Give it a go, you get treated better than in the pusser.

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