WARFARE OFFICER - career progression after completing training


Hello, I am currently applying to join the Royal navy as a surface warfare officer, I feel I have adequate knowledge of the the training pipeline but have found it difficult to find any information regarding the career path after all training has been completed.

As I understand it after successful completion of the Initial Warfare Officers course (IWOC) young officers will deploy on a ship as an officer of the watch. I'm not sure how long or for how many deployments this will last before it's possible to get a job as a navigator and from here I believe the path is to train as a PWO.

As I say I'm uncertain of the career progression of a surface warfare officer, If anyone can tell what the career progression involves and if possible I would like as much detail on what the different jobs involve as possible. Alternatively if anyone can recommend some good sources of information online or recommend a good book to buy I will be hugely appreciative.

Additionally it would be great to get detailed information on the warfare branch specialisations such as mine clearance diver and fighter control, the more I can talk knowledgeably about these specialisations the better I will do at the AIB, so likwise for these specialisations, if anyone has any information or can recommend any sources or books that would be fantastic.

Sorry, I know I'm asking for a lot of information - thank you to anyone who can help.
*Cracks knuckles, gets ready to type...*

Right, here we go:

There is no such thing as a typical Warfare Officers career path; there are general themes that can be picked out though.

1. PWO Course will probably not happen until you've had 10 years service, unless you join relatively late. Your PWO job is the gateway to promotion past Lt Cdr, and should be the aim for all Warfare Officers.

2. The various sub-specs will "fill" your time after IWOC until you get to PWO. For each of those sub-specs there is a general path to be taken, but there are also side avenues and shifts you can take. As an example, I know an FC who became a Frigate Navigator, I also know a MCMV Navigator who has become a Merlin Observer.

The main sub-specs are - Navigation, FC, Mine Warfare (Diving is a sub sub-spec of this), Pilot, Observer, HM and Int. There is also the chance not to specialise, however this could be considered a specialisation in and of itself.

3. Assuming you pass everything first time you can expect to do 5 - 6 years in spec before PWO Course. As a Warfare Officer, at least 36 months of this should be in a Watchkeeping appointment, if not more.

4. If you go Mine Warfare, it will be after your first job as an OOW. On course, and presuming you pass the medical and physical requirements, you can qualify as a Diver; however due to a change in regs recently, you will not be a full Mine Clearance Diving Officer until you are an XO. Your first appointment however will be as the Operations Officer of an MCMV, and you'll do between 18 - 24 months in this role before being selected for XO. As an XO you'll complete your MCDO training, and then return to sea for another 18 - 24 months.

Depending on the state of the various shoreside Lt's appointments, you may be selected for one of these, or go straight to PWO Course. To fill the more senior Lt Cdr MCDO jobs it is becoming more of a pre-requisite that you must also be a PWO.

I hope this helps...


Thanks for taking the time to reply Alfred the great this information is very helpful.

Can you recommend any good books on a Warfare officers career path.



War Hero
Alfred you have the patience of a saint!

As you have embarrassed me into supplying some kind of answer, here is an quick example: 4 years training / degree, 4 years OOW, 2.5 years small ship XO, Initial Staff Training, PWO course, 2.5 years general PWO, 8 years specialist PWO/staff, 2 years frigate XO. Still loving it!

As for books on Warfare Officer's career paths, I would suggest you read Navy News regularly and get a feel for the variety of jobs we do, rather than concentrating on generic examples.
Books - how about:

Rules of the Game by Andrew Gordon. The echos of Jutland can still be heard in MWS Collingwood and the Fleet....
Battle of the Narrow Seas by Peter Scott. When Young Officers had proper jobs.
Seapower by Geoffry Till. How we use force in a maritime environment.
Defeat into Victory by FM Slim. Leadership at the shitty end of the stick.
Dusty Warriors by Richard Holmes (RIP). What Percy was doing 18 months before I went to the Gulf and watched the Iranians zoom around un-impeded.

Of course, none of these will provide you with an insight into the modern RN, and what Warfare Officers do. That's mainly because it's not very sexy, doesn't come across well in those crap TV series we have, and frankly most current Naval Officers have very few proper dits to spin that could be written down in a long book. Indeed, don't bother buying them just for boning up for your sift/AIB; buy them to understand what being an Officer is about (and I would suggest that is a continual process from post-AIB to the day you retire).


War Hero
I would also recommend two books by Lt Col Dave Grossman

"On Combat" and "On Killing" - about the business we are in.


Could someone explain a little about the Intelligence specialisation? I am currently studying Modern Languages at uni and intend to join in 2013. What are the promotion prospects and, if you have any idea at all, what sort of work do you do?


War Hero
'Destroyer Captain' by Roger Hill is my favourite about warfare at sea. A very honest and personal account of life as a destroyer Captain throughout WW2.


Thanks for that info. No sneaking around on covert shag missions (sigh). Are there other things that you can do with languages that you know of?

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