Weapon Engineer Officer (Submarines) or Marine Engineer Officer (Submarines)?



I am a starting my MSc in Aerospace Engineering in September, having just graduated with a First Class (Hons) degree in Aeronautical Engineering with Professional Experience (Placement), and I am interested in joining the Royal Navy as an Officer. Originally, I looked at the role of Weapon Engineer Officer (Submarines) but having spoken to someone on the recruitment live chat I found out that this is more electrical based and now I am wondering if a Marine Engineer Officer (Submarines) would be more applicable? Additionally, in terms of career progression and what this may look like after training, if anyone has any guidance or information on that, that would be appreciated.

I will be graduating in July 2022 and so I have a bit of time to best prepare myself. I haven't yet applied but I have registered an interest in the roles mentioned. Again, if anyone has any advice on the next steps and if I should start the application process now that would be extremely helpful, it's all quite new to me. Outside of all that, I was wondering how the sports facilities are onboard the boats? My main sport is boxing and I would like to keep that up however I would imagine this to be somewhat hard on deployment. Thanks for your help!

Two quick Searches resulted in the following lists of threads regarding:

A. WEO (SM) =


B. MEO (SM) =


A steady trawl through that lot should provide various insights into each role.

Similarly, "Search results for query: boxing" =

Regards to you, too.

Bob L


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Union Jack

Lantern Swinger
I would be intrigued to know why, with your undoubted talents in Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering, neither you nor your AFCO contact have apparently considered a specific interest in the Fleet Air Arm, especially as the F-35 comes into service. Having served up front with both, I'd also modestly suggest that your opportunities for continuing with your boxing would be far better there too.



War Hero
You're asking questions without providing enough background on your thinking so you're never going to get a great answer. As Union Jack says, your educational background would seem to make you more suited to an AE role than any SM one, so why have you been considering SMs and what made you, with your aeronautical background, consider WESM? And what is it that is now making you look to MESM?


Thank you for all your responses they have been great help. With my degree I have always taken a multi-discipline approach and tried to include more mechanical opportunities such as my placement and project. I have enjoyed my studies working with planes so far and military aircraft has some of the most advanced kit and technology but so does a nuclear submarine. In terms of cutting-edge engineering both roles I think I would find rewarding.

In terms of further education I believe an MSc in Military Aerospace or Nuclear Reactor Technology is available. With regard to the former, I'm wondering about the career progression with me hopefully already having an Aerospace MSc this time next year and the potential benefits. I do want to keep learning as best I can.

I know working on a submarine isn't for everyone but the challenges and potential skillset that can be gained is what really first appealed to me. I will not lie here also but the better pay was also a factor in my decision. WESM was the first role that I looked at as it was a high priority role. Am I right in saying out of the three roles they all are as well?

The reason why I am now looking to MESM is because the recognised degrees for WE were electronic engineering, computer science, information systems, communications and telecommunications - I didn't know this previously. With my degree being more mechanical based and where I am more comfortable ME sounds like the better fit for me.

Lastly in terms of travel and time that I will get to spend at sea, out of AE an MESM which role would provide better opportunity as an Officer? I have read that AE will be mostly onshore but would this get better when F-35 comes into service? And obviously on a boat, I am assuming that the travel won't be as good but maybe the opportunity to work at sea would be better?

Once again I would like to thank you for all your advice and help. It really means a lot!


War Hero
I think the first thing all potential engineering officers need to remember is that you ain't doing any actual hands on engineering, you've got people for that. There are shore roles and projects where you will be involved in engineering and your expertise and engineering knowledge will be utilised, but on a ship/submarine/squadron you're an administrator and manager primarily. (I speak by the way as a WESM Officer who started as a mechanic, before becoming an artificer and then commissioning after 20 years service).

Certainly I've been involved in making engineering decisions onboard since commissioning and will sometimes have information or knowledge that the maintainers don't, but generally they will be the subject matter experts on specific equipment.

With regards to your qualification; yes there is a requirement for entrants qualifications to be in certain areas depending on the branch they wish to join, but Branch Managers can (and do) agree educational waivers so it's possible to still join in a specialisation you don't meet the exact criteria for (of course, the granting of a waiver is not automatic and can be refused).

I can't say what ratio of sea to shore time is for an AEO, way out of my area of expertise, though I've no doubt the carriers being operational will slightly increase the amount of sea time. I doubt if it would change drastically though. The truth is most engineering officer jobs are shore jobs. The business of fixing stuff at sea is in the hands of Engineering Technicians and they only need so many people trying to manage them; there are however lots of jobs in areas such as policy and procurement that are filled by Officers.

As a WESM you can realistically expect to spend not much more than about 5 years of your career at sea (that's as part of a ships company, some 'shore' jobs involve sea-riding platforms), and the same is true for WEs in the surface world. As a MESM you'll spend a little longer at sea over the course of a career because the training pipeline and need to qualify in various watchkeeping positions, combined with the need to have at least 4 qualified Marine Engineering Officers onboard. Over a full career though you would still expect to have spent less time at sea than ashore.


Right ok so there is opportunities to be involved with engineering aspects to a degree but mainly it will be managing the group of skilled technicians and people. Coming from both worlds yourself, what main piece of advice would you give to someone in the role?

I will contact my AFCO to discuss my options further in regard to my qualifications and then make a decision from there but as you say, I can't imagine the sea time changing drastically for an AEO even with the carriers. If the majority of roles as an officer will be shore jobs I think I would prefer to go down the MESM route and experience a bit more of it if I can. You mentioned the training pipeline there, I was just wondering what this may look like? Thank you for your insight so far it has answered a lot of my questions.