What can I expect day to day?

Samsam

Newbie
Hello, I am considering joining the RFA as a seaman apprentice. I wondered what the hours of work were during initial training, if you get any free time during that time.
Also, are the hours of work both on and off the ship fixed, i.e. you'll know beforehand if you have to work, or can you get called to work at any hour.? Thanks
Also, what are you allowed to take with you during initial training, can you take things to pass the time?
 

Random

Lantern Swinger
A simple question with a not so simple answer, working hours is a great cause of friction (who is doing more/less). Our, on ship, basic working hours are published in our internal rule book (BRd875). Apprentices, as trainees, have some variation to these rules (others can jump in with them), your workload during initial training on bases will be as close to normal work hours as possible (the staff and instructors like to have their time off too).

On ship officially the ship's company, if day work, will work Mon-Friday from 8am until 6pm (though its rare to see too many day workers grafting at 6pm), with breaks at 1000 (30mins), 1200 (60Mins) and 1500 (30mins); weekends are officially worked up until midday. Outside these hours you can be called out to do essential work, but it does not happen everyday, and most of the time you know about it a fair amount of time in advance (exceptions being emergencies, last minute taskings etc)

If you are working a shift pattern (watches) you will be expected to do 2x 4 hour watches per day (e.g. 4am-8am / 4pm-8pm), plus some occasional work outside these watches (again most of the time you will know about it well before it happens).

The reality is that we work to the required workload, some days are quieter and you do less hours, some days are busier and you do more. The hope is that the quiet days balance the pain of the busy ones.
 

Samsam

Newbie
A simple question with a not so simple answer, working hours is a great cause of friction (who is doing more/less). Our, on ship, basic working hours are published in our internal rule book (BRd875). Apprentices, as trainees, have some variation to these rules (others can jump in with them), your workload during initial training on bases will be as close to normal work hours as possible (the staff and instructors like to have their time off too).

On ship officially the ship's company, if day work, will work Mon-Friday from 8am until 6pm (though its rare to see too many day workers grafting at 6pm), with breaks at 1000 (30mins), 1200 (60Mins) and 1500 (30mins); weekends are officially worked up until midday. Outside these hours you can be called out to do essential work, but it does not happen everyday, and most of the time you know about it a fair amount of time in advance (exceptions being emergencies, last minute taskings etc)

If you are working a shift pattern (watches) you will be expected to do 2x 4 hour watches per day (e.g. 4am-8am / 4pm-8pm), plus some occasional work outside these watches (again most of the time you will know about it well before it happens).

The reality is that we work to the required workload, some days are quieter and you do less hours, some days are busier and you do more. The hope is that the quiet days balance the pain of the busy ones.
Thanks a lot. How much of your own belongings are you allowed to take with you to maritime college. I have family in the army who said people took guitars and a lot of things with them to basic training, and read online that you can take musical instruments and other belongings with you on board a ship. How much can you take with you to training ?
 

Klanky67

Lantern Swinger
You can take as much as you want to HMS Raleigh. It's not a maritime college it's the Royal Navy's basic training establishment in Torpoint. You'll share a room with 5 other apprentices, all on the same course as yourself. As you can drive up to the accommodation the only limit on what you can take is how much you're willing to lugg around.
You're there for 10 weeks with the weekends free to do whatever you want - including going home. Working day is normally 8-4.30 with lunch and tea breaks.
I've seen guys take guitars onboard for their 3 or 4 month trip. The thing you have to consider is you may join a ship in the UK and be fairly local to where you live, but you may pay off (leave) the ship in a foreign country and have to fly home. Consider that with the amount of luggage you'll be expected to take home.
 

Samsam

Newbie
You can take as much as you want to HMS Raleigh. It's not a maritime college it's the Royal Navy's basic training establishment in Torpoint. You'll share a room with 5 other apprentices, all on the same course as yourself. As you can drive up to the accommodation the only limit on what you can take is how much you're willing to lugg around.
You're there for 10 weeks with the weekends free to do whatever you want - including going home. Working day is normally 8-4.30 with lunch and tea breaks.
I've seen guys take guitars onboard for their 3 or 4 month trip. The thing you have to consider is you may join a ship in the UK and be fairly local to where you live, but you may pay off (leave) the ship in a foreign country and have to fly home. Consider that with the amount of luggage you'll be expected to take home.
How much are you allowed to keep in your room during training? Where are your belongings usually kept?
 

Klanky67

Lantern Swinger
You have quite a lot of locker space. Two full length wardrobes, two overhead lockers and a large set of drawers. When are you going and how much are you thinking of taking?????
 

Samsam

Newbie
You have quite a lot of locker space. Two full length wardrobes, two overhead lockers and a large set of drawers. When are you going and how much are you thinking of taking?????
I'm applying at the moment, but because I wasn't sure of I would be allowed to take things with me I wanted to ask here. Do the staff(superiors or whatever they're called) go through all of your belongings?
 

Klanky67

Lantern Swinger
You're joining as a merchant seaman not as a prisoner!!! They certainly do not go through your stuff but you're expected to have it all locked away.
I'd concentrate on filling in a decent application, passing the tests, interview, medical and security clearance before worrying about how much kit you can take!
 

janner

MIA
Book Reviewer
I'd be more curious as to why he is concerned about people looking through his kit, what.s he intending to hide?
 

Samsam

Newbie
You can take as much as you want to HMS Raleigh. It's not a maritime college it's the Royal Navy's basic training establishment in Torpoint. You'll share a room with 5 other apprentices, all on the same course as yourself. As you can drive up to the accommodation the only limit on what you can take is how much you're willing to lugg around.
You're there for 10 weeks with the weekends free to do whatever you want - including going home. Working day is normally 8-4.30 with lunch and tea breaks.
I've seen guys take guitars onboard for their 3 or 4 month trip. The thing you have to consider is you may join a ship in the UK and be fairly local to where you live, but you may pay off (leave) the ship in a foreign country and have to fly home. Consider that with the amount of luggage you'll be expected to take home.
So at 4:30 and the working day is over do you still wear your uniform? When do you wear your civvy clothes?
 

Bluebird79

Lantern Swinger
Unless of course you’re an officer and then you’re expected to eat dinner and relax in the bar in Red Sea rig... no wearing civvies in the evening for you.
 

Seadog

War Hero
Moderator
I’ve noticed that the members of the RFA who bang on the most about ‘the Merch’ and how they are ‘Merchant Seamen’ are those who have never signed on a commercial (merchant) vessel. In some cases their RFA rank/rate does not exist in the MN proper.
 

Random

Lantern Swinger
I’ve noticed that the members of the RFA who bang on the most about ‘the Merch’ and how they are ‘Merchant Seamen’
Fair point Seadog,

It is a common misconception, just because you have merchant navy qualifications doesn't make you merchant navy. Same as doing Royal Navy courses doesn't make you a matelot. You may have been one of these once, but that is the past (or even possibly the future as well) and is not applicable to service in the RFA.

The RFA is its own beast, it is not merchant, nor is it royal navy. It requires skill sets from both though. If whilst you serve you can't bring yourself to say you are in the RFA, the only other description that fits is Crown Servant as this the overarching term for all who serve, military and civil in the UK.
 

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