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What do you REALLY do in the Navy



Got my test on 5th Oct and would realy like to know about the typical day working for the Royal Navy. Is there really that much cleaning and painting? i mean do you have to do that for the whole day sometimes?

Im interested in Warfare Specialist, Hydrographic, Meteorological and Oceanographic Specialist and Engineering Technician (Weapon Engineering).

I just can't believe all the stuff they feed you at the AFCO and would really love to know what a real sailor actually does before i sign a large chunk of my life away.

Thanks for reading!


War Hero
I never painted anything with paint.Did a bit with Iodine solution.a typical day for me was if i was on an Early(0800)turn to on the Ward,have report,get the patients washed and fed and sorted for MO's rounds at 1000.Make the beds,all derssings to be down by 1000.Carry out Drug round at 1000.1015 Start standeasys.Carry out MO's requests from Ward round.1130 ish start to admit new patients,and process discharges.1200,scran feed the patients and get up pateints to make the tea.1300,handover to the late shift.Off to galley for scran.1400 ish sleep till 1730,then galley for more scran before 1800 to 2300 repair to Haslar club to carry out Research into the effects of alcohol on the body.2300,trip to oggy Van outside Dolphin gatefor a triple cheese bacon burger.2359 ish pipes out and more sleep.if you want to know what happened on Nights or a late do let me know!


Thanks, any info's good!

Im really worried if i join as a Warfare Specialist (which i think is OM(W) in old terms) i'll just end up painting and cleaning constantly. If the other careers on my list have less shitty jobs i'll go for them.

Im quite sure that someone on this forum can send you a copy of daily orders, Why wouldnt you want to keep your ship clean? If you dont fancy that, join the RAF they have civvies to do it for them.


I don't want to be misled thats all. If most of the day is taken up using your professional skills then i don't mind some cleaning.
Very basically when you are in harbour the time is taken up doing maintenance tasks with the ships systems downgraded to enable repairs upgrades cleaning storing spares and food etc etc to be accomplished.

At sea you will be part of a watchkeeping team. Depending on the specialisation you choose will determine the work you do.

The ships crew will also be regularily 'in house ' trained doing exercises simulated or live using the weapons ,propulsion etc systems. This will ensure you as a crew member are competent to overcome various set piece scenario's
You will never become bored--- :lol:


Every Department must keep their "part of ship" clean, but for the main part, whatever your speciallism is is what you will be doing, ie; chefing, Stewarding, stores, clanky's, pinkie, greenie etc. Only dabbers clean and paint on a regular basis, although I have been known to clean the hull of my Submarine and give it a coat of paint during the off crew (this off crew does not happen anymore) and I was a chef!!!!


"Only dabbers clean and paint on a regular basis." Don't be so sure about that as the new Branch Structure is only in its infancy. For example everyone will find themselves on the upper deck at some stage (yes even 'stokers' and 'the S S').


War Hero
What’s with all the guests posting lately? Doesn't anyone want to join?

Guest - life in the RN is great but naturally there are highs and lows - that’s the same anywhere you go. What makes it better is that you get to go places, do things, take responsibility, get involved, etc, etc that you couldn't even dream of in Civvy Street.

Typical day's work will depend upon where you are and what your job is. If you're serving at sea it will begin with:

0700 - call the hands (get up, washed, dressed and breakfast).
0800 - Colours (raise the flag to symbolise a lot of things including the start of the working day.
0810 - Duty Watch / parts of ship muster. A way of checking that everyone who has a particular tasking above their normal is available and aware of it.
o/c - Work as normal within your department.
1200 - Lunch.
1315 - Back to work.
1615 - Secure (end of the day unless you are duty or very busy).

Then there is dinner, run ashore, whatever. Routines vary from ship to ship and will also depend upon whether you're out at sea or alongside.

If shore-side, there are similarities in order to maintain tradition. Wherever you are there is an element of flexibility to cater for sports, personal time, socials, etc but these are to make up for the days that you work hard when on operations or exercise (planning for operations).

One thing is for certain, it is rarely dull.



Sorry the guest post was me :cry:

Thanks for all the replys! Keep them coming!. This is really helping me decide if Navy life is for me.

Sorry but what is a Dabber?

So it seems with the new structures the crummy jobs are being spread around more? Sounds good.


i must admit though before i branched changed i did clean and paint everything!! all day every day.
defence watches spent polishing the flats the next watch stripping the polish the next laying polish well you get the idea.
usually the ops dept are the painters and decorators, dont get me wrong all depts do it but in there own spaces. it is just that the ops dept spaces are more visible than the rest so it always seems that they clean the most.
as a Phot/IA i dont do any of that anymore(thank god)


:( All day every day? Now im worried..

People in op's seem to have it the worst.. How much of your time was cleaning and how much was actually doing your job? If it was hardly any ops stuff wern't you a annoyed?

Sounds like i should go Weapons Engineer or HM so far. Is a HM classed as a dabber?


like i said i branched changed. did more seamanship than gunnery but i enjoyed the danger aspect of that so didnt mind.


War Hero
SteamboatMate - don't get hung up on the whole cleaning thing. Think of it as the equivalent of helping keep your room tidy, washing a few pots and helping Mum around the house. It is not an all day job and when you're shore-side they have contract cleaners to do most of it. :wink:

You should be asking questions about the tasking of specific branches.



"Only dabbers clean and paint on a regular basis." Don't be so sure about that as the new Branch Structure is only in its infancy. For example everyone will find themselves on the upper deck at some stage (yes even 'stokers' and 'the S S').8-bits

If you didnt get it I was speaking about when I was in during the COLD WAR!!!!!!!!!! and I have spent my offcrew's painting and cleaning the hull covered in black nonslip!!!!!!!! smelling of turps!!!
My Neice was a weapons analyst and she spent most of her time in Butec and Kyle of Lochalsh..... Not the same as as a Weapons Engineer, but you will be a Pinkie and play with weapons and electric string. You will have to scrub out the compartment and paint it every so often, but that is what life in the RN is all about. Go for it, you are young and have your whole life ahead of you, you will more than likely make a lot of mistakes in that time, but as long as you learn from them you will get on well!!!

A Dabber is a Seaman!!!


Seems to be allot of conflicting story's. Good sign that life is varied i suppose.

Berniephot what was your job before you changed? and what is your job SF?

I'm hoping Warfare specialist doesn't envolve tons of cleaning because the op's room stuff sounds interesting to me.


The Ops Room stuff is interesting for about 1 day. Imagine watching your favourite film for 4 hours a day every day at sea - Ops room manning. For variation, job satisfaction and a trade go ET (WE) and join the 'Fleet Elite'
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