Whats it really like?


Hi all, Im a 24 year old male and am very interested in joining the Royal Navy. Im a vehicle technician at the moment working on Volkswagen cars and vans so Im really interested in air tech, ship mechanic/engineer and also submarine mechanic/engineer.

Shortly after leaving school I spent 12 months in the army, I passed out at ATR pirbright so I know all about basic training. I would like to know more information on life at sea and life in the Navy once phase one and phase two training have been completed. I would particuarly like to hear from air techs and ship mechanics. What are your daily tasks? Whats a typical day for you guys?

I have perceptions that all Naval personel are stuck in the middle of the ocean for 6 months at a time, is this true? Do you get to see much of the world or just the ocean? After all one of the main reasons for joining the forces is to travel and see the world.

I would love to speak with a submariner, this really interests me but I fear it to be a lonely life stuck at the bottom of the sea for 6 months at a time.

How does the Navy affect your personal life? Do you see much of your wife/partner and children? For single personel do you find it hard to meet women because your always stuck at sea?

I dont mean to sound ignorant, this is just my perception of Naval life. I hope to be corrected by this forum.


War Hero
Book Reviewer
Welcome. I'm a marine engineer so I can answer your questions with regard to that branch.
1. Your daily task will vary dependant on the class of ship you're serving in and its tasking. Don't expect to be ripping engines to bits straight away though, once you've earned the trust of your section senior rate you will be given more technical jobs to do, but to start with expect to do a fair amount of cleaning and you will spend the bulk of your career (especially the earlier stages) watchkeeping.
2. Unfortunately we do spend more time at sea these days, but there are huge opportunities for travel. Not just on a ship, but working with the army and touring with sports teams. I have been very lucky and have been to most parts of the world, if you choose small ships or subs though you travel options won't be as wide.
3. I don't see as much of my wife and family as I'd like, but that makes time together more precious ( I know that sounds corny, but I believe it) while your young though you will not worry so much about that, it gets worse when you have kids (I'm assuming that you don't yet).
4. You definitely won't find it hard to meet women!
Hope this helps, I'm sure one of our submariners and WAFU's will be along shortly to give their perspective. Would I recommend it? Yes absolutely. You'll have boring/s**t days, but what job won't you have that with. The chance to change where you work and what you do every few years is also great as it keeps your interest up. Good luck.
Although when you deploy you are likely to be away from the UK for six or seven months, not all of this time is spent on the wide blue crinkly stuff.

For example, a Gulf deployment will likely see you stop in Gibraltar for a couple of days, then into the Med where you will probably stop for 2, 3 or 4 days at a time in a couple or three countries on your way through to the Suez Canal. At each of these stops you will be required to remain onboard at least once to carry out a duty watch commitment. During these short periods alongside the ship will refuel, take on fresh supplies, stores, mail etc. You will also carry out maintenance on equipment that can't be done whilst the ship is at sea. So although you will have time to get ashore, you will also have to work during the day (or at least during the mornings, depending upon the ship's routine).

When in the Gulf you will carry out patrols for 2 to 4 weeks at a time then spend a couple of weeks in places like Dubai/Bahrain for a couple of weeks downtime/maintenance as already described. Repeat a couple of times then come home or, if you're lucky, head off further east to places like Singapore, Thailand, Australia/NZ etc before returning to Blighty.
I joined the REME as a Tank Mechanic. Tanks are pretty basic compared to highly sophisticated modern cars so I believed it not to be applicable to Civvy life(an army mechanic would be lost in a car dealership). I say this as I really joined to do a trade and then leave, I am now looking to join the forces for life because Civvy life is the same old.

Also alot of people were leaving ATR Bordon/the army as the trade training is done by a civilian firm called VT. VT only have one instructor to every 40 recruits so basically their was a 9 month waiting list to get onto your trade training course. During this 9 months you were given odd jobs like painting the block, litter picking, PT beastings, gaurd duty, just constant crap.

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