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to be honest
the new navy adverts are good and actually make me want to rejoin but in a different capacity as i am almost through an international relations degree.
BZ RN and lets get back some pride again after the sacrifices of 2009-2013


These are good ideas but the RN is nowhere near understanding this problem never mind solving it. Ships engineering departments, like all others, have long been designed lean. Unfortunately, to meet cuts and be seen to do ‘more with less’, they’ve since been reduced further; responsibility for delivery of OC has been devolved to more junior rates who have often struggled with the burden; and we are continuing to deal with the results of decisions taken throughout the last decade like changing the sea/shore ratio from largely 2years on/off to 3 on 1.5 off. These decisions taken as a whole mean that ships engineering departments are undermanned even before gaps are considered and ratings are being broken by long sea jobs. Ratings spending 3 years on a ship can expect possibly 3 sets of officers who come with their own new ideas and boxes to be ticked for their next promotion, which adds to workloads. The increased shore support, used to justify manning reductions, just isn’t there. Ships are no more reliable (in most cases much less) than before and technologically much more demanding. We aren’t operating new ships within the threshold they were designed for and thus they are breaking much much more often than it was considered they would.
While it may seem counterintuitive in a period where they are struggling to retain engineers and fill jobs now, decisions need to be made to reverse the reductions in engineering department size and change the sea shore ratio back to a more manageable 2 on 2 off. This will mean more people are needed but that is unfortunately the cost of having a deployable blue water navy. Also the RN must realise that engineers are highly sought after commodities today with a massive draw from the civilian world (much more than in virtually any other branch). Measures must be taken to acknowledge this truth and reward engineers who are willing to stay. If the rumours of a disappointing NEM pay result for engineers are true the RNs problems could only be beginning. Pay2000 backlash could seem like a walk in the park in comparison.
The RN faces a number of challenges in the coming years on the engineers front. The new pension will have an effect. CPOs/POs FRI expires around Apr16 along with NEM pay beginning. WOs who took the FRI initially see it expire in Apr 17 closely followed by those selected later in late 17. If the RN doesn’t get its act together and sharpish then the current situation will be a dream and getting a few people from abroad will not solve things.


I think you nailed it there.

Mary Smith

Could you please alter the wording in your article stating that skilled crew from foreign navies will be invited to transfer to the RN. No need to say “even” Indian personnel as if they are inferior in some way. They are every bit as skilled and proficient as any other nationality.


This was not meant as a slight on the Indian navy, rather because the US, Canadian and French navies have regularly exchanged personnel with the RN in the past it is more unusual. Also at the time of writing Indian participation is just a rumour that has not been reliably confirmed.


Mary Smith.
As individuals I would agree with you, and on a personal basis yes they are as skilled and proficient. The question lies in the training they have received in their own Navies.
Try looking at the record of the Indian Navy and it does not make pleasant reading,sinkings and collisions at sea, fires onboard ships,explosions in one case on a submarine caused it to sink alongside with loss of life. Also ships running aground even on entering harbour.
By all means recruit, but please ensure they are trained to a standard that the RN expects.


AnMESR hit the nail on the head above, further cuts to engineering branches onboard with new manpower models being rolled out are only going to increase the workload on ME/WE SRs in the coming years, Gone are the days of T42 and T22 manpower models we now see the RN adopting a T23 manpower model and applying it to most classes of ship regardless of size/role!
I know of a large number of senior rates already planning to exit when this FRI return of service expires, the pension changes forced upon the RN and ongoing ramping up of ships programmes is not going down well, 9 month deployments have not seen a positive response onboard quite the opposite.
Sea ratios for engineers of 3 years on, 1followed by 18 months shoreside are generous on paper when you take into account PJTs for the next seadraft in those 18 months shoreside as well some are seeing just 6-9 months down time before they are ramping up training for the next 3 years on.. I cant see many doing more than 2 cycles of that. Family are still very much second place and harmony time and down time are overlooked. Yet in the wardroom as mentioned we see 12-18 Month sea billets followed by 5-6 years in shore jobs!!! And the AFPRB surveys reflect the comfort and happiness this gives the officers, when compared to the seagoing conditions and ratios of the junior rates and seniors its no wonder the surveys returning from them spell out quite the opposite.


Even Prince Harry has put his notice in!
And before anyone says yes I know he’s in the army!
But let’s not forget we are all one big tri-service family!

Mark Horton

I’d join back up tomorrow but I was a gunner and I’m sure I wouldn’t get entertained as well as now being 47yrs but if the oppourtunity was given then here’s my right arm no need to twist to hard! I served 1984-1990


This is by a serving officer on submarines – it is 12 – 18 months onboard but 12 -18 months of 1 in 2 , I’d take the 3 yrs on and 18 months off if I was you

Serving WO1

If you pay stores personnel more than engineers you reap what you sow! Also Many Faraday initiatives are just turning back the clock to yesteryear. The bottom line is the RN never addresses the root cause of engineering manpower problems, they just apply sticking plasters. The fact is the T&Cs for the onboard engineer is dire. First on last off and working to keep kit operational including carrying out operator training (Mach Breakdown Drills) long after other branches have secured – at sea or alongside (the exception maybe the chefs branch).


As an ex seaman spec I happen to remember watchkeeping and working long hours just as much as the engineers , you need to do just what everyone else needs to do, stop making this just about engineers!


Ah, so you could strip and refit a diesel yes? You had to go through an apprenticeship, degree or extra education to do your job did you?
Sorry. While everyone has to work hard the truth is that Engineering is a skilled trade. That means you have to pay more for it. It happens in civilian world and if you think that the RN can keep engineers without doing so also you are mental.
The issue is that rank determines pay in the RN. Changing that could allow experienced seaman specs to have the same (or more) authority as a CPO WE/ME in a broad scale but for the CPO WE/ME to be paid more. Technical skills of one rewarded. Experience in the operational context of the other also rewarded.


Join a decent branch then. Haven’t you got some tanks to dip or some gash to ditch?


Having left just over 3 years ago, I would consider joining again if I was given a decent length contract, only they don’t want CPOAEM(M)s anymore, I’m led to believe.


CPO wafu…i bet you would join again, my wank sock has done more time at sea than you…cheers oppo…
…oh wait you’ll probably reply telling me how you did an OST once on the ocean


Ha love it


Top comments. The officer on the subs doing 1in2, it was always written into your TOR’s. You get handsomely rewarded with shore time, shorter career paths and superior pensions. I’m not complaining, you went to school, but NCO’s and yourselves are miles apart and not for comparison. For us engineers, and me as a CPO ME, doing a 3 year (MINIMUM) draft as a section head and still watch keeping because manpower gaps are so dire that even we are often 1/3. The only time I can usually work on my engines are alongside after secure, IF I have stores support.
It’s not just the manpower, but stores funding and support too. The dire conditions we work in, are often a reflection of the poor support and budget cuts. Much of the gear onboard is advanced, but you find most of the ME kit is old 60’s tech, outdated and often unsupported. That’s what makes our jobs difficult, constantly repairing with limited resources.


Every person in the ‘Made in the Royal Navy’ is now a civilian


Paycut 2001 killed the engineers. Bouncing between drafts and poor management just compounded the issues. It is a shame that everything had to be reactive.


6000 officers in a 30000 navy,what a joke. Pay engineering ratings overtime.