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This is just my 2p, and a recent (and for me personally, sad) reflection on my experience in trying to join the navy.
I have a bunch of higher degrees in engineering, one of which is a PhD, and all of which are from Oxbridge (this is not meant to brag, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth and all that nonsense – I merely wanted to frame my background). I recently completed my PhD, a few months ago in fact, and had been toying with the idea of joining the good and the great in London. But in the back of my mind, there was that lingering feeling that the navy was where I wanted to be, and where I could make myself and my skills, most useful. I specialised in mechanical engineering (though we start of general), and that ought to come in handy on the new carriers. This is my ignorance talking naturally, I do not know if any of these things are true, they are but speculation.
Alas, I got in touch with my local recruitment office. They were very polite and enthusiastic, so I was obviously very excited about the prospects on offer. But as the conversation wore on, it eventually transpired that if you wanted to train as an engineering officer, you have to start before you turn 26. Having done an undergrad, a masters and a PhD, you may not be shocked to hear that I am older than 26.
And so ended my navy dreams.
This is all very melodramatic of course, and I am sure that the navy have their reasons for baring anyone above 26 from joining. But I cannot help but wonder if they could not at least be a bit more flexible. I was only two years older at the time, and have all this education that I would have loved to apply in the RN.


Adam, the upper age for an engineer officer (all branches) is 29.
Unless the website and my own personal experience joining as an over 26 year old engineering officer are wrong…


That was from the horse’s mouth as they say.
Could it be possible that this recruitment agent was perhaps mistaken? Though he seemed quite adamant.

Geoffrey Hicking

“Older people may find it hard to understand what a big deal internet connectivity is for young people who have grown up in an era of Snapchat and WhatsApp. Although some may scoff, it is not unusual for young people even report serious anxiety when separated from their phone.”
That’s extremely concerning. If things are that bad, then manning would be the least of the R.N’s problems.
Sadly, while there are many young people that work hard and are mature responsible people, there are some that aren’t. From what I’ve heard from some older people, they are uniquely ‘fragile’. I’m rather ashamed to say that I am probably one of them. Like other ‘snowflakes’, I am prone to arrogance, oversensitivity, stupidity, and I wouldn’t know sacrifice if it hit me in the face.
Oblivious though I may be, I’m beginning to understand the depths of this ‘maturity crisis’. There really are too many people that are immature and entitled. I’m beginning to fear that it may be too late to correct the problem.
Automation is probably the only way to solve the R.N’s manning crisis, with teleoperation eventually allowing people to operate ships from shore, though there are probably all sorts of reasons why that might not be possible. Automation is nonetheless vital.
Please do not see this as some ironic rant. I mean what I say here. Text is not always the best way to convey something. Nonetheless, I am aware that people like me are one of the reasons the R.N is in the terrible state it is in, and for what little it is worth, I’m sorry for what I have done. I will probably take the shame of what I am to my grave. I will try to change, but I am probably not competent enough to serve (almost accidentally killing myself while in the cadets taught me that the hard way), and imagining I can be better is probably grossest arrogance.

Iqbal Ahmed

It’s good that we finally have an article that isnt just asking for more ships and weapons systems. Manpower is probably just as important as hardware.
I think some of the views expressed in this article by navy types show how out of touch the service is compared to the rest of the country they serve. Emphasise on diversity can only enrich the demographic of people joining up and I see no lack of patriotism amongst my generation. We simply view patriotism in a different way. We are better informed and less deferential.
Remember, we are the generation that saw the forever wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where troops were sent in without adequate kit to do an impossible job. Even though it was the politicians who sent them in, the forces reputation was nevertheless tarnished.
I can’t believe our forces recruit 16 year olds. Often from economically depressed regions. We are in good company with countries like North Korea and Eritrea.

Silent Majority

More pathetically banal insults thinly velied with faux concern.
At least you are consistent. Shame it is consistently toxic.
Ah, diversity, the primary object and solution to everything.

Ian Willis

16-year-olds cannot vote, drive a car or drink alcohol. But they can join the forces.
It’s one way of filling the gaps in personnel but not very ethical.

The Ginge

Have to say Mr Ahmed has a few very good points. The reality is the UN Rules state that recruiting under 18yr olds should be illegal.
The second fact is a father of some “snowflake” (a term I find highly insulting) generation kids or slightly older I can vouch they are no less patriotic or less brave than previous generations. What they are is a lot smarter and informed through the internet of the realities of jobs and careers.
They know that 9mth deployments are common, they know that whatever part of the armed forces you are in that recognised qualifications are rare unless you specifically join a “Trade” branch of the services, that employers no longer fall for the “Great Leadership Skills” stuff the MOD pump out and believe me I’m on the other side of seeing how “useful” the leadership skills of say a 32 year old Army Captain are in the modern diverse work place.
So the MOD/Armed Forces have got to come up with a better offer. That means more pay, better training opportunities and better conditions whilst at home or deployed.
Because ultimately the argument that it was alright in my days would mean that sailors would be sleeping in hammocks, eating weevil infested dried biscuits and sucking on limes to stop scurvy.