RFA Careers

chris-edinburgh
20th April 2008, 01:08
Hi,

Wondering if anyone can help me,

Considering a career in the merchant navy and have been drawn toward the RFA.
Ideally interested in an Engineering Cadetship, but I was just wondering if anyone knows what the support package is like for studying and also perhaps what a career in the RFA would be like compared to with a "normal" shipping company.

Lancastrian
20th April 2008, 09:45
Go to http://www.royal-navy.mod.uk/server/show/nav.5070 for career information.
I've never served in a "normal" shipping company so cant help you much there except to say that the training support will probably be as good as you can get anywhere and at least in the RFA you have security of employment and pension.
However there can be no guarantees that the RFA will continue in its present form for ever!
Offi cer Cadet
(Engineering) (HND)
Induction and Phase 1: college
26 weeks – HND Part 1, workshop
skills, basic sea courses, marine
environment familiarisation.
Phase 2: sea 23 weeks – NVQ
Level 3 evidence collection, develop
practical skills.
Phase 3: college 44 weeks – HND
Part 2, workshop skills, advanced
sea courses.
Phase 4: sea 25 weeks – NVQ
Level 3 evidence collection, develop
practical skills.
Phase 5: college 38 weeks – complete
HND Part 2, NVQ Level 3 assessment,
MCA orals (OOW Certifi cate).
You will work to gain:
• NVQ Level 3 – merchant vessel
engineering;
• HND in marine engineering;
• Offi cer in Charge of Engineering
Watch Certifi cate of Competency;
• GMDSS Radio Maintenance
Certifi cate; and
• Electronic Navigation Equipment
Maintenance Certifi cate

Bill Davies
20th April 2008, 10:15
Lancastrian,
Interesting post.
Please explain I've never served in a "normal" shipping company.
Although there are many have an opinion on the RFA (good or bad) I am genuinely indifferent.

Bill

Lancastrian
20th April 2008, 10:20
It means what it says! Whatever one's opinion of the RFA, you could never describe it as "normal".

Bill Davies
20th April 2008, 10:24
Thanks for that!

chris-edinburgh
20th April 2008, 10:38
Thanks for the reply's folks, I think its the fact the the RFA isn't just a run of the mill shipping line.
If it wasn't for the fact that I want to do Engineering but I don't have an engineering degree I'd try and join the Royal Navy as an engineer officer.
But something about the merchant navy attracts me.

Bill Davies
20th April 2008, 12:10
Chris,
If Lancastrians reply was anything to go by I would get yourself the appropriate qualifications and go the 'whole hog' and join the RN otherwise you will end up 'abnormal'

chris-edinburgh
20th April 2008, 12:13
Chris,
If Lancastrians reply was anything to go by I would get yourself the appropriate qualifications and go the 'whole hog' and join the RN otherwise you will end up 'abnormal'

Hehe, I don't mind being abnormal! I think the only thing that might stop me joining the RFA as a cadet is that the support i.e what they pay you while training isn't as much as some of the commerical companies and as a graduate I don't think I can afford to spend another 3 years paying for accomodation etc while studying with the RFA when other companies will pay it all for you.
That said I hear that there is opportunity for ratings in the RFA to get promoted to officer so I could try that route I suppose.

Bill Davies
20th April 2008, 12:29
Chris,
That said I hear that there is opportunity for ratings in the RFA to get promoted to officer so I could try that route I suppose. that option is available anywhere and our colleges are full of them.
Take a tip from from me and get yourself a job ashore as what you here on this site from the likes of me and others of my vintage does not exist out there anymore.
Bill

James_C
20th April 2008, 12:32
Chris,
Are you intending to go for Officer or Rating training?
The RFA package for Officer cadets was (and probably still is) one of the best around, both in terms of the pay you receive and things like expenses (they pay for all your books, travel etc). Most other companies will not do the latter, and with the training groups, i.e. Clyde Marine, SSTG etc your annual wage as a cadet will be approx 1/3 of what you will receive in the RFA or with the oil companies.

chris-edinburgh
20th April 2008, 12:59
Chris,
Are you intending to go for Officer or Rating training?
The RFA package for Officer cadets was (and probably still is) one of the best around, both in terms of the pay you receive and things like expenses (they pay for all your books, travel etc). Most other companies will not do the latter, and with the training groups, i.e. Clyde Marine, SSTG etc your annual wage as a cadet will be approx 1/3 of what you will receive in the RFA or with the oil companies.

I would prefer officer training but I heard that what the RFA pays cadets isn't all that great or have I been misinformed?? Part of the issue is that information about the RFA is sketchy compared to the RN.

I'm just worried about being able to afford to do it and its really why I'm looking at possible Rating entry to the RFA or even RN as the start pay is slightly higher than as a cadet.

James_C
20th April 2008, 13:11
I think you may have been. I've just had a chat with one of my mates in the RFA.
Compared with other employers, RFA wages are higher than average. Wages wise it tends to be RFA Highest, then Oil Companies, everyone else and then down there near the bottom are the Cruise ship companies (P&O, Cunard etc). Compared to the wages of a fully qualified officer cadet wages are low, but you'll probably still be looking at starting at just over 10k plus RFA allowance (danger money) which will go up incrementally. Then once qualified RFA 3rd Officers (Deck and Engine) are on about 26k basic plus RFA allowance, so nominally just over 28.
The start pay for a Boy Rating (unsure of the latest PC term) will be less than that of a Cadet.
As I recall after gaining your various bits of paper it takes 2 years seatime (so over 3 years in real terms) to be a fully qualified Motorman Grade 1.
As mentioned earlier your starting salary as a cadet will be higher than that of a rating on entry, however once you qualify as an officer (3-4 years) your salary will be significantly higher than a qualified AB or Motorman, especially as you progress up the ranks.
If it's purely down to money, then I would suggest the cadet route - you'll be better off financially as time goes on. As far as the actual training goes, you won't get much better than the RFA.

jimmys
20th April 2008, 14:56
Most of the training of Engineer Cadets is carried out in the Colleges. They are all of a similar standard. Your basic sea time for your first certificate is with your sponsoring company. Most of the companies look after the cadets very well and on board training is good.
The HND course gives two years remission from the BSC(Hons), and from Glasgow Nautical College there is a conduit to Strathclyde Uni.
I have had hundreds of cadets up before me for exams and I never noticed the RFA were any different from anybody else.
Depending on your age there may be a route to cadetship, degree and the RN as well.

regards

chris-edinburgh
20th April 2008, 18:20
Most of the training of Engineer Cadets is carried out in the Colleges. They are all of a similar standard. Your basic sea time for your first certificate is with your sponsoring company. Most of the companies look after the cadets very well and on board training is good.
The HND course gives two years remission from the BSC(Hons), and from Glasgow Nautical College there is a conduit to Strathclyde Uni.
I have had hundreds of cadets up before me for exams and I never noticed the RFA were any different from anybody else.
Depending on your age there may be a route to cadetship, degree and the RN as well.

regards

Well I'm almost 22 and graduate in about 6 weeks, I just feel that maybe I should have joined as a cadet when I left school at 18, feel that I have really just wasted my last 4 years :(

Bill Davies
20th April 2008, 18:27
Four years wasted!. Go to sea and you will know about wasting years.

chris-edinburgh
20th April 2008, 18:43
I think you may have been. I've just had a chat with one of my mates in the RFA.
Compared with other employers, RFA wages are higher than average. Wages wise it tends to be RFA Highest, then Oil Companies, everyone else and then down there near the bottom are the Cruise ship companies (P&O, Cunard etc). Compared to the wages of a fully qualified officer cadet wages are low, but you'll probably still be looking at starting at just over 10k plus RFA allowance (danger money) which will go up incrementally. Then once qualified RFA 3rd Officers (Deck and Engine) are on about 26k basic plus RFA allowance, so nominally just over 28.
The start pay for a Boy Rating (unsure of the latest PC term) will be less than that of a Cadet.
As I recall after gaining your various bits of paper it takes 2 years seatime (so over 3 years in real terms) to be a fully qualified Motorman Grade 1.
As mentioned earlier your starting salary as a cadet will be higher than that of a rating on entry, however once you qualify as an officer (3-4 years) your salary will be significantly higher than a qualified AB or Motorman, especially as you progress up the ranks.

I think it is down to the lack of available information about the RFA. I remember talking to them at a careers even a few years ago and I can't remember why I didn't apply to them at the time.
So do RFA cadets get a salary or how is it done?

If it's purely down to money, then I would suggest the cadet route - you'll be better off financially as time goes on. As far as the actual training goes, you won't get much better than the RFA.
Four years wasted!. Go to sea and you will know about wasting years.

You don't reccommend a career at sea then?

K urgess
20th April 2008, 19:07
If you want to go to sea, Chris, go for it.
There are some that would say it's not worth doing it any more but if you have no pre-conceived notions as to what it's like then there's nothing to stop you.
Most of us would go back to sea like a shot if we were 40 years younger and it was the 60s again but that's because of what we remember.

OLD STRAWBERRY
20th April 2008, 19:12
Chris. At the end of the day, only You can decide what is best for You. Go with Your instincts Boy and very good luck to You.

jimmys
20th April 2008, 19:14
What is your course and what do you hope to graduate in.

I have some expertise and qualifications in these matters.

regards

Bill Davies
20th April 2008, 19:26
Chris,
You are clearly getting attention on this thread.
One thing you should remember is that colleges are in the 'bums on seat' business and will not guarantee you anything after you hand over your money and waste your time on their courses.
The MCA is no better and worse in my estimate. If you are graduating shortly use the degree you have to gain employment ashore.
Others will tell you different but then I still had rose coloured lenses back in 70 when I had a whole 15 years to draw on.

Bill

James_C
20th April 2008, 19:45
Bill,
It wouldn't be his money - his sponsoring company will pick up the tab for all tuition, as is standard these days.
Nothing to lose except time and if you're 22 well then there's plenty of that left.

jimmys
20th April 2008, 19:55
You are indeed correct JamesC. It is best we wait until we have details of the young gentleman before we offer advice.

It is also better the advice comes from someone with expertise in the matter of engineer cadets. There can be a very fruitful career in marine engineering these days. They are very short and routes can sometimes be found.

regards

chris-edinburgh
20th April 2008, 20:07
Well I'm about to graduate in accounting rather than anything thats going to help me unfortunately, kind of kicking myself for that.

I don't have any real ideas about what I'm expecting in a career at sea, its just something I've always wanted to do and I just kick myself for not taking the chance when I had it before university.

Bill Davies
20th April 2008, 21:04
Chris,
I have a Jesuit philosophy on vocations to the sea. 'Grab them while they are young'.
Your going to be 26/27 when you finish your apprenticeship and over eager for advancement because of your age. Unfortunately, that fits the description given to me by the MD of a Ship management company lately. Think hard about what the Industry you are keen to enter will be like in four years. You could be a Chartered Accountant. Do a law conversion and in two years you will start in a Solicitors office. The world is your oyster. Don't waste it.

Pat McCardle
20th April 2008, 21:42
I'd still give it a go Chris. The latest cadet to win 'Cadet of the year' is 45years old, or is he older Bill? With your accounting background you will also be ideal to 'Run the Bar', which I am surprised at none of our older shipmates picking up on, as this was once one of the most important jobs aboad a ship. All the best in whatever career move you make

clankie
20th April 2008, 22:27
If you 've a degree in accountancy then join the RFA as a Supply Officer (Logistics). Far better than down in a "filthy hot black hole" of an engine room. Take it from one who spent 31 years as a RFA Engineer Officer in one before requalifying and joining the NHS as a Clinical Scientist.
The pay for a Third Officer starts at about 26k + and will double that when reaching the rank of Chief Officer, far more than you'd ever be likely to get as a rating.

JT McRae
20th April 2008, 23:44
Chris, I've been following this thread with a lot of interest. As a marine engineer with over 30 years experience, I think it's great that young people are still keen to enter the profession. You are still young enough to follow a different course, it doesn't matter that you've studied accountancy, all training and experience is good. I don't know a lot about the RFA, but from what I do know, I am sure it will be a great place to carry out your initial training. But you don't have to stay with them all your life, there are lots of shipping companies out there that are just crying out for trained sea staff. If you work hard and gain your certificates, promotion can be quick.
Don't pay too much attention to some of our older members who might want to dissuade you. Sure, things have changed since they were at sea, but I can tell you first hand that marine engineering is still an interesting and well-paid career.
After doing a naval marine engineering apprenticeship, I spent 20 years in various types of merchant vessels, and the last 10 years in the offshore oil and gas business. You might like to consider that in the future, very interesting work, lots of variety and challenges, and you see some pretty amazing places too.
So just go for it, and the very best of luck.

Tim

chris-edinburgh
21st April 2008, 07:08
Thanks everyone for the feedback and advice, its certainly not something I would do for short term gain because if anything I'm loing out short term by chosing to pursue a career at sea.
I have just always wanted to go to sea and I would consider as a deck officer but I was a bit concerned that because I wear contact lenses my eyesight wouldn't be up to it.
Also the RFA seem to have done away with Logistics officers as theres no mention of them on any careers leaflets certainly at the moment,

R651400
21st April 2008, 07:17
I have just always wanted to go to sea and I would consider as a deck officer but I was a bit concerned that because I wear contact lenses my eyesight wouldn't be up to it.
Chris, Jimmys has given the green light on engineer cadet and it's eventual rewards. However I feel, navigation cadet seems the only real pearl in the long term sea career oyster, particularly the cruise industry.
Travelling daily some fifty over years ago to Leith Nautical College with three future master mariners, eyesight notwithstanding, I know which avenue I would take..

Lancastrian
21st April 2008, 08:43
Chris,
I'm fairly sure the RFA is still recruiting Logistic Supply Officers, though this is all I can find from their website at the moment -
Supply
Supply our demand – can you deliver?
Supply is our business, but we need supplying too. In this virtual role, you’d be responsible for the efficient management of cash flow, catering, stores/supplies and personnel administration on our ships.
You’ll need an HND (or equivalent in Business or Hospitality and Catering or Logistics) and personal qualities such as flexibility and attention to detail.
Training is very much ‘on-the job’ and complemented by the support to gain professional qualifications. Advancement and promotion bring further responsibility and we’ll supply the career development opportunities to fulfil your potential.

On that route, as Clankie says your degree sounds more than enough to get you in and you would start on proper wages.
However if you wanted to try Deck, (and who wouldnt?), I'm fairly sure that wearing contact lenses
need no longer be a problem. Perhaps someone with up to date knowledge can advise.
You need to talk to The Careers Office on Telephone - 08456 040520
for some accurate information which is more than us old fogeys can offer.
More contact info - Telephone 023 9272 5371
• Write to The Recruitment Offi ce, DNR RFA,
Room 122, Victory Building, HM Naval Base,
Portsmouth PO1 3LS
• Go to www.rfa.mod.uk to see a virtual reality tour of
working for the RFA
• Email: rfarecruit@gtnet.gov.uk

jimmys
21st April 2008, 09:18
Now we have a bit more information my recommendation is a bit different.

I suggest you now apply to the Royal Navy recruitment with the requisite forms through your local recruiting office. Your university will have all the details.

Do not be put off by what is in the pamphlets concerning qualifications, your form will lay out your qualifications and the rest is for the recruiting officer. There is a sea change in how engineers and other officers are recruited nowadays and BEng(hons) graduates are in short supply. Organizations such as the navy are recruiting for officers from the non traditional graduates such as accountancy and others. Matters of contact lenses are not material.

I feel it is not the best route to go backwards from a degree to HND training as a cadet in the MN. not initially anyway but it may be considered later.

The Naval courses are in house and are very good and until you apply you will not know what is on offer, deck,weapons, engine room,surveillance etc.
I know for a fact they take graduates from other disciplines and train them.

It does no harm to get applications in you do not need to accept. A new raft of ships coming to the navy they are recruiting for young officers.

regards

Dave Wilson
21st April 2008, 09:22
A Ship Managers Perpective
Chris,
You seem to have received a lot of support on this thread ranging from Radio Operators to Master Mariners.
My own advice is this:
The RFA is like a second choice for those who were not successful in entering the RN and they remain frustrated for ever more. Perhaps that is why they are not normal.
Ship Managers are no longer really committed to the British system and are dishonorable in leading Cadets down the road. Colleges are regular visitors to our office looking for 'Comfort/smoke screans' to pass on. An elitist system will prevail where you will find the big cruise ship operators retaining their 'token' British staff (with a feed for this requirement) and that is fine for the FEW.
Indian/Filipino senior officers are in vogue for the future.
If a cruise ship fulfils your ambitions fine but just make sure you have the right connections and become one of the FEW.
Do not end up on the scrap heap like those who were ill advised.

PS: Maintain your studies and become a Marine Lawyer as that is as close to ships as you want to be.

In 2010 we can expect a recession in shipping which will take years to climb out of . Some describe it as a 'bloodbath'.
DO NOT BECOME A CASUALTY! ( I'll be retired)

BA204259
21st April 2008, 09:28
Chris

If, in your heart of hearts you really want to go to sea, you must give it a go. If not, throughout the coming years there will be many occasions when the thought comes to you...."what if?"...."if only I'd tried..."

On the other hand, if having tried it you decide it isn't for you, you can leave. You must decide what (if any) damage 6 months or two years at sea would have on any future career and if it is worth it. Possibly it may have a positive benefit as some employers may appreciate somebody with a bit of life's experience, somebody who has been around a bit. Or not. Even if you really take to it you may have a spouse/partner who is not over-keen on you being away so much and brings pressure to bear to find a shore job. So many things to think about.

But if you really, really want it - do it. Whatever you do in life will involve risks and there's nothing you can do about that. You must also appreciate that it isn't the career it was 40 years ago and never will be again.

Lancastrian
21st April 2008, 10:46
"The RFA is like a second choice for those who were not successful in entering the RN and they remain frustrated for ever more"
I dont know what experience makes you feel you can make such an insulting statement, but it is totally untrue.
The RFA offers a Merchant Navy type career with added interest and variety without all the rigours and rigid structure of the Armed Forces.
And the leave and opportunity for a something approaching a normal family life without having to keep moving house are far better.

Regarding Engineering Training, in addition to the HND scheme, there is a Foundation Degree scheme for those with A Levels.

Dave Wilson
21st April 2008, 11:00
"The RFA is like a second choice for those who were not successful in entering the RN and they remain frustrated for ever more"
I dont know what experience makes you feel you can make such an insulting statement, but it is totally untrue.
.

Experience of sailing with ex RFA personnel. They probably did a very good job in the RFA but I found them 'wanting' in many areas. Indeed in some less practical areas they excelled. No insults intended just my experience. It is what it is.

Lancastrian
21st April 2008, 11:42
Ah, but they were EX RFA personnel!
Obviously they didnt make the grade!

Dave Wilson
21st April 2008, 11:47
All depends on what you mean by making the grade!

Does 'making the grade' mean that you have to say in that organisation all your working life?

Lancastrian
21st April 2008, 15:48
No, but it gives one more authority to comment on career prospects with that organisation.

Dave Wilson
21st April 2008, 15:51
No, but it gives one more authority to comment on career prospects with that organisation.

Agreed!

McCloggie
21st April 2008, 17:55
Hi everyone - new to the site so should probably have said "hello" first but things need to be said here. My background is RN deck officer and oil and gas industry - a bit complicated but I will explain one day.

Chris;

I have never met an RFA Officer who joined up because he was rejected by or could not become an RN Officer. I think that comment is unfair. The two services are completely different - although now there is a fair bit of cross training I have to admit.

Do you want to join the RN - think hard! The RN is going through a tough patch just now - cost cutting, reduced manning, less oppertunities etc. etc. At the end of the day what does the RN deck officer have as qualifications when he leaves? The ability to be a warefare specialist is great in the forces but not many civvy employers want that skill.

Oil and gas industry - we are always looking for good guys with proper qualifications and in the floating production world there is a shortage of European trained guys that can come in at Technician level (usually 2/0 qualified as a minimum) on marine, engineering and the process side. Wages are good and most companies work 28 on/28 off abroad and North Sea now is 14 on/21 off. Not a bad number.

Marine Lawyer? Another few years at college and then you need to get articles somewhere so more time spent not earning and by the time you look for articles you will be fighting against younger people from Oxford/Cambridge with better degrees.

So, as an accountant, what should you do? If you have the time and you qualify as a Marine Engineer AND you have ppropriate accountancy experience you are ripe for senior management!

To start a new career now may be difficult - not impossible but difficult. I would say look to see if you can get any college exemptions with your existing qualifications and consider how long it would take to re-qualify. Going in as a Supply Officer is an option but it seems pretty dead end and you will make far more dosh ashore. Deck Officer opens a lot more doors in terms of inspection, surveyor, etc. A good MN trained Engineer however will always be in demand in a variety of industries ranging from oil and gas to power generation.

McC

R651400
21st April 2008, 19:04
Sound posting McC. Welcome to SN, hope you enjoy the site. Regds

R651400
22nd April 2008, 12:53
First time I've encountered a request for info on going to sea and being inundated with replies on what to do when one comes ashore!
The fact that the British MN no longer exists in it's original form is irrelevant. Anyone who has been down the foc route in the old days, knows how precarious it could be but worth the effort to make the change.
Seafaring has moved to an international strata and if anyone can tell me there are no lucrative positions for those with appropriate qualifications on cruise, container, tanker or bulker companies flying a myriad of foc's, then I despair.

McCloggie
22nd April 2008, 13:14
I think the opportunities ARE there and that the foc arguement has come full circle. On my present job we will be Netherlands Antilles but the crew - and this involves a passage from SIngapore to EUropr as well - will be basically European and of course STCW qualified.

Supply boats and anchor handlers round the world may not be as glamerous as the old "Red Duster" cargo liner and the work is probably harder but I could argue that the guys onboard are better qualified and are subject to more rules and regulations than ever before. Rightly so too.

There seems to be an increase in ship building in general and these vessels need to be manned. From my perspective of the offshore side of things with a little knowledge of the cruise business throught friends, it seems that there are more opportunities for European now than there was a few years ago.

Also, am I not right in saying that there are now more UK registered ships than there were a few years ago?

McC

Dave Wilson
22nd April 2008, 13:43
Also, am I not right in saying that there are now more UK registered ships than there were a few years ago?

McC

Mac,
I think Rob Kotteman brought this up some days ago and it was agreed by all that the flag means nothing when those onboard have never seen the skies over UK..........FOC connotations and all that.

R651400
23rd April 2008, 14:22
I think the opportunities ARE there and that the foc arguement has come full circle. On my present job we will be Netherlands Antilles but the crew - and this involves a passage from SIngapore to EUropr as well - will be basically European and of course STCW qualified.

Anther sound posting McC and very much to the point in chris-edinburgh's original quest for information.
Never gave much thought to viewing the skies over Monrovia when I was foc. Netherlands Antilles/ Curacao? Well that could be a different matter!

K urgess
24th April 2008, 12:44
To remove the irrelevant posts from this thread they have been moved to here (http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/showthread.php?t=18358) in the mess deck since they have nothing to do with the RFA and even less to do with Chris's appeal for help.

slick
24th April 2008, 13:55
Chris,
I served some 32 years in the RFA, it is different make no mistake, however I did all the necessary things to gain the relevant experience for my certificates.
Things are always changing so just go with the flow.
Once you get into the RFA and training starts it's as good as anyones it always was.
Alright there is a close affinity with the Royal Navy, there has to be, it is what makes it work.
The RFA are the best of all the Replenishment ships just ask anyone in NATO.
Check the Daily Telegraph and you'll see that RFA Officers go to Dartmouth and other Naval Bases, on what I would imagine are fairly enjoyable experiences, for example I once spent a week on an American destroyer on exchange.
However I understand that there is waiting list to get in!, it never used be like that.
By the way all the Cocktail parties were paid for in 1982.
I know the above are a bit historical but I've no regrets.
Anyway good luck.
Yours aye,
Slick

BA204259
24th April 2008, 13:59
Thanks slick, you've restored some sanity.:) Plus being useful to Chris... who has probably given up all hope by now..

R651400
25th April 2008, 05:56
who has probably given up all hope by now..

Think you could be right BA204259. Pity R/O's are now in dodoland, we could have led him down the path of righteousness...

James_C
25th April 2008, 09:06
Don't the RFA still have what are now called Communications Officers and Ratings?
Vague memories of some Gents with blue (not purple) in their braid.

JohnBP
25th April 2008, 10:28
I left the sea (MN) many years ago (engineering), its a tough life, I never met anyone, deck or engineroom that wanted to be there.. if you plan to get married one day then its even tougher...

Lancastrian
25th April 2008, 10:34
Don't the RFA still have what are now called Communications Officers and Ratings?
Vague memories of some Gents with blue (not purple) in their braid.

Yes. Some of the Comms Officers are surviving R/Os. Others are promoted from Comms Ratings who are either ex RN or recruited and trained from scratch.
Only one Officer per ship though, so not many career opportunities.

Chris (if you are still there), Dont listen to JohnBP. Many of us stuck it out for the duration and quite enjoyed it even if we might not have often admitted it. The only way to find whether it suits you is to try it for yourself.

R651400
25th April 2008, 10:39
.. if you plan to get married one day then its even tougher...

Chris if you're still on this wavelength? Before the proverbial hit the fan, I was going to say the only qualification (SN buzz word) that you will ever have to worry about if you eventually get to sea, will be a marriage certificate..

chris-edinburgh
25th April 2008, 19:39
I'm still here just been reading all the posts, wasn't expecting such a response!

chris-edinburgh
10th May 2008, 14:44
I've been thinking about this a bit further and I know what people were saying about me being about 25-26 by the time I am finished training if I join as an Officer Cadet.
I know that there is opportunity for ratings to qualify as officers and I feel this may be a better short term plan for myself to join as a rating and then do the rating to officer scheme if I am good enough.
Does anyone have any experience of this?

Chris

Mick Spear
10th May 2008, 15:50
I'd still give it a go Chris. The latest cadet to win 'Cadet of the year' is 45years old, or is he older Bill? With your accounting background you will also be ideal to 'Run the Bar', which I am surprised at none of our older shipmates picking up on, as this was once one of the most important jobs aboad a ship. All the best in whatever career move you make

Pat

I can't help but have a gigGle at that pun about running the bar! But you're dead right. It's just as high-profile as Captain's tiger and i did both jobs a few times over the years. CHRIS if you want it go for it, it's in your bones at the end of the day.
Mick s

James_C
10th May 2008, 16:01
Chris,
As Mick says - if you really want to do it then go for it mate!
Your age matters little in the grand scheme of things, and as has been said if you don't take to it you can easily come ashore again, although I will say you can't judge being at sea by only a few weeks aboard, give it a few months or a year to try it out. It's an experience you won't find in any walk of life, and one that will stand you in good stead in later years should you fancy a career change.
Best of luck mate!

twogrumpy
12th May 2008, 07:06
JohnBP
In your profile you said you loved your life at sea, yet in your post you say that you never met anyone who wanted to be there, were you the odd one out?
Did my 18 years with BP and enjoyed the majority of it, look back at the bad times smile and wonder how we did it, youth I suppose.
Do it again if I was 20, too right.
twogrumpy

OLD STRAWBERRY
12th May 2008, 07:30
Chris, Why don't You just wind up the thread and say right I'm going to do it. I should think You've had enough advice by now good and bad but mostly good. So get up off Your chuff and get on with It. keep the site posted on Your progress.
Tony.

seashell777
16th May 2008, 10:31
I am 35 and have just applied to join the RFA. I have always loved the sea and spent many years as a yacht skipper, I think it's never too late to start a new career...you only live once!

K urgess
16th May 2008, 10:58
Welcome to the crew.
Best of luck with your chosen career I'm sure there must be a lot of our crew that would love to join you.

seashell777
26th May 2008, 15:30
I'm trying to find out if the 2 day assessment at the Admiralty Interview Board at HMS Sultan is exactly the same for both RFA applicants and Royal Navy applicants? There seems to be loads of info on the MOD website about the RN assessment but nothing is mentioned about the RFA assessment.
Any info. would be appreciated from people who have already done it!

Lancastrian
26th May 2008, 19:52
seashell777. I doubt any of the RFA salts on here have been anywhere near an AIB. BOT orals was enough for us.

dondoncarp
26th May 2008, 20:53
I went to sea as a deck boy in 1982
rfa falklands...after that done fyffes banana reefers cunard reefers united baltic shell tankers...met my wife while on UBC....get any tickets you want go to sea....when you wanna settle down plenty of ferry jobs about...ive worked townsend p&0 sealink hoverspeed speedferries....just go with it and see what happens

Art
2nd June 2008, 14:44
Hi Chris,

Art Quinn here, I was in the RFA in 82' I did six months training then at the National Sea Training College in Gravesend and then joined the RFA Fort Grange and did a tour in the Falklands. Can't give you much advice on the studying end of things but would highly recommend the RFA, it's a professionally run outfit and I loved every second of it and sorely miss it. I highly recommend the RFA, I wish I was still there. Follow your heart as I did and you'll get a result, all the best in the future and go for it!, lucky git! Art

SailingAndy
12th January 2009, 21:23
Hi Chris,

I wondered how you got on? I'm in a similar position, same age, board of my desk job etc., although personally I'm looking for a job in the oil/offshore construction or possibly trinity marine. Just wondered how you'd got on.

Cheers,

Andy

cryan
12th January 2009, 22:00
Andy,
I was in the MN then went into the offshore construction/ oil and gas industry with ROV's before coming inshore with harbour tugs. Although anyone with a relevant trade can get into the offshore industry they are always hungry for Marine Engineers from the MN and for that matter the RN as they are used to being away from home and working in arduous conditions and of course well trained. If you want a MN cadetship on Offshore vessels thenn Maersk or Clyde Marine is best. Cadet Money is crap but it is apprentice wages and they are always bad. if you are not willing to take the financial hit to complete the training then in all honesty you probably don't have the right mindset to do the job. But atleast it is all paid for unlike numerous companies offering training ashore. P&O cruises do a good cadetship and are good payers (certainley used to paty their cadets more than RFA) Clyde Marine were historically the worst paid. But as I said the difference of 50 quid a month shouldn't be the deciding factor. I would recomend an Egineering Officer Cadetship in the MN (including the RFA, since they all use the same colleges and each class may have fifteen different companies cadets in it) as it is by far the best engineering training I have ever encountered anywhere, and certainly ahead of the RN. You can still have a good life at sea if you want it, don't listen to all the oldsalts whinging, its just wat they do. Offshore Oil work is hard though, 12 hour shifts and no real quiet times, its all about the dollar and nothing else which is fine as long as you realise that, slackers will be returned to the beach very quickly. North Sea is OK but cold, West Africa/ India/Far East is much more exciting and more like the old pioneering days where it is anything to get the job done which most engineers enjoy more.
try http://www.seacareers.co.uk/
http://www.ms-sc.org/
http://www.gotosea.org/

Most important don't regret not doing it in 20 years, its a hell of a journey and you will either love it or hate it,, if you hate it you won't last two minutes. but give it a go you may be surprised.... PM me if you have any other questions

kevhogg
12th January 2009, 22:22
Chris,
If you want to go to sea give it a go mate.I went to sea as a deckboy 24 yr ago and after sailing with most companies in that time Iam now sailing as cheif mate in the carribean on a tanker.Had a brilliant time and met some cracking lads.Oh and by the way to all those who say married life and the job don't work-load of b*****ks mate I been married 17yr all the time deep sea.Just give the job a try mate although wouldn't reccomend RFA if you want to experience the Merchant Navy

SailingAndy
12th January 2009, 23:59
Hi,

Thanks for the info. I was considering the Deck route. I guess 'cos I've done a bit of yachting and can already navigate, plus call me soft but I do like to see the sky.

I'm not too worried about not liking it. I think your quite right, if I do not like it I'll last a maximum of one voyage.

I am a little more concerned about there not really being a call for UK staff once I qualify. I can see how the owners need to fill their tonnage tax requirements so train cadets, but don't employ them afterwards.

Great to hear some positive voices anyway, thanks.

cryan
13th January 2009, 18:26
Andy,
There is plenty of work for British Officers Deck and Engine on many types of vessels especially Offshore and Passenger. The Navigation / Seamanship Deck side will be a lot more in depth than anything the RYA will teach you for yachts. Plus more stuff like stabilility, Cargo etc. A few guys I sailed with in P&O cruises went on to super yachts which they enjoyed. One tip though I would keep the Yachting thing under your hat, fair bit of tension between professional Seamen and those that try and cut up a Container ship at the Calshot in a yacht. Steam does not always give way to sail. One thing I have learned recently is that harbour towage is quite fun and exciting and you get home every night,, of course you need your tickets first. but its a nice job after being deep sea or offshore support.

SailingAndy
15th January 2009, 21:30
here is plenty of work for British Officers Deck and Engine on many types of vessels especially Offshore and Passenger.

Good to hear. There's certainly a lot of hype about skills shortage, just wanted some opinions from those on the inside.

One tip though I would keep the Yachting thing under your hat, fair bit of tension between professional Seamen and those that try and cut up a Container ship at the Calshot in a yacht. Steam does not always give way to sail.

I was actually introduced to yachting by an ex Merchant navy officer (now flying planes). I always wondered why the jokes about steam giving way to sail, now I know.

Harbour towage has looked like fun when I've watched them do it and very skillfull too in my humble opinion.

Thanks for the replies.

aquanut
20th January 2009, 02:22
An interesting thread.

for "seashell777", I can tell them that the RFAIB is identical to the AIB... I went on it recently, with three other RFAIBers, four SUYs, and four WAFU.

For "chris_edinburgh" I hope to join the Marine Engineering Cadetship next year, after I finish my masters in electro, aged "around 30"! ...married, with children.

Frankly I would join as a rating if it was the only way in... that may raise an awful lot of eyebrows, but let me just point out that, for me at least (and having children does yield some financial benefits), the pay, conditions, and free training is actually very attractive and valuable; as is being employed by the state as a civil servant, particularly in this potential depression.

I did the sums for a "normal" graduate job, it just doesn't add up... you get just enough to live on without any fancy extras like holidays, new clothes, and consumer-electronics-baubles! More to the point, it seems to lead to naught but a hamster-like existence, once the "benign overseers" hack a third out of your pay-packet in tax to support themselves [oo-er, bit political!].

For me, I like the long holiday periods (good for family holidays I imagine), the potential tax free wages (not 100% guaranteed, but, given the right circumstances, possible), sense of adventure (going on a voyage, and having some experiences to talk about), and time away from the wife (with her sisters - bu-bum, tish!)!

More to the point, you've got to look beyond "languishing in the oily din of the engine room pit" to the possibilities of working offshore in other lucrative and interesting places... I certainly like the sound of one day working in the oil industry.

when I contemplate the idea of sitting in the same tatty commuter train, or hunched over a steering wheel on that same tedious stretch of motorway in a jam, in the dark rainy British nights, to return to a coronation street 2-up 2-down where I can see the dross on the telly on in the house over the road from my armchair, and have to contemplate dragging my fundament through yet another three hours of supermarket trolley shoving; or "trip to t' shops in town"; or dodging the kebabs and sick and boring drunken shouty fighty men for yet another repetitive night of binging "thrills" down the local, it becomes a little easier to think about building an alternative life.

There is hype about engineering shortages in general... what many suspect they might mean is: "if we don't get some new recruits soon, we're going to have to put the wages up (or lower the admission criteria to 3rd class BEngs... ive seen ads for that! bear in mind a BEng 2.2 seems to be worth a BA 2.1 in terms of the job market), or lobby parliament for some more immigrants to work for the same money... hence the cynicism of some regarding career prospects at sea; however, there are jobs for "the natives", and it is by far the more logical mindset to have to decide that you may as well have a go if you understand something about it, and want it as a career.

In the end, you shouldn't over analyse stuff (in fact, (ironically) scientists have demonstrated that the gut instinct is usually more accurate than the cost-benefit analysis! http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/16/science/16angi.html) - go with your gut.
Don't just work for the money... find the balance between what you can earn and how much fun you can have... you don't want to spend your whole life grinding away and never be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour (well I don't, and I've lost a bit of time already).

If you want to learn more about the RFA, you ought to google for and visit the TOOTP forum, where you'll get most of the info you need straight from the monkey, if not the organ grinder's parrot. (Hippy)