Where And Where???

11th November 2008, 18:56
Hello honourable crew members and wisemen!

Essentially, this is an update of my 'Cooks Jobs' section, but anyways, regardless of the HUGE NET out there, I can't find any sites about becoming a cook/chef in the Merchant Navy, and I can only find absolutely minimal information about the job.

Where is recruitment?

I'd be grateful to hear from current or former cooks onboard.........

Also, I'd be delighted if some cooks or former cooks could give me a brief insight into the life of a Merchant Naval cook. Thanks very much!


P.S - Please PM me if you can help
(Edited to remove email address as per site policy)

11th November 2008, 22:20
Hi Have you tried the RFA. I am an ex Cook and have been ashore a long time now (not without the odd yearning to return). However I was at a careers fare a couple of years back and the RFA had a stand there. I was talking to the recruitment team and they said even at my tender age of the 42 they would take me on (even up to the age of 50) could be worth a go. No doubt someone on this site will have a contact number or adress for them.

I seriously considered returning to the sea myself recently and got talking to a currently serving cook / manager working supply and dive in the North Sea. It sounds as though the changes since my day have been massive and now I'm not sure wheteher I could just be suffering a bad case of nostalgic overload. I do know one thing though, the twelve years I spent at sea were the best of my life and I don't regret a single minute of them. Good luck with your endeavors and I really hope it works out for you.

PS If you fancy the offshore thing Clyde Marine could be the people to talk to. Me though give me deep sea everytime.

12th November 2008, 17:29
Thanks mate.

Will look into it ;)

stevie burgess
14th November 2008, 01:38
Hazonline,I have been reading your posts and if you have no qualifications whatsoever i suggest you contact RFA and they may put you through these basic courses but you certainly won't start off straight away as a cook, probably as a galley boy then work your way up through the ranks. By the way how old are you,not trying to be cheeky? RFA is a good enough number to get into these days career wise as there's not a big lot else around. I will give you address for RFA: RFA RECRUITMENT OFFICER, OFFICE OF THE COMMODORE, RFA FLOTILLA, LANCELOT BUILDINGS, PP29, HM NAVAL BASE PORTSMOUTH, PO1 3NH. TEL:02392 725923. Good luck!

14th November 2008, 17:08
Cheers very much mate.

Yeah, I'm 14 :)

My Dad was Royal Navy Officer, but I'm not really bothered about weapons engineering or anything in the military, well, RFA at most.

But where do other chefs train? Surely if I just took a random ship and it's cook, the chances are they wouldn't have been in the RFA?

Thanks anyway.

Rather off the subject (it's not worth a new thread), an ex-Merch steward told me if I wanted to see as many ports as possible, smallish grain ships are a good idea, could any of you give me a list of grain and clay carriers? Don't go to any trouble, just, ya know -

thanks anyway.

God I feel like such a bloody black sheep amongst you lot, a flock of experience sailors. Ah well.

Bon voyage, a sandwich awaits my arrival.

I'm talking a lot,


14th November 2008, 22:19
What used to happen mate was that there was a thing called the British Shipping Federation (or pool for short) now defunct. On leaving school you would apply to them for a job in the particular field you wanted to work in at sea ie the Galley. They would then send you off to Gravesend Sea School (now a police training college) for a 14 week course in the basics. On completion you would then sign onto your local pool, go home (or to the pub) and wait for them to phone you with a ship to join. Others like myself were sponsored through Gravesend by companies such as BP and were then pretty much guaranteed ships soon after leaving.
You would then go through the ranks with that particular company starting off as Galley boy, then Steward onto 2nd cook & baker, up to the dizzy heights of chief cook, then catering officer if the fancy took you. I did my cooks tickets at South Shields Marine & Tech college. Most of the companies including the pool in those days had their favoured colleges. Much I imagine is the case with the RFA who are probably one of the last remaining companies that will take on British Catering ratings seeing as most others have long since replaced us British cooks with foriegn labour, except the North Sea boats. I suggest you speak to them as a starting point

15th November 2008, 12:22
Thanks man that's really helpful.


kewl dude
16th November 2008, 03:38

USA Seafarers International Union (SIU) September 2005 union newspaper story about ten step, month long, galley department training at Paul Hall Center from entry rating to Steward.

Greg Hayden

16th November 2008, 21:52
But that's a US citizen only thing, right?
Thanks anyway buddy.

I think it would be amazing to be a cook in the Merchant Navy. It's a lifestyle and all the crew are like brothers. It'd be hard but rewarding work. Get paid to see the world?? Yes please. If there's one thing that pisses me off it's when the Merch arn't thought about - which is all the time by the looks of things. There's little tribute to THEM on Remembrance Days, but the RFA crews are in more danger than the Royal Navy crews, and all Merchant ships are in more danger during the war. Defenceless. In my opinion, every seafarer is a hard-working loyal person.

I've been thinking a lot about joining the bridge, but I'm not sure my science is that good.

Still, thanks for all your help - it really does help me find out about stuff I can go onto. Keep adding if you know anything else, I'm extremely grateful for all this info!

I'd love to get in contact with any cooks or former cooks out there to talk about a cooks life at sea. God - it's bloody interesting!

The sea is freedom! Bring it on!

17th November 2008, 20:37
Being a cook in the Merch is great, believe me not many more rewarding jobs. It's bloody hard work getting there though. You put up with all sorts of s$%t. First couple of trips be prepared to take all the flak. The younger you are the worse it is. The butt of all jokes and wind up's. It's all part of the process that you have to go through to earn your fellow crew members respect. You take all the crap and do all the crap. Peel spuds, wash dishes, mop decks, polish cutlery, wash more dishes, clean out toilets, then more toilets. What I'm saying is that you start at the bottom and only get up through your own grit and determination. Nobody hands you anything on a plate, it's got to be earned. You work seven days a week every trip, and long hours. The saving grace for catering staff is your mainly day shift. The rewards are fantastic and you must learn to appreciate them. Take a look at the threads on this site and see how many ex seafarers say the same thing, that they did'nt appreciate what being at sea had to offer until in some cases it was to late.

I really hope you realise your dream, it's a great life, hard at times though, bad weather, the odd bad trip, the odd bad person (you find them in every walk of life). Good luck I sincerely wish you all the best. If it's any motivation I wish I had a pound for every mate who said I was worse than mad for going to sea when I left school, then years later said"bloody hell mate I wish I'd done what you did when we left school", I'd be a rich man by now.

17th November 2008, 21:02
Hazonline, you could try NERC, (National Enviromental Research Centre), they operate the James Clarke Ross and Ernest Shackelton,(British Antarctic Survey) the two boats that go to the South Pole, they also have a couple of boats that do some kind of ocean seabed surveys. Trinity House have two ships that repair lightbouys around the UK, both these companies may give you a start.

17th November 2008, 21:43
Kevjacko - sounds brilliant, thanks dude.

timo - cheers, will look into it.