Explore: Engineering

Engineering Officer
Royal Fleet Auxilliary

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Gary R

00:00:03 My name’s Gary R, I’m an Engineering Officer, and I work for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary supplies and supports the Armed Forces around the world. We’ve got ships that can transport ships, tank, machinery. We’ve also got ships that carry stores, ammunition.

00:00:29 The most interesting aspect of being an engineer, is the sense of achievement which happens – team work – that happens on board when you have a problem, there’s more than one person who’s more than willing to give a hand. It’s the achievement of keeping the ship running. Just the pride of doing a job correctly.

00:00:58 This was my way of seeing the world. My Granddad was in the Royal Navy in the Second World War, and that sort of got me thinking that I’d want to go away to sea. At school that’s all I ever thought about, that’s all I ever wanted to do, was go away to sea.

00:01:16 I got my first – my first job was with Shell, in 1987, and I was a Deck Boy, I wasn’t an Engineer, and I had 13 weeks of Sea School in Gravesend in Kent. It was – it was a horrible place, I couldn’t wait to leave. I know people live in Gravesend, but I hate the place. Only for that reason of the Sea School. It’s – I joined my first ship in Brazil. I flew out to Rio de Janeiro at 17, in 1987. And it was – it was a new experience, it was great. But we got to the hotel – we didn’t want to leave the hotel so – we seen the statue of Christ and wow that was great, and thought, we’ll get back. I’ve never been back since!

00:02:13 As the years went past, and seeing the Officers, the Engineers, I wanted to move up. When I was an AB I had a Radio Officer who said to me I’d never be an – I’d never be an Officer. I say – I just – yep, I will be, you know, I will. It’s just determination, and not actually stopping, not throwing the towel in. And just giving it your best shot, working hard, and asking for advice. And Shell gave me the opportunity to improve. I left school with just a couple of lower level GCSEs and CSEs, and when I got the opportunity to do the year at Glasgow Nautical College, I jumped – I jumped at it. And it’s – that was a pivotal moment in my career, doing the Ratings to Officer course, and it’s opened a lot more horizons, a lot more jobs.

00:03:25 In 21 years it’s had its ups, it’s had its downs, I’ve seen a lot and I’ve lived a lot. It’s been great, it really has. The only drawback is when you start getting a family, young kids. But for a young lad, I went and seen the world. Still not been to Australia though, still not been to New Zealand, or Russia. Been to a lot of other places, but it’s been really, really good.

00:03:55 ENDS


Gary R is an Engineering Officer in the Royal Fleet Auxilliary. He has worked his way up from being a deck boy. He was helped by Shell, who sent him on a Ratings to Officer course. “I jumped at it… That was a pivotal moment in my career.”

More information about Ship and hovercraft officers

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

90%  male 
10%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Ship and hovercraft officers command and navigate ships and other craft, co-ordinate the activities of officers and deck and engine room ratings, operate and maintain communications equipment on board ship and undertake minor repairs to engines, boilers and other mechanical and electrical equipment.
Entrants usually possess GCSEs/S grades and A levels/H grades. Good colour vision without spectacles or contact lenses is required for some posts and candidates must undergo a medical examination. Training lasts three to four years and combines taught courses and assessed training at sea.
  • Allocates duties to ship’s officers and co-ordinates and directs the activities of deck and engine room ratings;
  • Directs or undertakes the operation of controls to inflate air cushions, run engines and propel and steer ships, hovercraft and other vessels;
  • Locates the position of vessel using electronic and other navigational aids such as charts and compasses and advises on navigation where appropriate;
  • Monitors the operation of engines, generators and other mechanical and electrical equipment and undertakes any necessary minor repairs;
  • Maintains radio contact with other vessels and coast stations;
  • Prepares watch keeping rota and maintains a look-out for other vessels or obstacles;
  • Maintains log of vessel’s progress, weather conditions, conduct of crew, etc.
Employment by region
Top 10 industries for this job
Warehousing, etc 7300
Public admin. & defence 3065
Water transport 1820
Other personal service 1605
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