What is the Royal Navy’s Policy on Mixed Sleeping Accommodation Aboard Ships?

The Royal Navy has a no mixed sleeping accommodation policy – with accommodation and messing discussed within the Queen’s Regulations for the Royal Navy (Chapter 81).

This is further amplified in Ships General Orders:

  • Right of Entry to Messdecks:
    • Entry to messdecks (of which a sailor is not a member) allocated to the opposite sex is not allowed except:
      • Where the safety of personnel or the ship may be threatened.
      • When required to do so, on duty, to carry out round or shakes.
      • When required, on duty, to gain access to officers, equipment, stores, or to carry out maintenance in those or adjacent compartments.
      • For messdecks, access will be allowed between the hours of 0800 and 2230, when an invitation has been extended by a mess member and approved by the President/Leading Hand of the Mess (LHOM), providing that messdecks are arranged such that adequate privacy is afforded to those sleeping/changing etc.
    • Visits to Messdecks:
      • All personnel of the opposite sex must be clear of the messdeck they are visiting by 2230.
      • Visits are to be confined to the recreational spaces of messdecks.
      • Members of the opposite sex are not to enter the sleeping quarters except as required in the course of their duties or to carry out shakes.
      • Visits should normally be confined to groups of a minimum of two members of the opposite sex.
      • If in doubt, Presidents/LHOM are to seek approval for visits from the Executive Officer or, in their absence, the Officer of the Day (OOD).

The Royal Navy states that the considerations that have been given to maintaining the no mixed sleeping accommodation are for areas concerning the following groups of people:

  • Young single people;
  • Single people with strong religious beliefs;
  • Parents of young people (particularly young females) wishing to join the Royal Navy; and
  • The partners of those in mixed accommodation.

However, the Royal Navy also states that it should be noted that in the case of ships in a mess deck there is very little space and therefore no privacy.

With regard to the consequences of crew failing to follow this policy, dependent upon the particular circumstances of the case, infringement of the policy may result in disciplinary action.


FOI 2018/00236 dated 29 January 2018.


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