Last Updated: 23 February, 2015


Training is the process of preparing men and women for their careers in the military. Training is progressive and continues all the way through an individual’s career; being a mixture of mandatory, optional, individual and collective training and educational programmes.

The purpose of initial naval (Phase 1) training is to turn civilian recruits into partly-trained naval officers and ratings ensuring that they are ready for subsequent phases of specialist (Phase 2) training, having completed initial training to prescribed standards and gained an appreciation of the seagoing environment. Those who pass are fully prepared to embark on the next phase of their naval training.

The Royal Navy is one of the UK’s largest training organisations and provides a wide range of accredited professional courses, lasting anything from a few days to several years and at every level from basic skills to postgraduate degrees. Most of their courses give personnel qualifications recognised outside the Royal Navy, so they can easily transfer their skills to civilian life.

This article is divided into seven sections for easier reading with the first section providing a brief overview of the structure of the Royal Navy, whilst the next section provides an overview of the current training landscape. The following two sections look at initial naval training for ratings and officers respectively. Finally, the article will present an alternative view on the role of Phase 1 initial training, before providing some useful links.

Structure of the Royal Navy

The Royal Navy is made up of a number of shore establishments and fighting units which are categorised into one of these two groupings:

  1. Fighting Units: these include:
    1. Fleet Air Arm (aircraft including multi-role fighters and helicopters);
    2.  Surface Fleet (ships such as assault ships, destroyers, frigates, and patrol and mine countermeasures);
    3.  Submarine Service (attack and ballistic submarines);
    4. The Royal Marines (not discussed here);
    5. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) (not discussed here).
  2. On Shore Units: these include:
    1. Navy Command HQ: base of the Commander-in-Chief Fleet, his deputy and the Second Sea Lord (2SL). Based at Whale Island, it includes the Command Centre in Northwood and also has support staff in Portsmouth Naval Base. It also houses the Fleet Battle Staff, Maritime Warfare Centre and the Flag Officer Sea Training HQ (FOST HQ).
    2. Shore Establishments: these units training Royal Navy personnel for the challenges of life at sea, offering everything from initial training to apprenticeships and post graduate degrees.
    3. Naval Bases: these are the home to the Royal Navy’s surface and submarine fleet of ships. Portsmouth, Davenport and Clyde Naval bases offer support to their base ships in the areas of personnel, engineering and supplies.
    4. Air Stations: Culdrose in Cornwall and Yeovilton in Somerset are home to the Fleet Air Arm’s front-line and training squadrons.

The Royal Navy is made up of both Commissioned Officers and Other Ranks (known as Ratings).

An Overview of the Royal Navy’s Military Training Landscape

With regards to on shore units, the Royal Navy’s initial military training landscape has undergone a number of changes over the past 20 years. Figure 1, below, presents the ‘current’ (February 2014) Royal Navy military training landscape.

00,08a - Figure 1

Figure 1: Royal Navy military training landscape

Chief of Naval Personnel and Training

The Chief of Naval Personnel and Training (CNPT), a Vice Admiral and the Second Sea Lord, is the Naval Service’s Principal Personnel Officer (PPO). CNPT is responsible for ensuring that sufficient men and women of the right quality are recruited and trained to meet the needs of the service. The CNPT is a member of the Navy Board with responsibility for all personnel and training issues.

Flag Officer Sea Training Organisation

The Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) and Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Training) (ACNS(T)), a Rear Admiral, is the head of the FOST organisation. FOST has overall responsibility for naval training and maintaining standards from the initial training of recruits through to whole-ship training ready for operations. As such FOST operations can be divided into three inter-related functions:

  1. Recruit (Phase 1) training: initial training of recruits and officer cadets in naval skills;
  2. Specialist (Phase 2) training: special to arm training, to prepare ratings and officers for their first appointment; and
  3. Career (Phase 3) Training: continuation training and professional development.

From the Naval Bases at Plymouth, the Clyde in Scotland and a small team at Northwood in Middlesex, FOST provides Operational Sea Training (OST) for all surface ships, submarines and Royal Fleet Auxiliaries of the Royal Navy by a dedicated team of experts, led by FOST.

Over 100 ships and submarines from the Royal Navy and navies of NATO and allied nations benefit from FOST’s training expertise each year. Training is delivered as and when required throughout a unit’s life. FOST also supports both individual and collective training ashore for submarines.

Commander Core Naval Training

The Commander Core Naval Training (COM CORE TRG), a Commodore, has oversight and responsibility for all Initial Naval Training or Phase 1 training undertaken at BRNC, HMS RALEIGH and for all phases of training undertaken at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) in Lympstone. COM CORE TRG is also responsible for all through life career development and continuous Command, Leadership and Management (CLM) training for all Officers in the Naval Service.

Commander Britannia Royal Naval College

The Commander Britannia Royal Naval College (CBRNC), a Commodore, is responsible for the standard and output of the Royal Navy’s leadership academy. CBRNC is also responsible for the Initial Naval Training (Officer) programme, ongoing training of the leadership of the Royal Navy and in over-all charge of the Initial Naval Training (Ratings) programme at HMS Raleigh. The Commanding Officer of HMS Raleigh is the deputy of CBRNC. Finally, CBRNC is responsible for the Admiralty Interview Board (AIB), although not a member.

Initial Naval Training (Ratings)

Initial Naval Training (Ratings) (INT(R)) is conducted by the Initial Naval Training School at HMS Raleigh in the South West, with a main site covering 239 acres. HMS Raleigh is the Royal Navy’s largest training establishment and the only new-entry training establishment for ratings.

INT is 10 weeks long and trainees are usually placed in classes of approximately 30. Trainees will learn basic skills, such as self discipline, teamwork and overcoming problems. In addition, trainees will be taught how to fire a SA80 assault rifle and other skills required of all sailors. Recruits are given a taste of how to operate as a team tackling floods and fires at sea and they will also have to pass a first aid course.  Fitness is crucial and a progressive regime will test individuals’ ability to, climb High Ropes and complete the assault and obstacle courses.

Training is as practical and active as possible, using simulators and a decommissioned minesweeper (HMS Brecon) to give trainees a real taste of their future careers and the environments in which they will work and fight.  The latest technology is used to make classroom learning interesting and interactive.

HMS Raleigh also provides specialist training in areas such as seamanship, submarine operations, logistics, military and board and search skills for trained ratings and officers. HMS Brecon is also used for seamanship training, board-and-search training and to give trainee chefs and stewards the opportunity to experience life in a ship’s galley.   Other facilities include extensive rifle ranges and a sinking ship simulator used to teach ratings and officers vital skills to deal with an emergency at sea.

Trainees at HMS Raleigh at divided into five divisions: Cornwell, Cunningham, Fisher, Gould and Stonehouse (provides support to injured recruits). An outline of the training delivered at HMS Raleigh can be seen in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Outline of Initial Naval Training (Ratings) at HMS Raleigh




  • Sign Contract of Employment and Swear Allegiance to the Reigning Monarch
  • Medical and Dental Checks
  • Fitness Test (2.4km run)
  • Foot Drill Introduction
  • Team Building Games
  • Core Values in the RN Lecture
  • Introduction to Initial Military Fitness (IMF)
  • Swim Test
  • Memory Skills Lesson


  • WOINT (Warrant Officer) Rounds
  • Foot Drill
  • Security and Protecting Information Lecture
  • Stress Relief Lecture
  • Personal Administration
  • IMF(3-5) and Rope Climbing
  • Military Law 2
  • Map Reading 1


  • Military Training Unit (Weapon Training and Firing)


  • IED (Improvised Explosive Devices) Lesson
  • Map Reading
  • Team Games
  • ‘Dip’ in the Harbour
  • Command and Leadership Training


  • Royal Navy Fitness Test
  • Weapon Drill Introduction
  • Law of Armed Conflict
  • IMF
  • JPA (Joint Personnel Administration) System Lecture
  • STU (Seamanship Training Unit) Training
  • Ropes (Bends and Hitches)


  • Navigation Lecture (STU)
  • STU Training
  • Equality and Diversity Lecture
  • Functional Fitness Lesson
  • RN Capabilities Lecture
  • Drill
  • Stretcher Run
  • Operational Law and Operational Decision-making Lectures


  • OCINT (Officer Commanding) Rounds
  • IMF
  • Branch Lecture (for Phase 2 training)
  • Map Reading 2
  • Weapon Drill
  • Obstacle Course Intro
  • RAS (replenishment at sea) Theory and Practical
  • Exercise Hidden Dragon (Map Reading)


  • Elementary First Aid Certificate (First Aid School)
  • Basic Fire-fighting Skills (Fire School)
  • First Aid Test
  • Foot and Weapons Drill
  • Obstacle Course


  • Ships Visit
  • NGT Exam
  • IMF Pass Out (Run Through)
  • Weapons Drill
  • Exercise Bright Diamond (HMS Brecon)


  • Pass Out Week

Commissioned Officers

Within the Royal Navy there are currently three pathways to becoming a commissioned officer: direct entry, professional entry and the upper yardman schemes.

  1. Direct Entry: are recruited as civilians and undertake a full course of training to become employable.
  2. Professionally Qualified Officers: are individuals who have qualified professionally in the civilian environment and their employment in the Royal Navy will use these qualifications. These are doctors, dentists, nursing officers and chaplains.
  3. Upper Yardman schemes: these schemes allow ratings identified as potential officers to be selected for commissioning training and operates in two ways:
    1. An Upper Yardman (UY) scheme: candidates will be under 26 (engineers 30) years of age and join a direct entry class, undertaking the same training path and is otherwise treated as a direct entry officer. Candidates for UY can transfer to any specialisation in the Royal Navy officer corps.
    2. The Senior Upper Yardman (SUY) scheme: allows for very experienced ratings identified as potential specialist officers to be commissioned. Candidates for the SUY scheme will typically be over 35 years of age (but must be over 26) and undertake a short training period at Dartmouth before being employed within the same specialisation as their rating career.

The Britannia Royal Naval College

The Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) has been at the forefront of education and development of Naval Officers in Dartmouth since 1863.

The BRNC has four key outputs:

  1. Initial Naval Training (Officer) (INT(O));
  2. Through-life command, leadership and management training across the Royal Navy (via the Royal Navy Leadership Academy);
  3. Defence diplomacy (i.e. training of international officers); and
  4. Outreach.

BRNC has four entries per year and each entry of, approximately, 140 will undergo 30 weeks of initial officer training. Typically each intake is 10% female, 10% upper yardmen (ex-sailors under 26 years) and 80% graduates, with an average age of 23-and-a-half years. Approximately 19% of these graduates will have had contact with the Royal Navy at university.

From induction, cadets need to get to grips with kit, inspections, physical stamina, drill, weapons and basic maritime skills. Cadets are assessed on knowledge of the Royal Navy, their potential for command, leadership and management, their sea sense and operational context. The learning curve is steep.

For some interesting facts about BRNC view (Porter, 2011):–historic-places/30-things-you-didn%27t-know-about-brnc/

Direct Entry Officers

The aim of INT(O) is to ensure that the young officer is ready for subsequent phases of specialist training, having completed initial training to prescribed standards and gained an appreciation of the seagoing environment. To stimulate, inspire and teach a new generation to act and react instinctively as Naval Officers in the front line: Royal Navy INT(O) BRNC Joining Guide (Word) (2013).

INT(O) is divided into three distinct phases: Militarisation, Marinisation and Initial Fleet Time, with the first two phases taking place at BRNC and the third on board a warship. The course is common to all specialisations and lasts for 30 weeks.

  • Militarisation: induction, seamanship, navigation and leadership,  culminating in the Assessed Basic Leadership Exercise (ABLE), a 4 day exercise on Dartmoor.
  • Marinisation: maritime operations, academics, further navigation, twin screw boat handling, Basic Sea Survival Course (BSSC) and maritime leadership, culminating in the Maritime Leadership Exercise (MARL), a 4 day exercise on the River Dart.
  • Initial Fleet Time (IFT): 9 weeks at sea on a capital ship culminating with the Initial Fleet Board. ABLE, MARL and IFT are all Pass/Fail assessments.
  • Other elements covered on INT(O) include: social/etiquette, ceremonial, personal development/sport/adventurous training, duties, strategic studies, computing, and presentation skills.

Table 2: Outline of Initial Naval Training (Officers) at BRNC





  • Basic skills and knowledge development
  • Team based physical training
  • Map reading, navigation, field craft and survival skills
  • 2 weeks at HMS Raleigh (1 week with the Military Training Unit and 1 week CBRNDC (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Damage Control) training
  • 4-day, assessed, practical leadership exercise on Dartmoor



  • Application of militarisation skills to a maritime environment
  • Strategic studies and maritime operations
  • Boat handling skills (River Dart)
  • Disaster relief and combat situations simulations and scenarios
  • 4-day, assessed, maritime skills exercise


Initial Fleet Time

  • 9-weeks at sea in one of the Royal Navy’s major warships learning everything from the fundamentals like on-board safety, fire fighting, damage control drills and how to use all the sea survival equipment to working in every department on board, learning how they operate and how they contribute to the ship as a whole.
  • As part of the above trainees must pass two oral assessments and one written assessment.
  • The final week involves ceremonial marching and drill for the passing-out parade where trainees officially become Royal Navy officers.


Professional Training

  • Once trainees have got the essential basic military and maritime command skills, they will begin the journey of becoming a specialist in the officer role they have chosen. This involves a combination of being at sea and in the classroom.

Professionally Qualified Officers

Professionally Qualified Officers (PQO) – including medical and nursing officers – will attend the six-month new entry Medical Officer course including a 14-week induction course at BRNC. PQOs then carry out three years of general duties on ships, submarines or with the Royal Marines.

To serve with the Royal Marines, PQOs need to complete the All Arms Commando Course (AACC). If a PQO wishes to join the Submarine Service, they will carry out further medical training in radiation medicine and atmosphere control, before spending four months at the Submarine School at HMS Raleigh to learn about all aspects of submarine operation, warfare, weapons, nuclear propulsion and escape training.

Table 3: Initial training undertaken as defined by professional qualification status



Initial Training Type

Medical Officer

Medical Degree

New Entry Medical Officer Course

Nursing Officer

BA or BSc in Adult Nursing

New Entry Medical Officer Course

Environmental Health Officer

BSc or MSc in Environmental Health accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health

Initial Naval Training (Officers)


BSc or MSc in Diagnostic Radiography

Initial Naval Training (Ratings)

Naval Nurse (Qualified)

BA or BSc in Adult or Mental Health Nursing.

Initial Naval Training (Ratings)

Nurse (Student)

Standard set by Birmingham City University for entry as an Adult Nurse Undergraduate:

BSc (Hons) Nursing – Adult

Initial Naval Training (Ratings)

Dental Officer

Dental Degree

Initial Naval Training (Officers)

Dental Nurse

Two GCSEs (or equivalent)

Initial Naval Training (Ratings)

Dental Hygienist

Diploma in Dental Hygiene or Certificate of Proficiency in Oral Hygiene

Initial Naval Training (Ratings)

Upper Yardman Schemes

Promotion to officer by ratings is via the Upper Yardman (UY) and Senior Upper Yardman (SUY) schemes and those wishing to become UY or SUY must meet the eligibility criteria as laid out in BR3 Part 7 Section 3. The UY scheme is for ratings under 26 years old who will attend INT(O) at BRNC. The SUY scheme, known as Late Entry (LE) Officers in the British Army, is for ratings over 26 years old who will attend a course at BRNC.

All SUY candidates must pass selection by the Admiralty Interview Board (AIB), which acts as the Preliminary Selection Board (PSB). Those SUY candidates recommended by the AIB are subsequently considered for selection to enter BRNC in Dartmouth by a Final Selection Board (FSB) chaired by the Captain of Naval Recruiting (CNR). Selection is subject to the requirements of the Service. The probability of selection to BRNC will vary depending upon branch/arm/specialisation. It should also be noted that selection criteria varies between the branches.

All SUY officers wear the rank insignia of an Officer Cadet whilst undertaking Initial Naval Training at BRNC, in line with their Direct Entry counterparts, and ship to the substantive rank insignia on passing out.

Military Instructor and Trainer Qualifications

All instructors at Phase 1 and 2 training establishments are required to successfully complete the Defence Train the Trainer (DTTT) course. Instructors receive induction training as well as coaching and mentoring support. New instructors shadow other instructors for at least a month before they are allowed to work on their own.

Another Perspective: Training, Inspections and Parades

If you would like to read some interesting, if not thought-provoking, articles on military inspections, parades and basic training then view:

Useful Documents

Useful Links

Listed are some links which the reader may find useful: