Britain is an island nation, and the British Government has always understood the importance of controlling and defending Britain’s seas. This is still a big part of what the Royal Navy does, but by no means all.

As well as being first and foremost a fighting force, serving alongside Britain’s allies in conflicts around the world, the Royal Navy also protects Britain’s ports, fishing grounds and merchant ships and helps to tackle international smuggling, terrorism and piracy.

Further, the Royal Navy has increasingly been involved in humanitarian and relief missions, where their skills, discipline and resourcefulness make a real difference to people’s lives.

This article will provide an overview of the structure of the Royal Navy and organisational changes in terms of manpower. The article will then provide a general outline of the recruitment and selection process (i.e. how to join the Royal Navy) by looking at areas such as eligibility, fitness standards, minimum qualifications, and tests and interviews.

Finally, the article will look at funding streams and outline the future Royal Navy before providing some useful links.

Structure of the Royal Navy

The Royal Navy is made up of a number of ships and land establishments which are categorised into one of five groupings:

  1. Surface Fleet (SF): consists of amphibious ships, type 42 and 45 destroyers, type 23 frigates, mine counter measures vessels, P2000 patrol boats, ocean and coastal survey vessels, and an Antarctic patrol ship.
  2. Submarine Service (SS): Vanguard ballistic nuclear missile submarines, Trafalgar class fleet submarines, and Astute class fleet submarines.
  3. Fleet Air Arm (FAA): Sea King M7 airborne surveillance and control helicopters, Sea King M5 search and rescue helicopters, Sea King M4 assault helicopters, Merlin Mk1 maritime patrol helicopters, Lynx Mk7 battlefield helicopters, and Lynx Mk3 and Mk8 helicopters.
  4. Royal Marines (RM): for structure view Royal Marines Recruitment & Selection Overview.
  5. Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA): Fleet tankers, support tankers, fleet replenishment ships, landing ships dock, a casualty and aviation training ship, and a forward repair ship.

The Royal Navy and the Royal Marines combine to form the Royal Naval Service. The Royal Fleet Auxiliary is a civilian organisation based along military lines, and like the Royal Marines, is not discussed in this article.

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

Due to a number of structural changes (see below) and economic pressures the Royal Navy is increasingly utilising a Joint Force (or tri-Service) model of working with the British Army and Royal Air Force (RAF). Typically the tri-Service concept is the removal of duplication and the standardisation of procedures, but also enables the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to make efficiency savings.

Organisational Change

Since 1963 there have been nine important organisational change initiatives (always resulting in a reduction in total manpower) by both the MoD affecting the Royal Navy – resulting in greater integration (tri-Service model) – and cost savings between the three service branches) and initiatives by the Royal Navy resulting in both greater integration and significant structural change. These organisational change initiatives are outlined in Table 1 below:

Table 1: Defence Reviews since 1963




Manpower Change (Total/By Service Branch)

Healey Reviews




Mason Review




Nott Review




Options for Change



1. Overall down by 18% (56,000) t0 255,000.
2. Army down from 160,000 to 120,000.
3. RN down to 60,000.
4. RAF down to 75,000.

Front Line First: The Defenec Costs Study



1. Overall down by 5% to 242,250.
2. Army down by 2,200.
3. RN down by 1,900.
4. RAF down by 7,500.

Strategic Defence Review



1. Army uo by 3,300 overall.
2. RN down by 1,400.
3 RAF nuetral overall.

Strategic Defence Review New Chapter



1. In response to the 9/11 attack.
2. Some structural change otherwise manpower neutral overall.

Delivering Security in a Changing World



1. Army down by 1,000.
2. RN down by 1,500.
3. RAF down by 7,000.

Strategic Defence and Security Review


Conservative & Liberal Democrat Coalition

1. Army down by 7,000 to 82,000.
2. RN down by 5,000 to 30,000.
3. RAF down by 5,000 to 33,000.

Manpower Requirements

The MoD calculates the numbers that need to be enlisted to maintain the Royal Navy’s manning levels. The MoD takes account of changing unit establishments, wastage caused by servicemen and women leaving the Royal Navy at the end of their engagements, and those who might choose to leave before their engagements come to an end (PVR or Premature Voluntary Release). The number required in each trade in the Royal Navy is assessed and figures are published at six monthly intervals so that adjustments may be made during the year.

Traditionally, the Royal Navy has not met these recruiting targets but since January 2013 has been in surplus due to reductions in the manpower requirements. The shortfall in recruiting tends to be worse for the Army and for particular trades within the RAF and Royal Navy.

With this in mind, the full time trained strength of the Royal Navy was 30,610 at 01 November 2013, against the requirement for a full time trained strength of 30,440 personnel (DASA, 2013a).

By 2020 the Royal Navy will have a full time requirement of 29,000 personnel (DASA, 2013a).

The latest figures suggest that the Royal Navy requires approximately 2,000 new personnel each year (DASA, 2013a).

Key Points

Key points to note regarding Royal Navy manpower include (DASA, 2013b):

At 1 April 2013:

  • There were 33,960 (trained and untrained) Royal Navy personnel, of which 6,940 were Officers and 27,020 were Other Ranks.
  • The percentage of women in the Royal Navy was 9.1% in April 2013.
  • Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) personnel comprised 3.5% of the Royal Navy, continuing a long term gradual increase in the proportion of BME personnel.
  • 48% of Naval Service personnel were aged under 30, compared with 56% of Army and 40% of the RAF.
  • 0.1% of Royal Navy personnel were under the age of 18, and 22.8% were under the age of 25.

In the 12 months to 31 March 2013:

  • 44.4% of all Other Ranks intake occurred under the age of 20; compared with only 3.3% of all Officer intake.
  • 68.5% of all Officer intake comprised personnel aged between 20 and 24; compared with only 39.1% of Other Ranks intake.
  • The profile of outflow by age is to some extent determined by the nature of contracts under which personnel serve. In the 12 months to 31 March 2013, common exit ages for Officers were 40 and over. Nearly 60% of all Other Ranks outflow occurred between the ages of 20 and 34; however there is also a peak at age 40 which broadly corresponds with personnel completing a full 22-year career.

A General Outline of the Recruitment and Selection Process

Within the UK individuals tend to be attracted to individual service branches rather than the military per se. Each Service has their own identity, ethos, core values and standards and people tend to join the Army, Navy or Air Force. This is reflected in the way that each service branch conducts separate recruitment and marketing campaigns. Each has its own strap-line (e.g., the Royal Navy’s is “Life Without Limits”).

Selection is conducted separately for each of the Services, but the selection processes are similar in nature. All three Services have different selection procedures for Officers and Other Ranks. However, all include interviews, aptitude and ability testing and some personality measures. There is a filtering system that will select people at the initial application stage, while others will be invited to attend an assessment centre which can last up to three days. As well as technical ability, individuals will be assessed on their general qualities to be a member of the UK military. In addition, preliminary medical examinations will also be carried out including checks on weight, eyesight and hearing, and individuals will need to pass a physical fitness assessment.

Tables 2 and 3, below, provide an outline of the current Royal Navy recruitment and selection process.

Table 2: Outline of the Royal Navy’s Sailor Recruitment and Selection Process

Royal Navy (Sailor)

Step 1

Submit an Application

Once you have registered your interest and have satisfied the basic eligibility criteria, you will be sent an online application form.

Step 2

Naval Service Recruitment Test (NSRT)

You will be tested on general reasoning, verbal ability, numeracy and mechanical comprehension.

Step 3


You to a formal interview to assess your suitability for a career in the Royal Navy, and specifically the role that you have chosen. This is much like any other job interview, so you should prepare accordingly and ask your careers office for help if required.

Step 4

Medical and Eye Tests

These are quite comprehensive and must be completed by one of our Ministry of Defence-approved doctors.

Step 5

Pre-Joining Fitness Test

This involves completing a 2.4km run on a treadmill within a certain time, at a fitness centre near you.

Step 6

Further Interview(s)

Depending on the branch you have applied for, some roles will also require further interviews at this point. More information will be provided as you pass through the joining process.

Step 7

Pre-Royal Navy Course

This is your introduction to life in the Royal Navy and indicates your potential to begin Royal Navy Basic Training.

Step 8

Start Training

After a security and reference check, you will commence your Royal Navy Basic Training.


  1. Those candidates aspiring to be Royal Navy Divers will have to undertake the Potential Divers Assessment (PDA) as well as the above (see below for info on the PDA).

Table 3: Outline of the Royal Navy’s Officer Recruitment and Selection Process

Royal Navy (Officer)

Step 1

Submit an Application

Once you have registered your interest and have satisfied the basic eligibility criteria, you will be sent an online application form.

Step 2

Naval Service Recruitment Test (NSRT)

You will be tested on general reasoning, verbal ability, numeracy and mechanical comprehension.

Step 3

Informal Interview

You to a formal interview to assess your suitability for a career in the Royal Navy, and specifically the role that you have chosen. This is much like any other job interview, so you should prepare accordingly and ask your careers office for help if required.

Step 4

Medical and Eye Tests

These are quite comprehensive and must be completed by one of our Ministry of Defence-approved doctors.

Step 5

Pre-Joining Fitness Test

This involves completing a 2.4km run on a treadmill within a certain time, at a fitness centre near you.

Step 6

Formal Interview

The interview stage is designed to assess your suitability for a career in the Royal Navy, and specifically the role that you have chosen. This will also ensure you are ready for the Admiralty Interview Board. This is much like any other job interview, so you should prepare accordingly.

Step 7

Admiralty Interview Board

This is a one-and-a-half-day assessment, which takes place at HMS Sultan and is designed to test your suitability for a Royal Navy leadership role.

Step 8

Start Training

After a security and reference check, you will commence your Royal Navy Officer Training.

Recruit Attraction Methods

The Royal Navy utilises a number of marketing channels in order to engage with domestic and international populations and these include:

  • High street stalls;
  • Trade shows and other events;
  • School and university visits;
  • Commercial recruitment fairs;
  • Own websites;
  • Social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, WordPress);
  • Newspapers;
  • Television;
  • Billboards and posters;
  • Cadet and other youth organisations; and
  • Friends and family of current and ex-military personnel.

General Eligibility

There are a number of eligibility criteria that must be considered before making an application to join the Royal Navy and these vary across the trades due to the nature of the job/role an individual may wish to undertake. The general principles are outlined below:

  • Age: Every job/role in the Royal Navy has a minimum and maximum age limit. The minimum age can differ between jobs/roles and is specified within each job description.
  • Fitness Standards: all applicants are required to complete a pre-joining fitness test.
  • Minimum Qualifications: most Ratings roles do not require minimum qualifications. However, Officers are required to achieve a higher academic standard. With over 70 roles there is a lot to choose from.
  • Medical: there are various criteria including height, weight, eyesight, and checks medical conditions and any ongoing illnesses.
  • Nationality & Residency: Individuals are required to fulfil a number of nationality and residency criteria. Documents required include passport, birth certificate and educational qualifications.
  • Gender: generally all jobs are open to men and women.
  • Criminal Convictions: some kinds of offences and sentences can bar recruits from joining or rejoining.
  • Tattoos & Piercings: these are dependent on location and nature and will usually need to be declared and shown during a medical examination.

When Can an Individual Join?


Individuals must be a minimum of 16 years old on entry to initial training, although individuals can apply from 15 years and 9 months. Older individuals must be in initial training before their 39th birthday (previously 37th), which is role dependent (some roles have a lower age limit).

If an individual is under 18 years of age, they will need consent from their parent or guardian before they can progress their application at the Careers Office.

If an individual is currently under a care order then the British Army will have to seek permission of the local authority in order for an individual to join.


Each role has its own eligibility criteria. There are three intakes a year (January, May and September), and you must be within this age range at the time you join. If you are under the age of 18 when you apply, you will need the consent of a parent or guardian.

For most Royal Navy roles, you need to be aged 39 or under. The upper age limits for the Medical branch, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Royal Naval Reserve are higher.

Officers must be in the age range 17-29 (formerly 26) on entry to initial training at the Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC), although individuals can apply for sixth form and university sponsorship earlier. Higher age limits for professional and specialist applicants apply.

Fitness Standards

Get Fit To JoinPTI, Royal Navy

Due to the nature of military training and operations it is critical that individuals get in the best possible shape in order to help them excel during pre-joining fitness tests, initial training and throughout their military career.

The Royal Navy has put together training programmes designed to help individuals get their fitness levels to what they should be and increase their chance of success.

Pre-Joining Fitness Test

The Pre-Joining Fitness Test involves completing a 2.4km run on a treadmill at a fitness centre near the individual.

Further information on the physical tests are outlined below.

Minimum Qualifications


For a number of roles there are no minimum qualifications. However, some roles require a minimum of GCSEs, A-levels or a degree qualification.


Certain Officer roles require you to have specific vocational degrees, however the minimum academic standard for entry as a Royal Navy Officer is 5 GCSEs A-C (9-4) which must include English language and mathematics at grade B/6 or above, and 72 UCAS points gained from A Levels or accepted equivalents. These requirements are subject to the following constraints:

  • For A-levels this total must include at least two non-overlapping subject areas.
    • If you are not sure about overlapping subject areas, your careers office can provide you with more information.
  • Accepted qualifications and their UCAS points equivalent, can be seen here:
    • A Level: A* = 56, A = 48, B = 40, C = 32, D = 24.
    • AS Levels: A = 20.
    • Scottish Advanced Highers: A = 56, B = 48, C = 40, D = 32.
    • Scottish Highers = A = 33, B = 27, C = 21.
  • BTECs Certificates are only valid at level 3, with a merit grade pass or better. BTEC Diplomas also require a merit grade pass.
    • All BTECs and HNDs must be verified by the Admiralty Interview Board as accepted non-overlapping subjects of sufficient academic content.

Professional Qualified Officers

Professionally Qualified Officers undergo an additional competitive selection board as well as the Admiralty Interview Board.

Medical Assessment

Life in the Royal Navy can be mentally and physically challenging. This is the reason why some medical conditions and ongoing illnesses can stop an individual from joining. As such a full medical examination is part of the application process. It is worth checking the list on the Royal Navy website.

  • Height and Weight:
    • For all naval service jobs, individuals need to be at least 151.5cm tall.
    • The only exception is the Submarine Service where there is a minimum height requirement of 157cm.
    • Individuals must also be within the healthy range for Body Mass Index (BMI); not exceeding 28 or under 18.
    • Asthma within the last four years (not including a single chest infection)
    • A break or joint strain that caused you to seek medical help
    • Any medical condition that requires regular prescription medication or review by your GP.
  • Medical Standards:
    • These include everything from respiratory problems such as asthma to musculoskeletal conditions such as joint operations or recurrent back pain, heart and cardiovascular disorders (i.e. high blood pressure).
    • Skin disorders such as eczema or active acne may also be a barrier to service with the Royal Navy.
    • Asthma within the last four years (not including a single chest infection)
    • A break or joint strain that caused you to seek medical help
    • Any medical condition that requires regular prescription medication or review by your GP.
  • Eyesight:
    • The minimum standards for uncorrected and corrected vision vary for different jobs in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines and are determined by Royal Navy medical staff.
    • If an individual has impaired colour perception (colour blindness) this may restrict the branches that are available.

Nationality and Residency

Candidates must be categorised as one of the following:

  • A national of the United Kingdom or Ireland.
  • A British national living abroad.
  • A dual Commonwealth or British national who is not required to complete national service (written evidence is required).
  • A Commonwealth citizen:
    • Officers:
      • Who has lived in the UK continuously for the 5 years prior to applying, with no period of absence over 180 days (this does not apply to citizens of the Republic of Ireland, Malta and the Republic of Cyprus).
    • Ratings:
      • Who is applying from inside their own country must be 18.
      • If a resident of the UK you can apply at 16.
      • You must hold a current in date passport and it is the responsibility of individual applicants to ensure that they have permission to be in the UK and this permission is valid for the entirety of the recruitment process up to the point of entry (this does not apply to citizens of the Republic of Ireland, Malta and the Republic of Cyprus).

Tests and Interviews

The Royal Navy has a number of techniques designed to check the suitability of individuals for life in the military. These techniques are outlined below:

Naval Swimming Test

To join the Royal Navy you must be able to swim. The Naval Swimming Test is conducted in a swimming pool, where you will need to display your ability to operate in water. To pass the Naval Swimming Test you must:

  • Be able to jump into deep water wearing overalls and tread water for 2 minutes.
  • On completion, you must be able to swim 50 metres (2 lengths) in a further 4 minutes – again in overalls – without touching the side or bottom, before climbing out unaided from the deep-end.
  • In addition, you are expected to jump off a 3 metre diving board to simulate falling overboard.
  • This is a pass or fail assessment.
  • Non-swimmers will not be eligible to progress forward in to basic training.

Naval Service Recruitment Test

All potential recruits (both officers and other ranks) have to sit the Naval Service Recruitment Test (NSRT). The NSRT tests a candidate’s general intellectual ability, and how well you do shows your capacity to cope with the technical and academic aspects of Royal Marines training. Your score determines which jobs you can go for.

Your score is calculated solely on the number of correct answers you achieve, so if you get stuck move onto the next one and revisit if you have time.

Elements of the NSRT

Part 1


1. This is a test of your ability to process information, recognise relationships, and tell the difference between relevant and irrelevant information.
2. On the day of your test you will have 9 minutes to complete 30 questions.

Step 2

Verbal Ability

1. This is a test of your ability to understand the meaning of words and relationships between them.
2. On the day of your test you will have 9 minutes to complete 30 questions.

Step 3


1. This is designed to measure your ability to quickly make accurate calculations using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
2. Fractions, percentages and basic algebra are also included.
3. On the day of your test you will have 16 minutes to complete 30 questions.

Step 4

Mechanical Comprehension

1. This is to test your understanding of basic mechanical principles using both mechanical elements (e.g. gears and pulleys), and domestic objects (e.g. cars).
2. Each item has a written question supported by a technical drawing.
3. On the day of your test you will have 10 minutes to complete 30 questions.

The Interview

Successfully passing the NSRT means you can move on to the formal interview.

  • The interview is scheduled to last for about 45 minutes.
  • This is the Navy’s opportunity to meet you, so you can expect your interviewer, who will be a member of the Naval Careers Service or a Liaison Officer, to ask you about the information you put on your recruiting application form.
  • This includes talking about your education, family and work experience.
  • Crucially, you will also be asked about your understanding of the role the Naval Service plays and why you want to join.

The Medical and Eye Tests

The medical and eye exam are quite comprehensive, because life in the Royal Navy is physically demanding.

Your tests must be completed by one of the Ministry of Defence-approved doctors, who are based all around the country. Your local careers office will arrange an appointment for you at a convenient time and location.

The Fitness Test

Before you can join you will have to pass the Royal Navy’s Pre-Joining Fitness Test (PJFT), which involves completing a 2.4 km run on a treadmill within a certain time, at a fitness centre near you.

Depending on the branch you have applied for, some roles will also require further interviews at this point. More information will be provided as you pass through the joining process.

The Pre-Royal Navy Course

The PRNC is for sailors (ratings) only.

Once you have been given an entry date, you will need to attend a four-day assessment, the Pre-Royal Navy Course (PRNC). The PRNC is a comprehensive physical examination, including a number of running and swimming tests, which will confirm that you are ready for entry. This is also your chance to sample life in the Royal Navy.

The four-day induction course allows individuals to sample life in the Royal Navy and confirm that they are ready for entry. The course runs at Acquaint Centres in two locations: HMS Collingwood in Hampshire and MOD Caledonia in Rosyth. The course is designed to give individuals an introduction to life and work in the Royal Navy, including:

  • Initial training programme for Ratings at HMS Raleigh;
  • Ethos and values;
  • Kit, drill, discipline, teamwork and personal responsibilities;
  • The working environment of a surface warship or submarine;
  • Fitness standards and healthy living; and
  • Weapon handling.

Individuals will also have to successfully complete two fitness tests: A 2.4km run completed on a track within specific times and swim 50 metres in under four minutes wearing a swimming costume without touching the bottom or sides of the pool (entry and exit of the pool is unaided and without using steps). Individuals must pass these tests to confirm they are ready to enter the Royal Navy. At the same time it is also an opportunity for individuals to experience life in the Royal Navy and be sure they are ready for the challenges ahead. Once passed, individuals will be offered a place at HMS Raleigh.

Potential Divers Assessment

For those aspiring to a career as a Royal Navy Clearance Diver, you will need to succesfully pass the elements outlined in Table 2 as well as the Potential Divers Assessment (PDA), which is usually attended after the successful completion of the PJFT and PRNC.

The two-and-a-half-day PDA tests the stamina and strength required by the operational environment, so it is imperative that you are in peak physical condition. The PDA takes place at the Defence Diving School, the home of diver training, on the north shore of Portsmouth Harbour. The course is split into two:

  • The Diver Personal Fitness Test (DPFT); and
  • Further physical assessments.

Outline of the PDA

Day 1

1. Diver Personal Fitness Test (DPFT)

The DPFT (Day 1) ensures that all divers are physically capable of safely carrying out all of the operational diving duties expected of them.
2. It is a pass or fail course, where best efforts are required, not just reaching the minimum standard.
3. The test criteria and standards include (minimum standards):

Run = Warm-up run of 2.4 km in 15 minutes (as a group) then a further 2.4 km best effort (solo).
Heaves = Eight (8).
Dips = Sixteen (16).
Sit-ups = Forty (40) in sixty (60) seconds.
Farmers Carry = 30 metre walk with 60 kg (must be completed, and no time limit).

2. Water Circuit Training

This involves jumping from a 6 metre high board into water, finning across Horsea Lake and running back to the 6 metre board (approximately 300 metres). This is one circuit; normally three will be conducted at any one time. Candidates will be dressed in a dry suit and wear/carry their fins.

3. Lock Gate Surface Swim

This is a 1000 metre surface swim on Horsea Lake, which will be demonstrated by the staff first of all. Candidates will be dressed in a dry suit and wear fins.

Day 2

1. Presentation

A presentation about hte physical training requirements.

2. Water Curcuit Training

3. Try Dive

A trial with self-contained breathing apparatus dives to a maximum depth of five (5) metres, in an enclosed dive tank on Horsea Island Lake.

4. Initial Dives in Confined Water

You will learn the difference between diving in open water, compared to in the tank, and the effects of visibility, temperature and buoyancy.

Day 3

1. Water Curcuit Training

2. Team Building Event

A team-building challenge based on a 30-minute mud-flat crossing exercise.

3. Debrief

Candidate debrief and course wash-up.

Other PDA Activities

The following activities take place between the above events:

1. You will receive briefings on the RN Diving Branch, learning about the equipment used and what it is like to work as a Mine Clearance Diver.
2. Watch on DVD and receive instruction about diving theory and the effects of pressure on the body.
3. Learn about SABA (Swimmer Air Breathing Apparatus).
4. Listen to a brief on knots, lashings, lifeline markings, and signals used in diving.

The Admiralty Interview Board

The Admiralty Interview Board (AIB), which is unique to officers, is a 2-day competency-based assess ment to find out if you have what it takes, mentally and physically, to succeed as a Royal Navy Officer. Elements of the AIB include:

  • An essay, to assess written communication skills.
  • A Practical Leadership Task, to assess teamwork and leadership.
  • A planning exercise and presentation.
  • An interview.
  • Psychometric testing (verbal, non-verbal, numeracy).
  • A Fitness test (an outdoor 2.4km run that is timed).

Table 5: Outline of the AIB

Outline of the AIB
(For Illustration Only)

Day 1

1. A 20-minute verbal test designed to demonstrate general reasoning and ability with words.
2. A 13-minute non-verbal reasoning test, again measuring reasoning power, but this time without the emphasis on verbal skills.
3. A 25-minute numerical test covering numerical fluency, reasoning and statistics.
4. A 15-minute speed and accuracy test, measuring concentration and mental agility.
5. A 15-minute spatial orientation test, involving directions, relative positions and movement.
6. A short general service knowledge test to provide the Board with an indication of research into the Royal Navy
7. Individuals will also need to choose one of four topics and write an essay within 45 minutes (this is an assessment of written communication skills).
8. Finally, the multi-stage fitness test (commonly known as the ‘bleep test’) and although there is no pass or fail performance is graded.

Day 2

Practical leadership task:

1. Working within a team in the gym, individuals will have to solve a practical problem, put a plan into action and respond to difficulties as they come up.
2. The task is designed to test teamwork and leadership ability, verbal powers of communication, and resilience and strength of character.

Planning exercise:

1. Individuals will get a written brief containing the details of a fictional scenario, with 15 minutes to study the information.
2. A problem is then introduced into the scenario setting, and there are 15 minutes to discuss possible solutions with the group and reach an agreed plan.
3. The plan is then presented to the Board as a group.
4. The Board will question each person in the group to examine everyone’s grasp of the situation, before individually presenting your final solution to the problem.

Competency interview:

1. This involves a 30 minute interview about things the individual has done throughout their life.
2. To prepare for this individual’s should think about times when they have been a leader, organised something, been in a team and shown courage.

You will find out at the AIB whether you have been forwarded for selection, though being forwarded does not guarantee your entry into training. You will be placed in order of merit, and the final selection depends on the number of vacancies available at the time, the number of successful candidates who reach the required fitness, medical and educational standards and your performance on the POC.

Start Basic Training

Once you have passed all the stages, you will also need to pass a Security and Reference Check. After that you will be given details about your provisional place at HMS Raleigh (for ratings) or (if selected by the final selection board) the Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC, for officers) where you will complete your Basic Training.

Your local careers office will buy your train ticket to help you get there, provide some joining instructions, and tell you what kit you need.

After Basic Training, you will then begin the professional training that’s unique to your role.

Funding and Scholarships

Age 14-17

When an individual is weighing up the next steps after school, or sixth form choices, the Royal Navy offers several options that can help secure a fantastic career.

Sixth Form Scholarship Schemes

A sixth form scholarship gives the individual financial support while they study for A-levels or equivalent qualifications and secures a place for initial officer training at BRNC once they finish.

Individuals, currently, receive £1,500 a year while studying and get to experience life in the Royal Navy before starting training. Individuals need to be in Year 11 or 12 (4th or 5th Year at Scottish secondary schools) in order to apply.

On an Engineer officer scholarship, individuals are also guaranteed a place at a Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme (DTUS) university, or a university of their choice, with a bursary of £4,000 per year while studying for a degree, entering initial officer training upon graduation.

Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College

Aspiring engineers can fast track their careers by going attending Welbeck College, the Royal Navy’s Defence Sixth Form College near Loughborough. Applications can be made from the age of 14 for this college.

The college is residential and purpose built, and equipped with some of the best facilities and equipment in the country. Individuals will study alongside other aspiring engineers aiming for a technical career in the armed forces and the MOD civil service. After college, individuals go on to study their approved math, physics or engineering related degree at university with a, current, bursary of £4,000 per year paid by the Royal Navy.  After graduation individuals will take up their secured place at BRNC to train as an Engineer Officer.

Age 17 Onwards

On completion of A-levels or equivalent qualifications, the Royal Navy offers a fully funded in-service degree programme, which can be completed alongside initial officer training and being paid.

Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme (DTUS)

With the DTUS an individual can study an approved maths, physics or engineering based subject at university and then join the Royal Navy as an Engineer Officer, which typically sponsors 70 students per year. If successful the individual will receive £4,000 a year throughout their degree course.

Although remaining a civilian the Royal Navy requires individuals to complete at least 45 training days each year, including weekly training nights during term-time. There are also some military attachments and exercises during Easter and summer holidays. However, individuals receive additional pay of up to £1,500 for this training in addition to any bursary.  After graduation individuals will take up their secured place at BRNC to train as an Engineer Officer and will need to complete at least three years in the service once they have finished their professional training.

Military Aviation Academy

If individuals aspire to be Aircrew Officers and wish to join the Royal Navy straight from school or college they will be awarded a fully-funded Foundation Degree in Military Aviation Studies from the Open University on successful completion of flying training at the Military Aviation Academy. A full salary is paid while studying and no tuition fees to pay. After successful completion of the foundation degree there is the option to self study to achieve the further credits required for a fully-funded BA Hons or BSc Hons degree in Military Aviation Studies.

In-service Degree for Non-Engineer Officers

When joining the Royal Navy straight from school or college as a Warfare, Hydrographic and Meteorology, or Logistics Officer, individual will be awarded a mandated Foundation Degree in Maritime Studies or Maritime Science from Plymouth University on completion of their professional training (Phase 1 and 2). After successful completion of the foundation degree there is the option to enrol on the Route to Honours programme which will result in a fully funded BSc Hons in Defence Studies or Maritime Science.  A full salary is paid while studying and no tuition fees to pay.


If an individual is planning to go to university, then they can apply for one of two bursary schemes. Individuals will be known as a Bursar, during which time they will still be a civilian while studying. Part of the summer holidays training is spent training with Royal Navy.

  • Standard Bursary: This is open to those with one or more years left at university who want to join the Royal Navy as an officer in the Logistics, Warfare and Fleet Air Arm branches. The standard bursary is £1,500
  • Technical Bursary: If you want to join the Royal Navy as an Engineer Officer, you can take advantage of this bursary worth £4,000, providing you are studying for an accredited Maths, Physics or Engineering degree

Medical and Dental Cadetships

Medical students can apply for an undergraduate cadetship up to three years before qualifying and dental students in the last nine terms of their undergraduate dentistry training can apply for a dental cadetship.

Medical and dental students will have to pass both the Admiralty Interview Board and a competitive selection board. However, a successful application means a generous salary starting of £15,379 per year, a book allowance and tuition fees paid while still enjoying university life as a civilian.

Cadetships guarantee a place on initial naval and foundation training with the Royal Navy.

The Future Royal Navy

The document ‘The Royal Navy Today, Tomorrow and Towards 2025’ provides the strategic vision of the future Royal Navy. It is part of the MoD response to the strategic challenges that the Royal Navy is likely to face in the future.


The document is the Royal Navy’s response to the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), published by the Government in October 2010, which laid out the commitments expected of the UK Armed Forces.

The Three Core Roles

The document identifies three core roles for the Royal Navy:

  1. Warfighting: conduct, or be ready to conduct, warfighting at sea and from the sea.
  2. Maritime security: protect the free, safe and lawful use of the sea where it is vital to UK prosperity and security.
  3. International engagement: promote UK interests by developing international partnerships

Useful Links

Listed are some links which the reader may find useful:

  1. A very thorough document ‘Informed Choice? Armed Forces Recruitment Practice in the United Kingdom’ written by David Gee in 2007 and available from:
  2. Official MoD website:
  3. Official Royal Navy website:
  4. Official Royal Navy Facebook website:
  5. Official Royal Navy WordPress website:
  6. Official Royal Navy YouTube Channel:
  7. A document giving information about the Future Royal Navy ‘The Royal Navy Today, Tomorrow and Towards 2025 can be found at:
  8. A report by the MoD in July 2013 on the future of the Reserve Forces ‘Reserves in the Future Force 2020: Valuable and Valued’ available from:
  9. MoD (Ministry of Defence) Fact Sheet 6: Future Force 2020 – Royal Navy is available from the Government website at:

Useful Documents


DASA (Defence Analytical and Statistics Agency) (2013a) UK Armed Forces Monthly Personnel Report: 1 November 2013. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 04 January, 2014].

DASA (Defence Analytical and Statistics Agency) (2013b) Annual Personnel Report 2013. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 04 January, 2014].

Gee, D. (2007) Informed Choice? Armed Forces Recruitment Practice in the United Kingdom. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 04 January, 2014].

National Archives (2006) Army Recruitment. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 02 January, 2014].

Taylor, C. (2010) A Brief Guide to Previous British Defence Reviews. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 04 January, 2014].


35 thoughts on “Royal Navy Recruitment & Selection Overview

  1. Hi Andrew,

    I’m a British citizen, normally resident in the UK, but I will have been working in the Falkland Islands for two years by the time I am ready to apply for the RN. Would my situation cause any problems with my application?


    1. Hi Ben,

      For entry into the Naval Service, you must meet the following requirements:

      1. You must be a British, Commonwealth, British Protected Citizen or an Irish National OR hold Dual nationality with one of the fore-mentioned.
      2. You must normally have resided in the UK (Note 1) or Ireland for a period of five (5) years immediately prior to making an application. If you have not achieved this, do not worry as it will depend on where you have lived and the length of time out of the country. Your Careers Advisor will be able to advise you on the detail but it may affect the career or job you are applying for.

      Note 1: For recruitment purposes,the United Kingdom (UK) includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (mainland) and also the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man (self-governing British Crown dependencies). The Falkland Islands are an Overseas Territory of the UK and are not considered for recruitment purposes.

      As I understand it, and subject to you meeting other background and recruitment criteria, you would probably be given a waiver regarding the non-residency criteria – although the RN will give you the definitive answer.

      1. Andrew, thank you very much for the informative answer, I will be visit my nearest AFCO when I visit the UK in August do discuss my situation with them.

  2. Thanks Andrew.Sorry for the far too many questions but I just want to make informed decisions…..please talk about the rating pay
    Are there deductions that are made?.If so which ones ? And if possible state the amounts.


    1. Hi William,

      There are the normal legal deductions for income tax and NI, as well as organisational deductions for food and accommodation (F&A). There may also be periodic deductions for sundry items, e.g. tracksuit and t-shirts. During initial training you should be given a brief talking about F&A charges and any other deductions you might ‘encounter’. You have to sign for items before the RN is allowed to deduct the amount from you salary. Like any other employer, the RN can deduct up to three (3) days pay (each month) from your salary without your written consent (although they must inform you before the deduction occurs).

  3. Please clarify this statement I didn’t understand. Generally, the biggest issue for applicants is the time from formal job offer to commencement of initial training, which can be up to one year (though generally 2 weeks to a few months).

    1. Hi William,

      If successful in the R&S process the RN will present you with a formal job offer, which you are free to accept or decline. Once accepted, it may take several days/weeks/months before you start your initial training. Generally, candidates will not be given information about a report (to initial training) date until after the accepted job offer is returned to the RN. Initial training is Phase 1, the RN is also looking at the start dates of Phase 2 (employment) training so that candidates are not waiting too long between phases of training.

  4. Hi my names William am an overseas applicant from Kenya.I filled my online application to join as rating in logistics and supplies and got correspondence from overseas office .They asked me to gather some documents
    passport picture page
    Visa stamps
    Letter from police to confirm I have no outstanding conviction etc
    After I send these documents will be called for medical tests after medicals ,interviews and aptitude test how long will it take for MD to be absorbed because am already in full time employment and want to know what duration I will need to be away.Will appreciate your prompt response.



    1. Hi William,

      Your medical examination, recruit test and formal interview should occur at the same time (i.e. on the same day) at the recruitment centre. Time taken to review documents will depend on the number of applicants attending the recruitment centre and any complications with their application (e.g. medical issues). Generally, the biggest issue for applicants is the time from formal job offer to commencement of initial training, which can be up to one year (though generally 2 weeks to a few months).

      1. Thanks Andrew for response ,so most probably there won’t be need for me to stayand wait to be called up?
        Another questions concerning the physicals
        What is the maximum time for the ran
        And what other physical tests will I undergo

      2. Hi William,

        Physical tests, aka RNFT Test Elements, include: 2.4 km run (maximal test) and a strength test (a simulated AFFF drum carry of 2x20Kg to be carried 4x15m shuttle, with the weights to be placed down at the end of each shuttle). Time allowed is dependent on your age and gender.

  5. Hi I have applied to be a nurse and have been invited to HMS Sultan for an interview. Do you have any tips on the sort of questions that may come up? Thanks

    1. Hi Chloe,

      Questions you may be asked during the interview process include (but not limited to):

      1. Why you want to join the Royal Navy, and specifically the Nursing Branch?
      2. Your achievements so far (link them to your Branch choice, if appropriate/possible)?
      3. Your interests (again link, if appropriate/possible)?
      4. What do you know about/history of Royal Navy & Nursing Branch?
      5. Discuss existing qualifications (if you have them and linked to Branch choice).
      6. Why would you make a good nurse/Royal Navy member?
      7. Teamwork (think small teams, confined spaces (i.e. ships), away on tour a lot etc), and your experience(s) working in a team (as member/leader).

      I hope that helps, and good luck 🙂

  6. Hi. I have applied to the RFA to become a Logistics Officer and I have been invited down to HM Naval Base Portsmouth for an interview. I know there are many stages of an application including Suitability Interview, Recruit Test, Initital Careers Presentation a couple of others, but my letter doesn’t state what stage of my application I have been invited to attend. I am just looking for clarification on what stage I am about to participate in if this is my first invitation to attend the Naval Base.

    Thanks and Regards,


    1. Hi Nicole,

      Stage 1: Application.
      Stage 2: This is a formal (face-to-face) interview with RFA officers. Questions to consider include: Why do you want to join the RFA? Your aspirations? History/role of the RFA? About You? What have you got to offer?.
      Stage 3: If successful, then you will be invited to attend an Admiralty Interview Board, or AIB, which takes place at HMS Sultan. The AIB is were you will be assessed on your aptitude and suitability (including teamwork, leadership skills etc) for life in the RFA.
      Stage 4: Maritime and Coastguard Agency medical fitness certificate (also known as ENG1), as well as meet RFA medical standards.
      Stage 5: Formal job offer (subject to passing the above and any background checks).

      Hope this helps and good luck 🙂

  7. My son is in week 5 of navy training he has had a couple of warnings for damp tshirts both me and his dad are panicking that he may be asked to leave he absolutely loves it just wondering how many warnings you get before being asked to leave he is smashing everything else just needs to make sure his kit is dry

    1. Hi Jo,

      Short Answer: Officially there are typically three recorded stages to the warnings system.
      For a Longer Answer would need some context, for example:
      1. Have his warnings been informal; i.e. not recorded, just verbal by his instructor(s).
      2. Why are his t-shirts ‘damp’?
      3. Is your son the only one with damp t-shirts?

  8. Hi there
    My son is hoping to complete yr 12 here in Australia ready to qualify for logistics officer in UK.
    I’m a bit confused with what level his qualifications would convert to as I need to make sure they are adequate. Can you help? Over here they get an overall performance rating and I would expect Jacob to achieve somewhere from OP9 – OP12
    His subjects are
    Maths B
    Legal Studies
    Health and Physical Education
    Can you help?

    1. Hello (Again) Jackie,

      If you’re a Commonwealth citizen and want to join the Royal Navy as a Regular you must have resided in the UK continuously for the previous 5 years, with no single period of absence in excess of 180 days at the point of your application. This residency requirement does not apply to citizens of the Republic of Ireland, Malta and the Republic of Cyprus. If an individual does not meet the residency criteria, don’t worry. They might still have the chance to join the Royal Navy on a short term security clearance until they reach the standard period of residency.

      Talk to the Royal Navy direct: 0345 607 5555 (Monday to Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday 9am-6pm , Sunday 10am-4pm).

  9. Hi again
    I’m not sure what level CP4 is but my son just completed a basic Ishigara. test and only got one right, so it’s pretty severe. Would this exclude him ?
    Sorry about all the questions but we are overseas so can’t just pop in unfortunately.

    1. Hi again
      I’m not sure what level CP4 is but my son just completed a basic Ishigara. test and only got one right, so it’s pretty severe. Would this exclude him ?
      Sorry about all the questions but we are overseas so can’t just pop in unfortunately.

      1. Simple Answer: possibly!
        Technical Answer: (Based on the 2004 edition of BR 1750A Handbook of Naval Medical Standards):
        “Those failing the [Ishihara Book] test will require further assessment with lanterns [Holmes-Wright Lantern Test] or trade testing to determine if their colour vision is CP3, 4 or 5.”

        CP3: The correct recognition of coloured lights shown through the paired apertures on the Holmes Wright lantern at HIGH brightness at 6 metres distance in complete darkness.
        CP4: The correct recognition of colours used in relevant trade situations, and assessed by simple tests with coloured wires, resistors, stationary tabs, etc.
        CP5: Unable to pass any of the above tests.

        I had to complete the same tests myself back in 1991!

  10. Many thanks for your prompt response. Hie just scored 1/10 on line so u don’t think this is for him!
    Could he enter the navy as a logistics officer? Are there any other officer roles he would be eligible for with this colour blindness?
    (As an officer, preferably)

    1. Hi Jackie, most officer roles in the RN/RM require a Colour Perception (CP) standard of 4 (Engineering, Supply & Secretariat, and Medical/Dental). Exceptions: for the Aircrew and Warfare branches it is CP1; for the ATC and FDO branches it is CP3; for the RM pilot and bridge watchkeeper branches it is CP1.

  11. Hi there my son is looking to enlist in the navy, ideally as meteorological and oceanography officer. As he is colour blind, is he still eligible?
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Jackie, this role sits within the Warfare Branch. The colour perception (CP) for officers is CP1 and for Ratings is CP3 (BR 1750A, Issue 2004, p.5-9). It would depend on his CP level. The RN uses the Ishihara Book Test and the Holmes-Wright Lantern Test to determine CP.

  12. hi am Fiona am just want ro know if u can help me am looking for address to the care packages or to the royal marines or royal navy to the ones that don’t reiceve any mail and ones that don’t have any family, thank you ,

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