Weapon Engineer

After completing my master’s degree in mechanical engineering, I joined Britannia Royal Naval College in May 2012 and commissioned as an officer in the Royal Navy (RN) the following December. I chose the RN over other careers because I did not like the idea of spending the rest of my life stuck in an office, carrying out the same tasks each day. The RN has certainly helped me avoid this, with no one day being the same as the next and the roles being both suitably challenging and rewarding. During my short time in the RN I have really developed as a person, I have grown in confidence, developed as an engineer, learnt significant leadership skills and met people who I will stay friends with for life. It must be said that all the military clichés are true; you look after each other through thick and thin, you are professional and disciplined yet thrive on banter and the good times, and the uniform doesn’t look too bad either!

I left BRNC to undertake my Weapon Engineering (WE) professional training at HMS Collingwood. The training focuses on further devolving your system engineering skills, whilst teaching the fundamentals about radar, sonar and communication theories. It is an appropriate mix of classroom work and employment as a trainee on ships, and qualified me to receive a Graduateship in Engineering Management from City & Guilds and a Level 5 diploma in Leadership and Management from CMI.

Once WE Officers complete their professional training, usually they go to sea on a ship as the Deputy Weapon Engineering Officer (DWEO). The DWEO acts as the second in command of 40 strong department (for a Type 23 Frigate (T23)). However, my career took a slightly different route, whereby I was first given a yearlong draft working as the Information Systems Manager for a variety of RN training establishments. For this role I was required to assist with a number of project management roles and undertook the PRINCE2 Project Management course in order to do so.

After this job, I then joined HMS Northumberland as the DWEO for one year and then cross-decked to HMS Portland (both T23s) in order to take her on deployment to the Gulf. Not only was I the DWEO helping manage the department, but I also led the boarding team as the Boarding Officer. For this we were required to board and search vessels of interest, with the aim of combating the smuggling of drugs and arms across the Indian Ocean - a job I recommend to anyone who gets the opportunity.

Now that I have completed my time as a DWEO, I am working as the maritime engineer for a project team delivering the missile and radar systems to the T23 fleet. This again is a job where I can further develop my engineering skills and I hope to achieve CEng status by the end of this draft.

Before I joined, I knew that being away from friends and family would be a challenge, however by being away it has actually made my relationships stronger, as you really learn to value those times when you are with your loved ones. The career is not only professionally rewarding, but it also has its other perks. In my five short years in the RN, I have been skiing in Norway, scuba diving in Malta, surfing in South Africa, white water rafting in Bavaria, water luging in Abu Dhabi, horse riding in Chile and this is not an exhaustive list. What other career could offer these experiences as part of your day-to-day job?

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