Assistant Chef (RFA)

Service:Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Food and drink

The role at a glance

What you’ll do

As Assistant Chef in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), you’ll be part of the team that provides healthy and nutritious meals for the ship’s company. Your hard work is what keeps them going, and vital operations on track.

The RFA is responsible for making sure the Royal Navy has everything it needs to continue protecting our nation’s interests all over the world. So, as you develop your cookery skills, you’ll make an increasingly important contribution to a truly global effort, whether you’re getting breakfast out on time, or catering for a unit of Royal Marines about to deploy.

If you have questions, talk to us

The role

  • Continue your professional cookery career by enhancing your use of a variety of ingredients and styles. You’ll work under the guidance of an experienced Head Chef, creating varied menus for the entire crew.
  • Outside of the galley, you’ll have crucial duties to perform as part of the ship’s company, including firefighting, first aid, and being a member of the damage control team.
  • Unlike most civilian chef roles, you’ll have real responsibility from the day you start, working in challenging environments all over the world. The ship’s galley is hot and hectic, so you’ll need to have a calm temperament at all times.
  • It’s your job to make the ship feel like a home from home for your crewmates. Many of them will be at sea for months at a time and will look forward to the food you cook, whether it’s Friday Fish, or dinner for a social event.

What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • Top-up your Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) certification portfolio
  • The ability to conduct a range of catering activities across the full spectrum of the Galley

Skills you'll develop

  • A more in-depth knowledge of high-volume, high-pressure cooking
  • The ability to manage stores and ingredients, while creating interesting menus for a ship’s company

Career progression

At sea as a Chef, you will immediately put all the skills and experience you’ve gained, into practice. With some experience and further training you could be promoted to Leading Hand. After that, you may go on to become a Petty Officer and then Chief Petty Officer. To qualify for promotion, your skills and qualifications will be assessed on a merit basis, so if you work hard and show potential, you can quickly rise through the ranks. If you demonstrate the right competences, commitment, skills and academic ability, you may also be offered the opportunity to apply to train as an Officer via the RFA’s Officer Training Scheme.

What you'll need


  • You’ll need to be aged 16, there's no upper age limit
  • A current ENG1 medical certificate, unrestricted for worldwide sea service
  • Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Professional Cookery, or MNTB Certificate of Competency to sail as Ship’s Cook
  • STCW95 Basic Safety Training
  • STCW10 Update Training in Fire Fighting and Fire Prevention
  • STCW10 Update Training in Personal Survival Techniques
  • Proof of recent sea experience aboard a Merchant Navy vessel, with at least 6 months of the last 36 months in the Galley
  • You must be a British or Irish national, a Commonwealth citizen, or a dual national

Skills and interests

  • A passion for cooking
  • Drive and enthusiasm
  • Great at working as part of a team
  • A sense of adventure
Check Eligibility

Starting your career

Joining process

Once you’ve confirmed your eligibility, the joining process is as follows:

  • Submit an application

    Once you’ve requested your application and provided us with some basic information, you’ll receive a link to the online application form

  • Confirm eligibility

    You will be asked to send us copies of your certification

  • Recruitment test

    If you’re eligible you’ll be invited to take a recruitment test, which includes a range of multiple choice questions. Pass and you’ll sit an interview.

  • Interview

    If you are successful at interview, you will be offered a contract