Leading Hand Chef (RFA)

Service:Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Food and drink

The role at a glance

What you’ll do

The Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) delivers vital Logistic and operational support to the Royal Navy, wherever they are in the world. As a Leading Hand (Chef) in the RFA, you’ll be part of the management team that provides healthy and nutritious meals for the Ships Company and embarked military personnel. You could be preparing fine dining cuisine for diplomatic receptions one day and pre-prepared meals for humanitarian/disaster relief victims the next.  Your hard work is what will keep them going and keep vital operations on track. Its not just about food preparation though – you’ll also be trained to take your place in  fire-fighting, damage control and first aid teams.

This is a perfect role for people with previous maritime or naval experience seeking new opportunities, personal development and a progressive career at the highest standard in the seafaring catering industry .

If you have questions, talk to us

The role

  • Consolidate 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 Leading Hand Chef, you will immediately put all the skills and experience you’ve gained, into practice. With experience and you could be promoted to Petty Officer. After that, you may go on to become a 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
  • Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Professional Cookery, or MNTB Certificate of Competency to sail as Ship’s Cook
  • 1st Aid at Work Certificate
  • Level 3 Certificate in Food Hygiene
  • You must be a British or Irish national, a Commonwealth citizen, or a Dual National

Skills and interests

  • Experience in budgetary management with an IT based system
  • Two years' experience in a catering managerial role
  • Drive and enthusiasm
  • Enjoy working as part of a team
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 registered your interest, 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