Qualified Deck Officer (RFA)

Service:Royal Fleet Auxiliary
A Deck Officer at work

The role at a glance

What you’ll do

As a Qualified Deck Officer in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), you’ll be central to the Replenishment at Sea operations that provide vital support to the Royal Navy, all over the world. Delivering fuel, food, ammunition and supplies to our warships is no easy task, and you’ll make sure it happens safely and efficiently. You’ll also take responsibility for assisting Royal Marines as part of amphibious operations, and be part of your ship’s management team. It’s a role that is as challenging as it is rewarding, and from day one you’ll be on your way to a career that’s the ultimate in civilian seamanship.

If you have questions, talk to us

The role

  • The logistical support provided by the RFA couldn’t happen without your team’s advanced seamanship skills and specialist knowledge, especially when you’re on a Fast Fleet Tanker transferring fuel to a Type 45 destroyer.
  • Perform key duties when the ship is in port, including acting as Officer of the Watch and Officer of the Day. You might be the first point of contact for a visiting VIP, or taking delivery of vital equipment and supplies.
  • Use your first-class navigational skills to influence every operation, whether you’re trying to locate drug runners, or trawling the Indian Ocean for pirates.
  • Be part of the management team of the deck department and work towards becoming the Executive Officer of the ship, which involves mentoring and supporting your juniors, or ultimately, become the Commanding Officer.

What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • Further MCA qualifications fully supported by the RFA
  • Military Navigation and Warfare Training

Skills you'll develop

  • An in-depth knowledge of Navy specific Navigation and Warfare 
  • The ability to lead and manage a highly skilled team

Career progression

You will start your role as a Third Officer. Promotion is principally based on merit, so if you perform well you will get the chance to be considered for advancement through Second and First Officer. On reaching Chief Officer you’ll be the head of the Deck department on board ship and therefore potentially one step away from being a Captain. If you are appointed Commodore you’ll have achieved the highest officer rank in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. As your career progresses you will have the chance to apply for shore posts which provide a wide range of career development headquarters staff providing support to RFA ships. These would see you playing a key role in the management or development of the RFA.

What you'll need


  • Aged at least 17 years 6 months to apply, and 18 years to commence employment. There is no upper age limit
  • ENG1 medical certificate, unrestricted for worldwide sea service 
  • The Certificate of Competency you have will determine which level you enter the RFA. You must have one of the following: Officer of the Watch (unlimited) Certificate of Competency (COC); Chief Mate (unlimited); or Masters (unlimited)
  • STCW code - Table A, IV/2 Global Maritime Distress and Safety System Radio Operators Certificate
  • HND in Nautical Science or Foundation Degree in Marine Operations
  • Advanced Oil Tanker Training Endorsement (At Chief Mate level)
  • Recent sea time of at least 6 months in the last 3 years
  • Four elements of basic training, updated iaw Manila Convention 2010
  • Personal Survival Techniques (STCW Code-Table A-Vl/1-1)
  • Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting (STCW Code-Table A-Vl/1-2)
  • Elementary First Aid (STCW Code-Table A-Vl/1-3)
  • Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities (STCW Code-Table A-Vl/1-4)
  • Must be British, Irish or Commonwealth citizens. However, a number of career paths have nationality restrictions. Dual Nationality will be considered providing the first nationality is British. Note: Residency restrictions may apply
  • Need to have confidence with jumping into water and the ability to wade whilst wearing a life jacket

Skills and interests

  • An ability to thrive on responsibility and lead from the front
  • Confidence making key decisions in high-pressure situations
  • A problem solver, with a common sense approach, who can work well as part of a team
Check Eligibility

Starting your career

Joining process

  • Apply - Fill in an online application form

  • Eligibility – We will request copies of certification to ascertain your suitability for the role

  • Defence Aptitude Assessment (DAA) – You will be asked to attend an Armed Forces Careers Office close to your home where you will conduct the DAA

  • Interview – On successful completion of the test you will be invited to Portsmouth for a Suitability Interview that will confirm that you’re ready for the Admiralty Interview Board (AIB). See how you can prepare here

  • Admiralty Interview Board (AIB) – This stage is unique to officers and takes place in two parts. A Pre Recorded Interview (PRI) is an online assessment which assesses your motivation to join the Royal Navy as an officer and your awareness of the Royal Navy. The Group Planning Exercise (GPE) is the second stage of the AIB and is an online competency based assessment which will take place on a separate day to the PRI. It will be conducted in a virtual group environment and you will be assessed on your contribution to the team based on your individual performance

  • Training – If successful, you will be offered a place at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) Dartmouth where you will begin your initial training

Initial training

You’ll begin your career at BRNC in Dartmouth, developing your leadership, communication and teamwork skills. Your 10 weeks will provide an introduction to the Naval Service and you’ll get the chance to put your new skills into practice during exercises on the River Dart before participating in the passing out parade where your family and friends will have the opportunity to witness you completing the first element of your training.

All training is designed to build on your existing skills, and help you develop new ones, so you’re always working towards a higher level of MCA certification. That will mean completing distance learning courses, and several Royal Navy Warfare Officer courses, to give you the knowledge required to use specialist MOD equipment.

There's also a swimming test, so if you can't swim, make sure you learn by the time you join us.