Qualified Seaman Grade 1 (RFA)

Service:Royal Fleet Auxiliary

The role at a glance

What you’ll do

As a Qualified Seaman Grade 1 in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA), you’ll be central to our Replenishment at Sea (RAS) operations. That means transferring fuel to the Royal Navy’s state-of-the-art warships, wherever they are in the world. It’s like no other merchant navy job. You’ll become the complete seaman as you tackle new and exciting challenges every day, from crewing your ship’s fast rescue craft, to being part of the flight deck team, to working with helicopters and their crew. You will also be carrying out bridge watchkeeping duties and upper deck maintenance tasks and driving cranes, or being part of the weapons teams. If you’re already qualified for life at sea, this is your opportunity to take your career to the next level.

If you have questions, talk to us

The role

  • Use your advanced seamanship skills to play a central role in the transfer of food and supplies to Royal Navy warships, all over the world. That means getting hands-on with our most complex deck equipment, whatever the weather.
  • Shape your role through personal development and training that’s paid for by us. You could crew your ship’s fast-rescue craft, or even be part of the flight deck team, working with helicopters and their crew. 
  • The role of the RFA is increasingly broad, as we support the Royal Navy in an operational capacity and provide a truly global presence. Whether you’re supporting counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean, or anti-piracy in the Indian Ocean, you’ll be given all the training you need to defend your ship with light weaponry if necessary.
  • Pass on your existing skills and knowledge to junior members of the Deck team, assisting in their development, while continuing your own.

What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • Top-up your Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) certification portfolio
  • Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology accredited qualifications

Skills you'll develop

  • Leadership, teamwork, command and management skills 
  • Additional Navy-specific seamanship skills


Career progression

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, the highest rank for ratings. If you show the right commitment, skills and academic ability, you may also have the chance to become an officer. To qualify for promotion, you have to be chosen at a promotion board. You’ll be selected on merit, so if you work hard and show potential, you can rise through the ranks.

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
  • An MCA Able Seafarer's Certificate 
  • Proof of recent sea sea service aboard a Merchant Navy vessel in the last 5 years in the Deck branch
  • 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
  • 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)
  • STCW recognised Navigational Watch Rating Certificate
  • Certificate of Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats (CPSC&RB) or a Certificate of Proficiency in Survival Craft (CPSC) or a Lifeboatman Certificate
  • Have confidence with jumping into water and the ability to wade whilst wearing a life jacket

Skills and interests

  • A real passion for life at sea
  • Strong teamwork skills
  • First-class communication
  • A sense of adventure
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
  • Sift – Your application will go forward for sift by a Subject Matter Expert (SME) who will check that you have the knowledge and potential to succeed in your chosen 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 – Once you’ve made it through the sifting process, you will be invited to attend an interview, where we will ascertain your suitability for life in the RFA. See how you can prepare here
  • Training – If successful, you will be offered a place at HMS Raleigh where you will receive your induction training

Initial training

During your time with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary you will be required to attend various training courses to enhance your current skills and develop new ones, many of these courses will take place in military establishments.