Warfare Officer (Submariner)

Service:Submarine Service
Warfare Officer Submariner inspecting equipment on a Submarine

At a glance

What you’ll do

As a Warfare Officer (Submariner) it’s your job to provide the boat’s eyes and ears, deep below the surface. That means taking charge of sophisticated sonar, tactical and communications systems, using your advanced maritime training to keep your crew safe. Whether you’re using your first-class navigation skills to help maintain our nation’s nuclear deterrent on a Vanguard-class submarine, or passing crucial tactical information directly to your Captain on hunter-killer operations, you’ll be in a position of real responsibility from day one.

If you have questions, talk to us

Your role

  • From starting as an Officer of the Watch, to becoming the Principal Warfare Officer, you’ll marshal a team of dedicated sailors in a unique and challenging environment.
  • Use all the maritime skills you acquire during training, to keep the crew safe, which is your primary responsibility. That might mean negotiating a tricky underwater canyon, or even identifying and neutralising a potential threat.
  • Provide leadership and guidance to the Warfare Specialists who are busy listening to, and reporting on, what’s happening around the boat. They’ll be doing a vital job, and supplying all the information you need to do yours.
  • Stealth is a submarine’s primary weapon, and you’ll be key to ensuring the boat remains undetected, wherever you are in the world, and whatever the operation.

What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • We’ll make a significant contribution towards GCSEs, Masters degrees, and everything in between
  • Gain internationally recognised professional qualifications as your career progresses

Skills you'll develop

  • Gain the unique naval leadership and management skills that are highly valued by civilian employers
  • Develop an in-depth knowledge of life as a professional seaman, from navigating and manoeuvring, to more advanced war-fighting skills

Career progression

What you'll need


  • You’ll need to be aged 18 to 39
  • You’ll need a minimum of 72 UCAS points. These can be accrued from either GCE A/AS levels (or equivalent) or National Diplomas (e.g., BTEC)
  • You’ll need at least 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C (9-4) (or Scottish equivalent), which must include English and Mathematics
  • British National (or hold Dual Nationality iaw UKSV policy)
  • A minimum height of 157cm
  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18 and 28 (between 17 and 27 if under 18)
  • Pass the Naval Swimming Test

Skills and interests

  • An ability to thrive on responsibility and lead from the front
  • Confidence making key decisions 
  • Calmness under pressure and a love of teamwork
  • A real 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 registered your interest and have satisfied the basic eligibility criteria, you will be sent an online application form

  • Defence Aptitude Assessment (DAA)

    You’ll be tested on: Verbal Reasoning, Numerical Reasoning, Work Rate, Spatial Reasoning, Electrical Comprehension and Mechanical Comprehension.
    To prepare, you can practise the DAA

  • Interview

    A formal interview to talk through your suitability for the role

  • Medical and eye tests

    These are quite comprehensive and must be completed by one of our Ministry of Defence-approved doctors

  • Pre-Joining Fitness Test (PJFT)

    This involves completing a 2.4km run on a treadmill within a certain time, at a fitness centre near you

  • Interview

    You’ll have a short interview to assess your suitability for a career in the Royal Navy, and to ensure you’re ready for the Admiralty Interview Board (AIB)

  • 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

Initial training

You’ll spend 30 weeks training at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) in Dartmouth, focusing on: Military Skills, Maritime Skills and Initial Fleet Time. The military skills phase includes learning leadership and teamwork skills, and the principles of command and management. You will then complete professional training, including more time at sea, where you’ll work towards your Navigational Watch Certificate, which qualifies you as an Officer of the Watch.

Aim to get yourself as fit as you can before you arrive. You’ll be doing a lot of physical exercise, and you’ll find it much easier if you’re already in good shape.

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

Professional training

Your professional training will then be completed on the job, as you spend time at sea gaining experience and developing your skills. There you will focus on: 

  • Working towards a Navigational Watch Certificate
  • Consolidating everything you learn on the Initial Warfare Officers’ Course (IWOC)
  • Choosing a specialisation, or developing as a General Service Submarine Warfare Officer
  • Gaining the experience needed to progress to Principal Warfare Officer (SM)

After successfully completing your professional training, you will spend another four months at HMS Raleigh in the Submarine School. You’ll learn about submarine operations, including warfare, weapons, nuclear propulsion and escape training, and go to sea in a submarine. After this, there’ll be a test to check your knowledge. When you pass, you’ll earn your ‘Dolphins’ – the coveted badge of a qualified Submariner.