Chaplain Reserve

Service:Surface Fleet
Branch:Royal Naval Reserve
Chaplain Reserve

At a glance

What you’ll do

The Royal Navy offers a world of unparalleled opportunities for its reservists. And this means the type of spiritual guidance and support they need is equally unique. The friendship and advice you’ll need to offer as a Reserve Chaplain will be unlike anything you’ve done in your civilian career. You’ll work in a multi-faith environment, one that can include challenging situations, and the need to guide reservists as well as their families when they’re deployed. You’ll be there for whoever needs you to be. You’ll serve the people who serve the nation.

If you have questions, talk to us

Your role

  • Act as chaplain to a unique, and very varied congregation. The spiritual and emotional support you provide will be vital to the wellbeing of personnel of all ranks and roles.
  • Work in a multi-faith environment, providing advice and guidance that is very different to that needed in the civilian world. 
  • Develop a wide range of new skills through military training, including firefighting and first aid. You’ll need to apply these skills in operational environments, as well as on exercises.
  • Travel the world, giving crucial guidance to serving personnel and their families. The work you do when mobilised will be vital to protecting our nations interests. 

What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • The opportunity to attend Staff College
  • The opportunity to study for a PGCE or Masters degree.

Skills you'll develop

  • Communication skills working with Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel, who may have no church background
  • Gain experience working with young people
  • Learn Resource Planning
  • Develop your team management skills
  • Work in a multi-national environment

Career progression

As a naval Chaplain, you’re said to share the rank of the person you‘re talking to. So you’ll have the freedom to talk to anyone and everyone from Able Rate or Marine to Admiral or General, on an equal, informal and confidential basis. However, there is a structure for appointments, giving you opportunities to develop your skills and ministry.

What you'll need


  • You must be a minimum age of 25 and under the age of 60 when you start training
  • Be a clergy member of one of the following churches: Anglican, Roman Catholic, Church of Scotland, Congregational, Presbyterian, Baptist, United Reformed, Assemblies of God, Elim Pentecostal, Methodist or Churches in Communities International
  • A theological degree or recognised qualification from a Bible College
  • To be employed by a church at the point of application, with a view to having three years of experience behind you by the time you complete your Royal Naval Reserve training
  • A British/British Dual National who has lived in the UK continuously for the 5 years prior to applying
  • A minimum height of 145cm
  • Pass the Naval Swimming Test

Skills and interests

  • Understanding of the diverse rigours of Naval life 
  • Ability to work individually, without always having the structure and support of your church 
  • Physically and mentally fit for the challenge
  • Ability to work as part of an ecumenical branch, alongside female clergy
Check Eligibility

Starting your career

Joining process

  • Contact the Naval Chaplaincy Service (NCS) Recruiter

    Your first step is to make contact with our Naval Chaplaincy Service Recruiter who will be able to to start your application process. Please call 023 9262 5552 or email [email protected]

  • Apply Online

    You will be invited to visit your local AFCO to develop your application

  • Review

    Your application and seek approval from your Sending Church

  • Interview

    You will be invited to attend an interview with the Chaplain of the Fleet

  • Admiralty Interview Board (AIB)

    This is your final step and is a competency-based assessment that confirms that you’re physically and mentally ready to become an officer

  • Acquaint

    You will be invited to attend a 3-day fully-paid acquaint course in Portsmouth

  • Discuss

    You can discuss this with the Chaplaincy recruiter on [email protected] or phone on 023 9262 5552

Initial training

As a new-entry Chaplain, your initial training will include time at Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) Dartmouth. This will provide the military background and sea-awareness for your ministry.

After basic training, you’ll carry out further specific training at sea and on shore, to prepare you for your first appointment. 

If you are going to serve with the Royal Marines, you will carry out a further training held at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines, Lympstone. 

After you have completed your training will be invited to sit the NCS Board, which is headed up by the Deputy Chaplain of the Fleet and will test your knowledge and competence.

You will serve with your Royal Navy Reserve unit and prepare to deploy to sea in support of operational units.

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