Lieutenant Commander Jenna Kelway

Why did you choose engineering?

For a number of reasons really. Having always been interested in science throughout school, I didn’t really want to specialise in one particular area. When I was looking at careers at 15/16/17, I realised that Engineering (in my case Mechanical) brought together a number of science threads that had always interested me and it offered the chance to learn in more detail how and why machines and systems were designed and functioned in the way they did. Also being brutally honest, back in the early 2000’s (and what still remains the case) is that I knew that the engineering sector offers more secure and often better paid careers than other areas.

Why engineering in the Royal Navy?

In all honesty I didn’t look at any of the Armed Forces until I discovered the possibility of sponsorship through university. Once I then looked further into the RN, I discovered that whilst the sponsorship opportunities were an initial draw, the following career package was something that wasn’t offered by any other employer at the time; secure job, varied assignments, travel opportunities and leadership responsibilities from a very early stage.

What is it that you enjoy the most about your job in engineering?

My current role is very much a leadership and management one - I don’t get my hands dirty very much, not least because the team would get very nervous if I did! At sea, I feel an immense sense of satisfaction when standing on the flight deck, looking back at our wake knowing the team I lead are responsible for ensuring that a 4500 tonne warship can power through the sea at 28kts. Variety is key as well – I can guarantee every day will different, whether we are dealing with an emergent defect or I am discussing the upcoming programme and its associated challenges with the other Heads Of Department.

Why is engineering in the RN a great career choice?

The knowledge that every day everything we do as a department is key to the smooth running of the ship – after all if our kit doesn’t work we can’t go to sea! There is a distinct sense of pride that comes with this

– I know that the hardwork and often long hours put in by the team results in HMS Somerset being able to deliver tasking of national importance. This is not just the case in the Marine Engineering world but across the engineering branches

– each one is a key enabler allowing the RN to keep meeting is commitments around the world. What I think makes engineering in the RN unique is that whilst engineering may be our day job, we also have crucial roles within the whole ship Damage Control organisation. For example, a number of my team are part of the ship’s fire fighting team as well as engineers and will be the first to react to an emergency on board. For me, I am the Internal Battle Controller, overall in charge of the effort within the ship to deal with an emergency so that we can safely continue our tasking. Finally, my current role is the 4th assignment I’ve had in 11 years

– each one with different challenges and responsibilities – you can’t possibly get bored!

What would you like to achieve in engineering in the future? And where do you see engineering in the Royal Navy in the future?

I would very much like to use my engineering skills to work to develop sustainable technologies and green energy, something of a personal interest to me.

As for the RN, I think unmanned vehicles will play a big role in our future as well as a focus on increased remote monitoring and control of machinery as our platforms and technology in general grows in complexity.

Women in Engineering