Ships and naval bases celebrate women engineers for international day

Royal Navy ships and bases have come together to highlight the work of female engineers on International Women in Engineering Day.

The navy employs hundreds of female engineers across maritime and aviation industries and for the past six years the international event has been raising awareness and marking the achievements of women all over the world.

This year’s theme for International Women in Engineering Day, organised by the Women’s Engineering Society, is Shape the World – something the Royal Navy is committed to with its global operations and deployments.

While some female engineers are working at sea on aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ship RFA Argus, others are undergoing training at naval base HMS Sultan, in Gosport.

Among the personnel from Sultan showing their support is one of the navy’s most recent recruits to join the engineering accelerated apprenticeship scheme, Probationary Leading Air Engineering Technician Molly Ellis.

She said: “I was attracted to the role because of the great team atmosphere, mutual respect and discipline in the Royal Navy and the chance to work on some pretty cool kit and also see the world.

“Growing up I never saw being female as a boundary towards doing anything I dreamed of. I’m looking forward to developing new skills throughout my career so I can lead teams to solve problems and fix faults head on. Let’s let girls everywhere know that their potential is limitless.”

Engineering Technician (Marine Engineering) Taranaivini Tuivaga, who has been in the Royal Navy for seven years, has served on HMS Dauntless and was part of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s crew when the ship arrived for the first time in Portsmouth.

Taranaivini has also represented the Royal Navy at rugby and is currently training to gain promotion to the rank of Leading Engineering Technician. She said: “So far I’ve really enjoyed being part of the Royal Navy. Coming from Fiji makes me extra proud to show my support for International Women in Engineering Day. Engineering should be seen as something for everyone.”


Being a women in engineering is quite similar to being a man in engineering: we do the same jobs, we have the same types of responsibilities

Sub Lieutenant Toni Harding

On board HMS Queen Elizabeth, Leading Engineering Technician Megan Esser is responsible for maintaining, and occasionally repairing, the carrier’s diesel engines as well as keeping the small boats in working order.

She said: “I really enjoy the practical side of my job. Fixing and making things is really rewarding. I’d say to anyone considering a career in engineering that they should just jump in and do it. You’ll amaze yourself with what you can do.”

Hannah Quigley, a Petty Officer Aircraft Engineering Technician, leads a team of 14 engineers who maintain and operate Queen Elizabeth’s air weapons handling system.

She added: “Air engineering has a long and proud history of women engineers dating back to the Second World War. Here on Queen Elizabeth we have been part of writing a new chapter in the UK’s military history.”

Meanwhile, air engineering technicians are busy on RFA Argus, who is currently on deployment in the Caribbean.

Sub Lieutenant Toni Harding is assistant air engineering officer of 845 Naval Air Squadron, working with a team maintaining commando-carrying Merlin Mk4 helicopters.

She said: “Being a women in engineering is quite similar to being a man in engineering: we do the same jobs, we have the same types of responsibilities. And we make so many friends that most of the time, we forget that we’re in a minority.”

For girls and young women considering a career in engineering – in the Navy, or in the civilian world – the junior officer says “basically, just go for it: if anyone says you cannot do it, strive hard and you will make it happen.”

Air Engineering Technician Kerri Slade spent seven years as an electrician before deciding to further her career and expand her horizons by joining the Navy.

“Every day in the Royal Navy is different. The job does have its challenges, but there is nothing we cannot do,” she says.