Navy Shortage Keeps RFAs in Port

When my friend found out he couldn't join the Navy due to asthma I pointed him in the direction of the RFA, and he went ahead and joined as an officer cadet in systems engineering.

He did 7 weeks at Dartmouth on a pretty buckshee commissioning course then went to college for a bit, hopped on a ship and got to see the Bahrain GP for fun then sailed around Africa a bit. He absolutely loves it.

Sound pretty decent, to be fair! They don't advertise themselves very well, I stumbled across them on the Navy website.
 
There won't be many crew on the one in Birkenhead will there? It'll have been sat in Laird's for maintenance, do the crews stay on the ship when it's in a shipyard? It's been there for a while too I think.

There's worse places to be stuck than Birkenhead - you're literally sat at the mouth of the tunnel, a ten minute drive from the clubs and shops in Liverpool and Green Lane station's only a five minute walk away.
 
Here it is,Fort Victoria,taken a few weeks ago,being moved from one basin to another.

p1100783-jpg.172003
 
Here it is,Fort Victoria,taken a few weeks ago,being moved from one basin to another.

p1100783-jpg.172003
Ahhh my home for 6 months last year.

Im joining the RFA as a graduate engineer. Pay Is 16 grand which hardly going to attract many id have thought.

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Ahhh my home for 6 months last year.

Im joining the RFA as a graduate engineer. Pay Is 16 grand which hardly going to attract many id have thought.

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That's 16K tax free though, is it not? assuming RFA have same/similar status as commercial mariners.
 
There won't be many crew on the one in Birkenhead will there? It'll have been sat in Laird's for maintenance, do the crews stay on the ship when it's in a shipyard? It's been there for a while too I think.

There's worse places to be stuck than Birkenhead - you're literally sat at the mouth of the tunnel, a ten minute drive from the clubs and shops in Liverpool and Green Lane station's only a five minute walk away.

Rosie has just come out of a long refit and is supposed to have worked up and be operational by now. Instead she's done her CSTs and is now laid up.

It's very definitely crew shortages - specifically engineers. What is happening mirrors that in the RN where the engineering branches have spent years being gapped and are now saying enough is enough and voting with feet.

Vicky on the other hand has just come off an eighteen-month deployment in the Gulf and is due a thorough refit.
 
That's 16K tax free though, is it not? assuming RFA have same/similar status as commercial mariners.
If im away from uk waters for more than 6 months. If im sent to the FOST tanker or one in refit im buggered lol

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Rosie has just come out of a long refit and is supposed to have worked up and be operational by now. Instead she's done her CSTs and is now laid up.

It's very definitely crew shortages - specifically engineers. What is happening mirrors that in the RN where the engineering branches have spent years being gapped and are now saying enough is enough and voting with feet.

Vicky on the other hand has just come off an eighteen-month deployment in the Gulf and is due a thorough refit.
Wasnt helped that progression for the RFA engineering branch is very much dead mans shoes so shed loads of younger guys left. Now all the old guys are retiring aswell!

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NSP

LE
If im away from uk waters for more than 6 months. If im sent to the FOST tanker or one in refit im buggered lol

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It's a bit more complicated than just collecting 186 days away. You can't be "in" - i.e. within the UK twelve mile limit - for longer than you were last "out" and you must collect at least one foreign portcall (one advantage of Scottish independence will be I collect one every time I steam into Aberdeen or Peterhead), that being arrive before midnight, leave after. and it doesn't count as a foreign portcall if it's the occasion you join the ship. You have to arrive on the ship. And it's not granted to all vessels, either. Mine are all dynamically-positioned and they tried to lump them in with fixed installations when on DP. The union fought it and won - sort of. If you're on DP and static, or within a platform 500m zone it doesn't count. If you can show a significantly different midnight position from one day to the next you can get away it - which is fine when expecting an export pipeline but with infield stuff you can motor out along one line and get to the other end, come back on the next one and be almost exactly where you were at midnight as you were 24hrs earlier - even though you've effectively been underway all day. Of course, this last bit won't affect an RFA but I'm in oil and gas/hydrography and get caught by it.

The companies in trying to keep costs down and keep us out of the pub have largely moved away from the overnight portcall, except when you come in to de-mob/mob up some kit and it takes a couple of days to cut everything off/weld everything down. So, when we enter the foreign territorial limit at 0600 on the way in for a crew change and are back out of it on the way back to site by 2200 it doesn't count. It knackers your claim if you go "out" on a three midnight job and then come back "in" to lay alongside and spend four midnights mob'ing up some fancy bit of kit before going "out" again, as far as I know. I'll have to check that one with my accountant as it's been a while since it affected me. My claim's knackered anyway, thanks to all the uncertainty Salmond's spread about the industry this year. It's been a bit quiet and I've used up all my in-hand days and then some...
 

S0I

LE
Wasnt helped that progression for the RFA engineering branch is very much dead mans shoes so shed loads of younger guys left. Now all the old guys are retiring aswell!

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Yup, an aweful lot of 'professional' Thirds now reaching pension age.


Is it crew shortages, or lack of funding to keep them at sea?

Manning > Bright eyed Cadet > 4th > 3rd > career death
Back in the old days, there was a steady drift in and out to/from the 'Blue Chip' UK flagged Merchant Navy outfits so a steady upward promotion stream. RFA are really about the last 'British' merchant career option with everyone else flagged out. Things like the loss of BP as the RFA's effective reserve manning pool after the Gov flogged them off and they flagged out in the late 80's.
 
Last edited:

HarryBosch

War Hero
From what I understand we need more qualified engineers but we cannot train or recruit enough of them. Those that acquire a qualification between Level 1 (?) to B.Eng are paid peanuts. Is that about right?

What/where (as in field/discipline) are the engineering shortages, civvie and mil? Gen question. I'm guessing, all?
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
There won't be many crew on the one in Birkenhead will there? It'll have been sat in Laird's for maintenance, do the crews stay on the ship when it's in a shipyard? It's been there for a while too I think.

There's worse places to be stuck than Birkenhead - you're literally sat at the mouth of the tunnel, a ten minute drive from the clubs and shops in Liverpool and Green Lane station's only a five minute walk away.

I did a refit on Fort George at Birkenhead.

I enjoyed it. As you say only a short hop to Liverpool, tons to do and the birds were all ******* easy.

But why are all Scouse women orange?
 

S0I

LE
From what I understand we need more qualified engineers but we cannot train or recruit enough of them. Those that acquire a qualification between Level 1 (?) to B.Eng are paid peanuts. Is that about right?

What/where (as in field/discipline) are the engineering shortages, civvie and mil? Gen question. I'm guessing, all?


Want to piss off a PO Tiff? Have him subservient to a freshly minted Lt who doesn't know one of a spanner from the other. The RN's engineering model is not fit for purpose and is unattractive to many potential engineer recruits.
Long time back but I went through the comparable hoops, RN, MN. RN offered me a start as baby Stoker, BP took me on as Officer Cadet who when subsequently pissing about on RN/RFA ships was accorded the equivalent privileges of RN Officer rank.
Same job, same skills, vastly better pay/conditions and different attitudes.
As someone noted above, the RN having highly skilled technical people doing things like cleaning shitters is not exactly the best use of their time and skills. Another example, cross decked RN on RFA, what pedantic RN genius required the berthing arrangements on the new RFA's to be downgraded for them? Rub their nose in their 'inferior' status?
 

Yokel

LE
Well it's not as if Engineering personnel are important, is it?
 

S0I

LE
Well it's not as if Engineering personnel are important, is it?

Its as if the RN is still stuck with the same mindset it had when ships first got engines and Engineers, they were not 'proper' and were set apart from 'proper' Naval Gentlemen. As you say, its not as if Engineers are just a bit important on modern ships...
 

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