Royal Engineer Boat Operators

What are the requirements in the RE and actual opportunites available for working with the boats? I don't mean becoming an Amphibious Engineer and working on the M3 but the smaller boats down at Chatham. I've seen the RIB's and Combat Support Boats when I've been there and with a little experience in power boats I'm curious to know the chances of working in that area.

Is it a course you can go on once you have a few years under your belt and are at a certain rank? Would Boat Operator be your combat engineering skill/speciality alongside your trade? Is it a much sort after and difficult to get role?

And finally, is there RE craft down at Chivenor with 24cdo? I'd of thought that would be the most likely place for the Rigid Raiders, etc but after a little spying on google earth I can't even make out a jetty. If it turns out there is a boat detachment down there and I'm looking in the wrong place then I promise to pass on a future role in recce.

Thanks in advance for any replies.
There is a boat place just down the road from Chatham that's got the ridge rider and other boats there as went on an insight course for the royal engineers good fun
First things first all Royal Engineers do receive training on boats of some sort. On your Class 3 Combat Engineer course you are trained on a Mark 6 assualt boat. As a Class One Combat Engineer NCO you can be a safety boat operator.

I'm not sure how busy the boat school is going to be from now on to be honest. Boat ops normally worked out of the Falklands, Northern Ireland, Cyprus and more recently in Iraq. I'm not sure if 38 Engr Regt has boat capability but with the Falklands down to plant maint team, 62 (Cyprus Support) Sqn closing down and Iraq gone I don't know what is going to happen with this capability. 28 will still probably use the combat support boat.

Boat troop was quite a swan job which people wanted. I stand to be corrected but I think the standard course covered the rigid raider series of boats and there is a seperate CSB course.

As for 24 and 3 Cdo Bde the booties have their own landing craft section.
The army has loads of boats (well, 25ish) belonging to the RLC for if you only want to work on boats and not the rest of the combat engineering stuff. Only downside is that you have to join the RLC :(
It's not that much of an issue that I would change cap badge or service just to work on boats, I'm perfectly happy with my trade choice. I've also been on an insight course and went on both the Rigid Raiders and CSB's at Chatham, I just presumed there would be more boat units like that one dotted about the place.

I hoped it would be an extra skill to pick up or area to work in when in the combat engineering role. I didn't actually know the RE had any type of amphibious capability until the insight week. Somebody did mention you can gain all sorts of sail/powerboat/yacht licences in any part of the Army so I'll look more into that.

When did you go on the insight course I went last week and would recomend to anyone thinking of joining the engineers and the instructors are brilliant
There used to be a boat section at Antrim, don't know if it's still there or not. As for other yachtie things there's always the British Keil Yacht Club (BKYC) out in Germany or the Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre (JSASTC) place in Gosport.
yeah its a good but hard coarse to do. we use them along with the m3 ferry as safety boats. you have to be a lcpl min. to do he coarse. im pretty sure you get your competent boat operators cert which means you can pilot on the sea. its pretty long aswell. anyone can do it. hope this helped
snapper said:
There used to be a boat section at Antrim, don't know if it's still there or not. As for other yachtie things there's always the British Keil Yacht Club (BKYC) out in Germany or the Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre (JSASTC) place in Gosport.
Or the RE Yacht Club, who are very active in and around the South Coast. I'm sure they put in 2 entries to Fastnet last year.

Dont forget Army Sailing Association

snapper said:
Bovril said:
snapper said:
As for other yachtie things there's always the British Keil Yacht Club (BKYC) out in Germany .
Only way to get to work on the yachts in Kiel is as a full screw RLC ME or staffy REME shipwright.
Times have changed then :(
Not sure what it waslikebefore,but when I was there covering for the full screw that was away on course, there were only 6 permanant military bods there, with varying numbers of temp junior guys sourced from units in Germany. Occasionally a couple of junior shipwrights will go out and assist over a maintenance period.
If I remember correctly, back in the mists of time there was a trade of Boat Op. They used to be always down stream on any wet bridging site ie, LAFB, HAFB, Heavy Ferry and swimming 432's (plenty of work with the Mk 1's! :oops: ). I think the boats had the same RR engines as the ferries and ferret scout cars. We even used to get a loan of the Canuck Engrs (4 Sqn RCE) Ops for some exercises as well.
First time I've read this thread, I'm going back a few years now but the "Boat Op Specialist" Course used to be for Spr - CPL, I know as I completed the course back in 88 after 2 years in my Unit, the Squadron needed Boat Op Specs to run the CSB's at Mare Harbour and also one Boat Op for South Georgia to work in raiders under the command of a Royal Marine LC (Landing Craft, that's the title they gave their Specialist Boat guys, like the ML for their Mountain Leader).

Yes, as a Cbt Engr you are indeed skilled in basic boat handling/watermanship and as a B1 or Sect Comd you are classed as a Safety Boat Officer, but you wouldn't be qualified in an AWB or CSB, you either have to do a Raider Course or the full Boat Op Spec Course for those boats.

The Boat Op Spec Course was 8 weeks in length, the first couple of weeks is spent getting proficient on the AWB, which in those days was a Rigid Raider, the criteria for passing was fairly strict, as I remember you only had one or two fails at anything and you were RTU'd, the Man Over Board was an RTU if you failed the actual test in either the AWB or later the CSB. Like most courses in the Army you have an Exercise at various stages to make sure everything you have learnt comes together in a tactical role, you learn everthing from Fibre Glass repair, advanced knots, beach landings, towing barges, navigation in depth and the Tidal Rule of 12's.

The Knees Up To A Buoy in a CSB was one of the more daunting Tests in the Medway, you get the boat to hold water up against a massive Buoy then you get out (with no one at the controls) and step on the Buoy and Moor up, if you fail then the obvious happens :D and someone else can practice their Man Of Overboard at your expense...

As someone said above, it's not an easy Course but it is extremely rewarding to have the Qualification for decent tours abroad, the down side is you end up putting all your Squadrons future watermanship training packages together, although as a young Sapper out on a Pond Jump attached to 2RGJ taking the entire Battallion for Watermanship training proved a good laugh for everyone involved...

You come off the course with the qualifications to skipper a powered boat at sea as far as I remember.

If you get the opportunity I would jump at it, it is definitely one of the better courses in the Corps, my Troop thought they had 'dicked' the sprog to go on the course back then, oh how I laughed a year or so later at Bridging Camp in Weymouth as Safety Boat Op and then taking the Squadron out for a 'cabbie' in groups of 6...

Thanks for 'Dicking' me for that one :D


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Book Reviewer
If it pure boat work you are after then recommend the Royal Marines and specialise as a LC. Start off with IRC and RRC moving up to command a LCVP at Cpl and LCU at Sgt. Very good job and you will be much more attractive to women (and men) as a Royal.

Hope that helps
I did the basic boat operators course last year. First weekend up at Lancaster then second weekend at Rippon. I'm qualified to drive a MK6 assult boat plus an Avon Redcrest in inland waters and tidal water with a tide range of under 2m i think it was.
I alsao went sailing with JSATC at Christmas on Exercise Canary Gold. Came out of that with a Competant Crewman certificate. We only had to pay for the flights and we got two full weeks of ofshore sailing out of itl.
That's why you do your watermanship phase on your B1 at Weymouth; so you are qualified on tidal waters (up to a certain extent).


Book Reviewer
The RE boat operators made a colossal c*ck up in Cyprus, March 1992 which resulted in the death of an OCdt and injuries to others.

I'm sure that they undertake some stringent training but they could have done with a bit more common sense on the day.

No doubt this is outweighed in some people's minds by the numerous successes they have had but it won't bring him back.

RIP Alistair.

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