Sarah


Age: 35


Current Position: Deck Cadet


Company: Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA)


I’d never wanted a 9-to-5 job. I sought adventure, responsibility and the chance to ‘make a difference’. So after being medically released from the Army, I spent 10 years trying out one job after another. And found that nothing seemed to fit me very well.

Then, while running an Army Fieldcraft training weekend for an Air Cadet Unit, I got chatting to a Deck Cadet from the RFA. Until that point I’d never heard of it, but after doing some more research I realised the Merchant Navy – and particularly the RFA – could be the exact career I was looking for.

I decided to take the Deck route, and am currently studying for a Foundation Degree in Nautical Sciences. Having been to university before, the chance to study for a paid-for degree was really valuable to me – and something I looked for while applying.

I spent my last sea phase aboard a small fleet tanker, which supports naval warships by replenishing essential supplies. I love the camaraderie, teamwork and sense of belonging that comes with a job at sea. But it can take a while to get used to not having any control over the food you eat.

I’ve already had plenty of memorable experiences throughout my cadetship. The best was having the ship’s wheel in hand as we crossed the equator. I know it sounds clichéd, but being paid to learn and travel the world is truly rewarding.


My only regret about joining the RFA is that I didn’t do it earlier. My experiences as a mature cadet have been great, and I would encourage anyone to consider a career at sea – regardless of their age.