Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the Naval Service?

The NS is a component of the Irish defence Forces of which the President of Ireland is the Commander and Chief. The NS is commanded by FOCNS who is based in Naval HQ at the Naval Base, Haulbowline in Cork Harbour. The Naval Service has over 1,100 personnel of all ranks. We currently operate eight modern ships, L.E. Eithne, L.E. Niamh, L.E. Róisín, L.E. Aisling L.E. Aoife, L.E. Emer, L.E. Ciara and L.E. Orla. The prefix L.E. stands for Long Eireannach. The NS is the principal sea going agency of the state and is charged with Maritme Defence, Fishery protection, Contraband Interdiction Duties, SAR and enforcing Irish and EU laws/ legislation with the Irish Economic Zone. This zones currently extends to 132,000 square miles. This area is approximately 5 times the size of Ireland, and amounts to approximately 16% of all EU waters.

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Is a Naval Career Exciting?

Yes.  Life in the Naval Service can never be described as dull.  You will be performing a valuable job in an organisation that will maximise your development and potential.  We will train you in every aspect of Military and Naval life to prepare you to carry out the duties required of you, with the best equipment available in the market place.  There is plenty of variety and opportunities available in the Naval Service.  Foreign Deployments on Naval Ships and foreign Service with United Nations Missions may form part of your Naval Career.  No two days will ever be the same.

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Will I need to be very fit to join the Naval Service?

No.  You are not expected to be very fit when you join.  A fitness assessment will be carried out as part of the selection process along with an Interview and Medical Examination.  People with low fitness levels will be given every opportunity to reach higher levels of fitness with the assistance of qualified Physical Fitness Instructors (PTI's).  Applicants are expected however to be able to complete a run of 1.5 miles (13 minutes in the case of Female Applicants), and (11.5 minutes in the case of Male Applicants).  You will also be given 1 minute to complete 20 push-ups and 1 minute to complete 20 sit-ups.

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Will I need to be able to Swim in order to join the Naval Service?

No.  You are not required to be able to swim in order to join the Naval Service.  We will put you through a Basic Swimming Course, and a Sea Survival Course in order to improve your confidence in the water and in using the various survival equipment in use in the Naval Service.

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How can I join the Naval Service?

There are a number of was of joining the Naval Service.  The first method is through General Enlistment as a Recruit.  The second method is through enlisting as an Officer Cadet.  The third method is through various Direct Entry Schemes which run from time to time.

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What is General Enlistment?

General Service Enlistment is joining the Naval Service, initially as a Recruit, for a period of 5 years.  After this initial period, your engagement may be extended subject to certain criteria, e.g. Conduct, Fitness, completion of certain Courses, etc.

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What qualifications do I need to apply?

The qualifications required can change from time to time, but you will be advised on application what the current requirements are.

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How do I apply for General Enlistment?

You can phone 1890-262828 or email and get an application posted out to you.  General Enlistment is ongoing throughout the year and a Leaving Certificate is not a requirement.  It is however strongly advised, for your own personal benefit, that you complete your education before you consider enlisting.  This is particularly so as it may impinge on your eligibility for further specialised training within the Naval Service.  For further information on careers in the Defence Forces log on to

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What does Recruit Training involve?

The Naval Service Recruit undergoes 19 weeks intensive full-time training, during which time he/she is in receipt of a weekly wage, free accommodation and meals.  It is from this springboard that each Naval Rating launches their career.  The steep learning curve involved for the “raw” recruit allows them to show their strengths and qualities, which form the basis for selection for the various Branches of the Service. You will train as part of a Naval Class of Recruits at the Naval College.  Recruit training involves an initial period of 19 weeks of full time training which will prepare you for life in the Naval Service.  You will receive training in Arms Drill, Foot Drill, Marksmanship, Fire Fighting, Damage Control, Weapons Training and Tactical Training.  There will be an emphasis on improving your levels of physical fitness in a measured fashion.  Recruit training is designed to encourage a spirit  of ‘Esprit de Corps’, Comradeship and professionalism that will stand to you throughout your Naval Career but will also be of enormous benefit to you in general.  On successful completion of this period of training you will ‘Pass Out’ as a Naval rating at a Ceremony in Haulbowline and commence more specialised training in the Branch of the Naval Service operational or technical, for which you have been selected.  In time you may be selected for promotion, dependent upon your Performance Appraisal Reports and Service.  Further specialised training within your Branch or Trainee Technician Schemes, which are run in conjunction with FAS to qualify Naval Personnel with recognised Trades, are available to you.

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What is Branch Training?

On successful completion of Recruit training you will be selected, according to your abilities and your preference for one of the four Branches, i.e. Operations or Technical.  There you will receive more specialised training, of varying lengths, before commencing service onboard ship.  You need not overly worry at this stage about which Branch you have chosen as opportunities for inter Branch transfers will arise.


Operations/Seaman’s Sub Branch

The Seaman Rating specialises either as a Seaman/Gunner or Seaman/Radar Plotter before being posted to a ship.  At sea, the Seaman works on deck with the Bosun and will drive the ships Rigid Inflatable Boats and Boarding Operations.  He/she will become expert in operating all deck machinery involved in launching and recovering ships boats, machinery used for bringing the ship alongside a berth and going to and from anchor.  On the Bridge of the ship, the Seaman will steer the ship according to courses given by the Officer of the Watch, and Seamen/Radar Plotters will assist the Officer of the Watch in calculating tides, correcting Navigation Charts, operating the Radar and other associated tasks.  The Seaman Gunner will from time to time work with the Ships Leading Gunner and will be expected to become expert in all of the ships weapons.  The Seaman whether Gunner or Radar Plotter is highly trained for all tasks expected of them.  When they go to sea for the first time they will probably find their environment completely different to what they are used to.  This is to be expected, as the seagoing lifestyle is both unique and rewarding.  There is a great spirit of camaraderie aboard Naval Service Ships and the more junior members of a ships company can expect every assistance from their colleagues.

Technical Branch (Mechanicians Sub Branch)

A Rating of this Sub Branch is called a Mechanician.  Their era of expertise lies in the engineering spaces of the ship and also in the areas of Firefighting and Damage Control.  As a Mech you have undergone basic Branch Training in the Technical Training Bay of the Naval College.  When you are posted to a ship for the first time you will be working with the Petty Officer Mech, and will be responsible for ensuring that all the equipment in the engine Room is running efficiently, taking regular readings on vital equipment such as Main Engines, Generators, pumps and purifiers.  If working with machinery is your thing, then this might be the career option for you.  The Mech is also responsible for fuelling the ship, taking on water in port, the updating and maintenance of the computerised accountancy system used aboard ship and ensuring that sufficient spare parts are sourced and embarked prior to proceeding on patrol.

Operations Logistics Sub Branch

The Logistics Branch Rating is known as a Supply (“Dusty”).  As such you will work closely with the Supplies NCO aboard and be employed mainly in the catering dept a board.  The catering dept of a ship is especially important to the morale of the Ship’s Company and to maintaining the image of the Naval Service as a professional, hardworking and very capable organisation of young men and women.  If catering is your forte, then this career choice will definitely suit you.

As a Supply Rating aboard a ship, you will enjoy a great deal of variety in your daily work.  You will assist the Supplies NCO (Senior Petty Officer) in updating and maintaining the various computerised accounts pertaining to your department.

Cooks is a Sub-Branch of Logistics and personnel from all Branches of the Naval Service can apply but is particularly suited to personnel who have experience as a Supply Rating.  Training involves two years of training to FETAC standards, some of which is on Block Release.  Naval Cooks enjoy a very high standard of training and are tasked with providing up to three choices of main course for each meal.  As a Naval Chef you will work alongside the other ships’ chefs in the Galley and have a close working relationship with other members of the Catering Department.  Naval Chefs are recognised as being some of the most competent and creative within the Defence Forces, and have completed nationally and internationally at Chef competitions.

Operations Communications Sub Branch

Communications Rating is known as Commops (Communications Operator).  Branch training is conducted in the Communication School, Naval College and in the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) in Ringaskiddy, the Commop is trained to operate the full range of communications equipment at the disposal of the Naval Service.  The Naval Service possesses some of the most sophisticated equipment available to any Navy in the world, ranging from the handheld radios used on Boarding Operations to state of the art Satellite Comms equipment.  Commops are also trained in the basic principles of radio wave propagation and the areas of Morse Code and Visual Signalling using flag hoists, etc.  As sea as a Commop you will have a very responsible and challenging role from the outset.  Communications Ratings like most other members of the Ships Company (as the crew are called) operate a watch system of 4 hours on, and eight hours off (on call) around the clock while at sea.

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Are there opportunities to gain other skills – e.g. A Trade?

Serving personnel may apply for and be selected to undergo a wide variety of specialised training.  Examples of this include training as a Naval Diver, Motor Transport Driver, Chef, Clerical/Computer Skills, Emergency Medical Technician, Dental Surgery Assistant, Plant Operator, Rigger, amongst others.  Such training is to a recognised level.  In addition, the NS regularly run competitions from within serving members to select personnel for full-time training in a variety of skills and trades.  At the moment this includes schemes for training IT Support Technicians, Mechanical Technicians, Electrical/Electronic Technicians, Radio/Radar Technicians and Hull Artificers (shipwright/carpenters).  This training is run in conjunction with FAS and various third-level institutions.  All such trainees are in receipt of full pay and allowances while undergoing their course.

IT Support Technician

In the High Tech environment of the Naval Service, the IT Support Technician is a busy person.  The Naval Computer Centre has pioneered innovative designs of software in the past and is at present utilising the most modern software on the market, ranging from PC based applications to the Lirguard Vessel Monitoring System which has revolutionised the way in which Fisheries Protection is carried out.  NS Technicians are trained at an Institute of Technology and Defence Forces Training establishments.  Candidates must meet certain educational standards for selection.

Naval Diver

The Naval Diver is part of a very select team of highly trained, fit and well equipped people.  Whether at sea or ashore the Naval Diver is carrying out vital work searching ships’ hulls, carrying out controlled explosions on suspect objects found at sea or carrying out Search & Rescue operations.  The Naval Diving Section is respected throughout the country for the valuable and often dangerous work which they carry out to the highest professional standards and its members enjoy the highest standard of training which is comparable to Special Forces training in other armed services.  Within the Defence Forces the Naval Diving Section is credited with having about the toughest selection courses of any unit.  The Naval Service selects personnel from within its ranks to become Naval Divers.  There is a stringent twelve week selection course for those who pass the initial fitness and medical examination.  As with other Naval Service training courses students are not expected to have a great knowledge about diving before they commence the course.

Sick Berth Attendant

The SBA (medic) is the backbone of the Naval Service medical service.  The SBA is prepared for and ready to respond to any medical emergency that may arise at sea or ashore.  At sea with responsibility for the health and wellbeing of the entire crew the SBA must rely on his/her training and instinct to keep the Ships company healthy in what is a hostile and challenging environment.  Usually personnel can transfer other branches of the Service when vacancies arise.  Previous medical or paramedic/first aid experience is not a requirement to become an SBA.  Branch Training is carried out in the Defence Forces Training Centre on successful completion of which the SBA will be posted to a Ship for further experience.  Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) qualification can be reached after training is carried out with other emergency services where much experience is gained.  The SBA is a key figure aboard any Naval Ship and other duties include assisting in administrative tasks carried out in the ships regulating office.

Electrical Artificer (EA)

The electricians of the Naval Service are known as EA’s and are trained in conjunction with the FÁS.  The EA is a qualified electrician and electronic technician who maintains all shipboard electrical systems and power supplies.  At sea the EA will follow a planned maintenance routine to ensure that all vital equipment is kept functioning.

Engine Room Artificer (ERA)

The Engine Room Artificer (ERA) is a qualified Diesel Fitter/Turner, trained in conjunction with FÁS and has an in depth knowledge of all the ships engineering equipment.  This includes main engines and auxiliary engineering equipment.  The ERA is one of three ERA Watchkeepers working the Watch System of 4 hours on and 8 hours off (on call) while at sea.  You will be working closely with the Chief Petty Officer ERA and the Marine Engineer Officer.  You will be working with some of the most sophisticated engineering equipment available on the market including PLC computerised monitoring equipment.

Hull Artificer (Shipwright)

Training as a Shipwright is carried out in various Institutes of Technology over a period of three years, on successful completion a recognised carpentry qualification is received.  Summer breaks are spent at the Naval Base and aboard Naval Ships where much practical experience is gained.  At sea the Shipwright is responsible to the Marine Engineer Officer for repair of on board furniture fittings and the implementation of Damage Control precautions when required.

Radio & Radar Technician (RRT)

The RRT is a technician in the Communications Branch, the RRT is responsible for the maintenance of the ships communications equipment and navigation equipment, including RADAR, Satellite Communications Systems, Global Positioning System and Electronic Chart Displays.  Certain educational standards are required for selection and training is up to Ordinary Degree (Level 7 NFQ) in an Institute of Technology.

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Is there opportunity for promotion as a Naval Rating?

Yes.  Promotion within your Branch can be expected, in light of your experience and performance.  You can normally expected promotion to Non Commissioned Officer Rank when you have completed a number of years at sea and proven yourself to be a competent and resourceful Service Rating, subject to recommendation from your Commanding Officer and on completion of the relevant Career courses.  As a Naval Rating you may apply for a Cadetship on the same terms as any other individual, should you wish.  If you have sufficient experience you would be eligible for a bonus mark in the final cadet interview.

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What is a Naval Cadetship?

Cadets are personnel selected for training to become Officer.  A Cadetship involves a 2 year period of full-time training, on successful completion of which you will be Commissioned as a Naval Officer to be trained as either an Operations Branch Officers (Ship Drivers) or Engineering Branch Officers (Ship Maintainers).  After an initial period of 3 months at the Cadet School, Military College, Curragh, where you will learn the basics of Military life alongside your Army and Air Corps colleagues, you will then return to the Naval Base in Haulbowline, Cork, to continue your training between the Naval College, National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) and Naval Ships.  Naval Training is broken down into short Sea Terms in conjunction with Academic Terms ashore.  In the second year of your cadetship you will commence either a Marine Engineer Degree or a Nautical Science Degree in the NMCI.  Naval Officers and Cadets attending the NMCI will of course receive full pay and entitlements.

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What is the National Maritime College of Ireland?

The NMCI is a new world-class marine training centre.  It is a joint venture between Cork Institute of Technology and the Naval Service.  The college contains some of the most up to date marine training facilities such as bridge simulators, engine room simulators, firefighting facilities, sea survival pools etc.  Naval Service Officers will complete a degree in either marine engineering or nautical science.  For more information on the NMCI visit

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What qualifications do I need to apply for a Cadetship?

The educational qualifications required can change from tie to time, so you are advised to check the current requirements, contained in the booklet entitled “Cadetships in the Defence Forces, Information and Rules”.  This booklet is published in early spring, prior to the commencement of the cadet application process.  All up to date information and conditions can be viewed online at

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What if I have sat exams such as O or A levels instead of the Leaving Cert?

Supply the details of your results or the exam you are sitting, and if they are considered to be equivalent to the Leaving Cert standard set out above, they will be acceptable.

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I am a graduate, can I apply for a Cadetship?

Yes, holders of level 8 degrees from a recognised College/University or level 7 degree in Nautical Science or Marine Engineering meet the educational qualifications required.

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Are the conditions of service the same for Graduates?

Graduates who apply for a Cadetship are awarded additional marks in the competition.  When enlisted they are entitled to a higher pay rate and are commissioned in the rank of Sub Lieutenant rather than Ensign.

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How do I apply for a Naval Cadetship?

Cadetships are advertised every year in January or February through the National Media.  Shortly after applying you will be called for a preliminary screening (March or April).  Preliminary screening involves successful completion of a medical, fitness test and psychometric evaluation before being called for final interview in July.  Successful Cadets commence training in September of each year.  If is strongly advised that you retain a copy of your application form, and any supporting documentation, as this may very well be referred to at your interview.

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Which Cadetship (Operations Branch or Engineering Branch) should I apply for?

You can enter either as an Operations Branch or Engineering Branch Cadet.  The Operations Branch deals with Navigation, Weapons, Logistics and Communications.  Only in this Branch might you eventually become Captain of a State Ship.  The Engineering Branch deals with all the systems which keep the Ship functioning including Main engines, Alternators, Fuel Management, Water Generating Systems, etc. in other words everything that keeps the ship moving, operationally effective and habitable the Marine Engineering Officer is directly responsible to the Captain for Damage Control and Firefighting onboard and the readiness and training of all ships personnel in these areas.   Applicants can apply for both type of Naval Cadetships if they wish.

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Is there opportunity for Promotion as a Naval Officer?

Yes.  On successful completion of first year at NMCI, the Cadet is commissioned on a three year Short Service Commission in the rank of Ensign/Sub Lieutenant (see booklet entitled “Cadetships in the Defence Forces, Information and Rules” for exact details).  Promotion above Lt is subject to vacancies occurring, and competition amongst qualified and recommended Officers.

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How much time will I spend at sea when I complete my Training?

When you complete your training and are posted to one of the Naval Service’s ships, you can expect to spend approximately 180 days at sea in any one year.  A routine patrol is no longer than 4 weeks ( Two 14 day cycles) , after which the ship returns to the Naval Base.  Ships, generally, remain alongside at Naval Base for 2 weeks before commencing the next patrol.  Foreign deployments can range anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months.  The Naval Service Personnel structure is designed around the aspiration for all personnel to serve 2 years in an appointment at sea followed by 2 years in a shore based appointment.  Shore based appointments are designed to support the ships at sea in Training, Administrative or Maintenance roles.

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Will I receive extra pay for Seagoing duties?

Yes.  You can expect to be paid a Patrol Duty Allowance for ever day you spend at sea on patrol. Additional allowances are also paid for personnel performing certain duties, and to those holding certain technical qualifications.

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What skills will I receive in the Naval Service?

The skills you receive in the Naval Service will depend on which Branch you join.  As a matter of course, however, you will receive training in First Aid, Health & Safety issues, Firefighting and Damage Control.  More specialised training, such as Information Technology, Emergency Medical Treatment, Communications, Boat Handling and Heavy Weapons Skills are taught I specialised Branch Training.

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How do I become a Naval Diver?

The Naval Diving Section is recognised throughout all the Emergency Services of the State as a highly efficient and professional component of the Naval Service.  It is similarly recognised as having one of the most rigorous training courses in the Defence Forces and the Country as a whole.  Their work brings them into contact with Emergency Services and the local populace throughout the Country where they are called upon for Search & Rescue Operations or to make safe and dispose of suspicious devices around the Coastline.  This career path is not for the faint hearted and is open to all selected personnel who meet the rigorous medical, physical and military requirements for entry to the Diving Course and once they have completed basic and professional Branch Training, a daily allowance when diving and additional pay are paid to qualified indate Naval Divers.  

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What Financial Package can the Naval Service offer?

Naval Service Personnel are expected to perform to high professional standards in the hostile environment that can exist in the seas off our coastline.  They are expected to maintain and operate modern complex ships in this environment at all times.  They are entrusted with high levels of responsibility at an early age.  In order to compensate for these attributes, Naval Service personnel are paid a wide variety of allowances and their overall remuneration packages are amongst the highest in the Defence Forces.  The attached leaflet will give an indication of typical earning potential for the various grades.

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What if I suffer from Seasickness, can I still join?

Suffering from seasickness is quite normal for the initial couple of days at sea.  It occurs as your body adjusts to the ships motion.  It is quite common for ‘first-trippers’ to suffer from seasickness for the first day or two of their initial patrol.  It very rarely lasts, however, there are cases of people who suffer from chronic seasickness, but it must be stressed that this is rare.  Nevertheless, if you feel that you may suffer from this illness, then you should inform the Medical Officer during your medical examination.