A job as a Royal Navy Writer

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Laura Jones decided to join the Royal Navy while in Year 11 at school. She filled in the forms, had an interview around Easter and joined in September after she completed her GCSEs. She is a writer involved in administrative duties at the Second Sea Lord's Office.

What is a writer?

In the Navy, a writer describes all those positions involved in administration and accountancy – it has nothing to do with being a journalist or author!

What does a writer do?

I deal with all the mail that comes in and goes out of the Second Sea Lord's Office. Each piece of post has to be logged onto the computer tracking system, so we know where to file it. We need to be sure we can find any document that we are asked for. If other people need to see letters or documents, I photocopy them and take them to the other offices.

What sort of person do you need to be?

Careful, methodical and well-organised. Everything needs to be done in a particular way and we're often busy. It's a responsible job too. I have to see that everything is locked away. We need to keep fit in the Navy and I have to pass my annual fitness test. But I'm not a sporty person.

What is a typical day?

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I start at 8.00 a.m. I open the security cabinets, switch on the computers and print the emails. The rest of the day is taken up with filing, photocopying, distributing copies around the headquarters building and sending faxes.

At sea I will spend most of my time in the Ships' Office, looking after pay records and queries and all types of correspondence. Other duties may include acting as a first aider, helping with replenishment at sea or as Incident Board Recorder in the ship's Control Room.

Where do you live?

In an accommodation block for female ratings. It's on the Naval base HMS Nelson, and it only takes 10 minutes to walk to work. At the moment I share a room, but we are due to get new accommodation with single rooms. Portsmouth's a long way from home in Middlesbrough, so I like sharing – there's always someone to talk to. When I go to sea I will share an accommodation and relaxation area with other female members of the ship's company.

What about your training?

After my eight weeks of basic training I spent a further 15 weeks on specific training at the Royal Naval Logistics School at HMS Raleigh. I learnt about word processing, pay and allowances and registry work. But that was only the start of it – I've become skilled at so much since I started doing the job.

And the future?

I have decided to sign up for 22 years in the Navy. I've spent my first year learning and after another year or two I may be selected for promotion to leading hand – I have to complete a task book and go on a two-week leadership course. I want to get some experience in a unit personnel office ashore, so I can go to sea. I've seen some different parts of Britain, but I want to go overseas. In a ship, I might be calculating pay, looking after personnel documents or working in the captain's office. I could be promoted to warrant officer and be in charge of a unit personnel office.

Laura's tips

  • Leaving home is an adventure and can be nerve-wracking at times.
  • You need to have an orderly mind.

Becoming a Royal Navy Writer

  • After basic training, writers join the Royal Navy Supply School for 15 weeks of professional training. This covers accounting and administrative skills.
  • Before becoming fully qualified, writers undertake 8 months of supervised work in an in shore unit personnel office.
  • Training includes the award of a NVQ Level 2 in Business Administration.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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