Qualifications & Training
Naval Personnel qualifications and Training is a complex subject that will be tackled over time. It is intended to focus initially on the qualifications and training of Engineering officers - including Marine Systems, Combat Systems and Naval Architecture.
The Webmaster will be reaching out to those from that specialized area who will be invited to contribute to this section of the CNTHA website.
Marine Systems [by the Author]
a). For many years, the RN and Commonwealth Navy’s Engineer Officers received their training at the Royal Naval Engineering College (RNEC) - a specialist establishment for the training of Royal Navy engineers. It was founded as Keyham College in 1880, new buildings were opened in Manadon in 1940 and the old college site at Keyham closed in 1958 with the opening by Queen Elizabeth of the new accommodation block at Manadon. [Wikipedia] This training was followed by on-the-job training aboard RN and Commonwealth ships. [The author and 21 other RCN Engineering trainees - including several Aerospace Engineering students - arrived at Manadon in January, 1957 and spent 5 of the 7 Basic Engineering terms at Manadon - the other 2 at Keyham - with the last two terms in the new accommodation block at Manadon noted above];
b). In Canada, following a period at sea, the ultimate qualification was the awarding of a Certificate of Competency - Part II. Latterly there has been Head-of-Department training that formerly was part of the earlier training package;
c). Formal engineering training evolved over time. There was a relatively short period, in the early 1960’s, when Canadian Engineers were trained at RNEC Manadon but in due course, the training moved back to Canada and Engineering studies were undertaken at the Canadian Service Colleges, ultimately at the Royal Military College, Kingston and in civilian universities;
d). In the earlier days, there existed Electrical Officers. Over time, some of those officers became CSE’s. In the process, Engineering power became the responsibility of the Marine Systems Engineers; and
e). Further details will be provided in due course.
Naval Architecture [by John Thomas]
a). Most Naval Architects start out as Marine Systems Engineers serving aboard ships to earn their Certificate of Competency - Part II. At this point, career managers in Ottawa take the initial steps of determining whether the officer would be a candidate for training in Naval Architecture;
b). Training is provided in two locations: MIT in the USA and University College London in the UK. In both cases, the officer/student spends two years working towards a Masters of Science degree, with a total emphasis on naval architecture;
c). The Naval Architecture courses include material such as: strength of materials; marine law; ship design; welding; non-destructive modes of material analysis; computer design; mathematics of ship motions; ship stability; launching and docking; and special ship types. In addition, there is considerable hands-on work in shipyards and design offices; and
d). Upon completion of their Masters Degree, the Naval Architect is likely to be posted to HQ Ottawa to work on ship replacement projects. The second appointment is likely to be to one of the ship repair facilities on either coast.
Electrical [by Pat Barnhouse] The Short Life of the Electrical Branch
a). In World War II (WWII) the predecessors of the RCN Electrical (L) Branch were the Radar Officers trained in Canada and loaned to the RN for service in capital ships, the officers fulfilling power and electronics duties and the ratings from the torpedo, ASDIC (now Sonar) and communications trades (including those trained in RDF – now known as radar). About at the end of WWII, the L Branch was formed from the nucleus of those WWII officers and men that chose to remain in the navy;
b). The responsibilities of the branch covered power generation and distribution, logs, plots, gyros, motors, generators, internal communication, radar, external communications and the electric/electronic components of guns and sonars. Officers were expected to be knowledgeable in all these areas, but ratings were somewhat more specialized. The generally accepted academic qualification for officers was a degree in electrical engineering although those with an engineering physics or acceptable science degree could qualify. Ratings required a grade 10 education (in the post war year era this was a high requirement as most trades in the navy were open to those with a grade 8 education);
c). In-service training for officers was at first ad hoc, but by 1950 the first year-long Long Electrical Officers’ Long L) Course was underway. Officers commissioned from the ranks were given a technical course tailored to areas of technology to which they had not been exposed as ratings;
d). Ratings all joined as Ordinary Seaman Electricians Mate Standard (OSLMS) and after basic training proceeded to sea for OJT. Here they qualified as ABLM1 (the “1” standing for trade group one). This was followed by their first technical course where they divided into training as an ET (electrical technician) or RT (radio/radar technician later called LT. At the end of this course there rank and trade group were usually LSET3 or LSRT3. Their next course (Trade Group 4) was as a P2. Here the ET’s were further divided into ET (power generation and distribution, logs, plots, etc.), ED (sonar) or EG (fire control). Completion of this course usually saw them as Petty Officer First class Trade Group 4. Beyond the Trade Group 4 qualification there was also a Chief’s course required to become a Chief Petty Officer First Class;
e). There was also a subset of this system involved with support of naval air. Post Long L Course, L Officers usually volunteered for this service and were qualified through a mixture of equipment courses and familiarization periods with the RN or USN. The electrical ratings actually followed a separate stream to their shipboard counterparts by courses training them as EA’s or RA’s;
f). The demise of the Electrical Branch came around 1960 with implementation of the Tisdall Report, but that is another story!
Combat Systems [several CSE’s being consulted]
a). Combat Systems Engineers had their “base” in the Electrical and Ordnance programs. The CSE’s did go to the RNEC, Manadon for about three years in the early 1970’s, but through the initiative of Hugh MacPherson at the Academic Division in the Halifax Fleet School, the training was repatriated to Canada, using in part the services of the Technical University of Nova Scotia (TUNS) but was later merged with Dalhousie University Polytechnic (nicknamed DalTech) and eventually fully integrated into the programs of Dalhousie University.