Personnel - 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 Navies 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.
2a. Constructors and Naval Architects [by Bill Broughton]
The aim of this manuscript is to trace the training and officer classification of constructors and naval architects in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). In
terms of their employment, they have always applied their expertise in the design, construction, modification, and repair of ships, submarines and
auxiliary vessels in respect of their arrangements, strength, seakeeping, manoeuvrability, stability, ship modelling, corrosion resistance, and
structural repairs including damage control.
Firstly, the terms “constructor” and “naval architect” should be clarified as they relate to the RCN. The term naval architect has remained constant
overtime at least until now. It applies to technical officers who have completed a post graduate degree in naval architecture. Typically, but not
necessarily, they took their naval architecture education at either the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with the United States Navy (USN)
and the United States Coast Guard (USCG); or, they took it with the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors (RCNC) at either the Royal Naval College (RNC) at
Greenwich or the University College London (UCL). On the other hand, constructors have generally been Commissioned from the Ranks (CFR) officers,
typically from either the shipwright or hull technician trades. In the 1960s a few constructors were direct entry officers from the UK with a National
Certificate in shipbuilding. There can be some confusion because all of these categories had the rank label “Constructor” and the grey colour between
their uniform’s gold rings until the officer’s branches were disbanded on January 1st, 1959.
FIRST SHIPS TO THE END WW I
It might be debatable as to who was the first “constructor” in the RCN. But a review of our Naval Officer Lists
(https://navalandmilitarymuseum.org/archives/projects/the-navy-list) that were published from Oct 1910 to Oct 1965, and Mar 1969 record a progression
of officer rank usages in our group - Carpenter, Warrant Carpenter, Chief Carpenter, Shipwright (1920), and Constructor (1942). The first names in 1910
are Joseph Poling, seniority 17 June 1910 as the Carpenter Officer on HMCS RAINBOW, and Samuel G. S. Morrell, seniority 10 June 1910 as the Carpenter
Officer on HMCS NIOBE. They were both on loan from the Royal Navy (RN) and served in those capacities until 1913 and 1914, respectively. Poling
returned home and was relieved by Acting Carpenter Charles H. Brown, RCN, seniority 15 April 1913; and Morrell returned home and was relieved by Acting
Carpenter Randall Orlando Burnett, RCN, seniority 01 October, 1913. Burnett resigned in 1917. In addition to the two ships, John H. Davey on RN loan
served in the Halifax Dockyard as a Chief Carpenter, seniority 26 Feb 1911, until summer 1919 when he retired as a Shipwright LT, seniority 29 Jun 1912.
On Armistice Day the RCN had one Shipwright LT and five Warrant Shipwrights.
END WW I TO THE END WW II
By 1920 only Warrant Shipwrights Charles H. Brown and John Edwin Hutchings remained. Both served until the summer of 1944, Hutchings intermittently,
and Brown continuously. Hutchings resigned in 1920, re-enlisted in 1925, resigned in 1935, re-enlisted in 1939 and retired in 1944 as a Shipwright LT.
Brown was promoted to Warrant Shipwright in 1918, Shipwright LT in 1925, Shipwright LCDR in 1935, and retired in 1944 after 43 years of service as a
Shipwright CDR, OBE with seniority 1 Jul, 1940. At the end of WWII, the regular RCN had as Constructors a CAPT and a S/LT; and as Shipwrights a CDR, a
LCDR, and two LTs. The RCN® had one Commissioned Shipwright and six Warrant Shipwrights. The RCN(VR) had as Constructors, one CDR (Frank Freeborn),
4 LCDRs, 5 LTs, and 2 S/LTs; and also had two Shipwright LTs. The Navy Lists do not indicate if Freeborn had been trained as a Naval Architect, but he
may have attended RNC Greenwich. Freeborn later transferred to the regular force and retired in 1961 as a CMDRE having been the Constructor-in-Chief
for five years.
During the war and shortly afterwards a number of members of the RCNC came to the RCN, some temporarily on loan, and others who stayed and joined the
RCN. The most notable was Sir Rowland Baker who came to Canada on loan in 1948. In 1941 as an A/Chief Constructor he had been Superintendent of
Landing Craft in the UK. When he came to Canada, he was made a Constructor Captain in the RCN® with seniority November 9th, 1942. From 1950 to 1958
he was the Constructor-in-Chief for the RCN and led the Canadian design of the St. Laurent Class destroyers.
Another notable Royal Corps Constructor on loan to the RCN during the war was the Director of Naval Construction at Naval Service HQ, Constructor
Captain A.N. Harrison. He also set up the Branch of the Naval Constructor-in-Chief.
During WW II Canada started to send selected officers to RNC Greenwich for their two- year post graduate course in naval architecture. The RNC had
taught advanced marine engineering and naval engineering since 1873, mainly to British marine engineers and naval architects. If not Freeborn as
noted above, based on discussions with others, it is believed that the first RCN officer to go to RNC Greenwich for naval architecture was Earl Kimmerly
from 1943 to 1945. He was released in the early 1960s as a LCDR.
END WW II TO THE TISDALE COMMITTEE REPORT
After the war, as well as continuing to send selected officers to RNC Greenwich, the RCN also started to send them to MIT for naval architecture
training. Officers elected to go to MIT took a three-year course and had a choice of four options: hull, marine, electrical and nuclear. All four
options covered traditional naval architecture subjects, but each option had added subjects in its field. On completion of the course, students
received two post-graduate degrees: the Master of Science (SM) degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, and the degree Naval Engineer
(Nav E) for completing the major course requirements for a PhD (but not the minor course, the foreign language, the oral exam, and the PhD thesis
Based on Navy Lists and information from MIT, it is fairly certain that the first two to go to MIT were Hyman (Hy) Alexander Shenker and Barry Samuel
Brissenden from 1951to 1954 in the post-graduate course XIII-A (Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering) with USN and USCG officers. In fact, they
co-wrote the thesis “Reanalysis of some ship structural design criteria /by B. S. Brissenden and H. A. Shenker. 1954”. Shenker had been a Pilot
Officer in the RCAF during the war and earned the DFC. On demobilization he transferred to the RCN and did his undergraduate engineering degree at the
University of Toronto as a veteran and then was selected to go to MIT. Amongst his appointments was to serve on HMCS LABRADOR as a Constructor LT in
- He retired in the late sixties as a Constructor CDR with seniority 01/07/59. Brissenden was appointed Lt (Temp) RCNVR with seniority
10/01/1943. In 1944 he served on HMCS BADDECK. He transferred to the RCN and as a Constructor LT was Constructor Officer on staff of the Principal
Naval Overseer, Sorel. He was released as a Constructor LCDR around 1960.
In 1967 the RCNC decided to move naval architecture training from RNC Greenwich to a civilian university where successful naval architecture students
would be more formally recognized by a degree-granting institution. Discussions were held with University College London and Cambridge University
resulting in an agreement with UCL to provide a naval architecture studies program at the UCL campus. The program would include a one-year post-
graduate course leading to a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Naval Architecture within the Faculty of Engineering. RCNC officers would take their
undergraduate degree at UCL and external students would join them for the one-year MSc course. Thereafter, selected RCN officers spent one year at the
Constructor Training Office (CTO) located in Plymouth Dockyard prior to their MSc year at UCL.
The first RCN officer to be selected to go to UCL was John Thomas. In his case, he started with a year at Plymouth Dockyard, then one year at Greenwich, and then a third year at UCL. John retired from the RCN as a CDR in 1980 after completing the Management Requirements for the Frigate Program. He then moved to the Government of Canada, where he became the Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard. On retiring from the Government John went to work as the President of Irving Shipbuilding, followed by consulting in the public and private sectors until 2018.
THE TISDALE COMMITTEE REPORT TO UNIFICATION
On January 1st, 1959, the Navy abolished the Branch rank colours except for medical doctors and nurses who kept their red. By the end of 1959, the Navy Lists no longer used the Constructor and similar rank distinctions. In the early 1960s the Navy established a Personnel Structure Review Committee under the Chairmanship of RADM Tisdall to develop further the new officer structure. For post-graduate trained officers, a major recommendation of the Tisdall Report, with an intended profound effect on their careers, was to be the establishment of a Restricted Duty List on which they would be placed."
For post-graduate trained officers, a major recommendation of the Tisdall Report, with an intended profound effect on their careers, was to be the
establishment of a Restricted Duty List on which they would be placed. Post-graduate candidates would be drawn from the General List at the end of their Second Sea Phase, and be selected based on “suitable testing procedures and proven ability”. On completion of PG education they would “become Restricted Duty Officers (RDOs) and relinquish command at sea”. Their subsequent employment was to be “only in their specific fields and fields of a general nature pertaining to all RDOs”. This last statement was amplified by giving the numbers of positions open to RDOs above the rank of CDR; namely, General List Officers had only 3 of 80 positions (3.75%) above CDR denied to them and all three were at the rank of CAPT. On the other hand, RDOs had 54 of 80 (67.5%) denied to them. Furthermore, the opportunity for promotion above CDR for RDOs was even less than the 26 open to them above the rank of CAPT. because all but the three CAPT positions could be filled by General List officers rather than RDOs.
The author of this manuscript submitted a brief to the Tisdall Committee arguing that the RDO scheme would be detrimental to the Navy by limiting a
proper opportunity for senior appointments to such highly qualified officers. In part the submission said “This scheme over-emphasizes employment ‘only in their specific fields’, an apparent result of assuming that those who leave the main stream for three years are forever incapacitated to see the forest for the trees. On the contrary, the purpose of graduate study is described in the calendar (1962) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as follows: ‘Although graduate study is often popularly associated with a high degree of specialization, M.I.T. believes that such specialization, though valuable, is secondary to extending mental horizons, producing new orientations, and developing growth in intellectual courage and depth of understanding.’” The submission was acknowledged to have been received, but its offer to appear before the Committee was not entertained. Fortunately, in 1964 when the Minister of National Defence, Paul Hellyer, ordered that the Canadian Armed Forces be unified, the RDO concept was overtaken by that event and never re-surfaced.
POST UNIFICATION TO CURRENT TRAINING
The initial steps towards unification involved the integration of various functions within National Defence Headquarters including personnel management. In the case of the Navy, both engineering and supply officers were particularly affected. Supply Officers were amalgamated with army and air force supply and finance officers into a new Logistics (LOG) Military Officer Classification (MOC). Marine engineers, combat systems engineers, naval architects and commissioned from the ranks (CFR) constructors were grouped into the Maritime Engineering (MARE) (44) classification.
Initially the various naval executive and technical groups were blended to form the Sea Operations Group. This had a negative consequence on the
recruitment of Military College cadets into the MAREs. Apparently, the potential candidates were often interpreting Sea Operations to mean not really
practicing engineering. When Commodore Ray Ross, Director General Maritime Engineering and Maintenance at the time, became aware of this, he approached the Personnel Branch about placing MAREs in an engineering grouping for purposes of recruitment. As a result, an even better arrangement was adopted wherein MAREs were a separate entity (unique if you will) for recruitment. The next recruiting year the number of MARE applicants rose from less than ten to over thirty!
It took from 1969 to 1972 to achieve an initial MARE specification. In 1973 a MARE study was conducted leading to changes in the training of Marine
System (MS) and Combat System (CS) officers. Marine engineers and combat systems engineers were placed in separate Sub-MOCs; whereas naval architects
and constructors were designated Qualifications. New designations were assigned: 44B for Marine Systems Engineers, 44C for Combat Systems Engineers,
44D for Constructors, and 44E for Naval Architects.
This arrangement of the MARE classification caused confusion as to what should be the training regime for naval architects. Most of the officers who had been selected had started out as marine engineers, although a few had an ordnance or combat systems background. The career point at which officers had been selected also varied. Some had only completed first sea phase, some had completed second sea phase, a few had been ship Engineering Officers, and at least one went directly from receiving his baccalaureate with only cadet sea time. One of the ramifications of this disparity of when an officer had been selected for PG in naval architecture, was that some more senior officers did not want to accept them for “field” positions such as in dockyard production, or squadron engineering officer, because they had not been the EO of a ship. After discussions within the naval architecture community, it was recommended that candidates not be selected before they had completed at least their second sea phase. With this proviso, naval architecture and constructor were changed to be Specialties.
Meanwhile, in the early 1980s, the personnel branch was approached to have the 44D Constructor specification require Hull Technicians who were being
selected for commissioning to attend a technology level course in naval architecture/shipbuilding. This specification change was approved and candidates began to attend the Marine Institute of Memorial University in Newfoundland.
In the early 2000s, a few years after the creation of the Officer Training Division within the Canadian Forces Naval Engineering School, the naval
technical community was actively discussing the restructure of the MARE classification and numerous options were being debated including a one-single
concept. There was a MARE Restructuring Working Group with ADM(HR-Mil) personnel to examine potential options for the classification. From
recommendations made by the MARE Council and the Working Group, and other discussions at Naval Board, the Chief of Maritime Staff (CMS) ordered the
restructuring of the MARE classification.
The result was a transition to a structure of three specialties within what became the Naval Technical Officer (NTO) Branch. The new occupations were:
Maritime Systems Engineers (MS), Naval Combat Systems Engineers, (NCS), and Naval Engineer (Nav Eng). The Naval Engineer Occupation became the terminal NTO occupation for Commanders and Captains (N) drawn from both MS and NCS officers. Promotions by specialty commenced in 2003.
The expertise and knowledge associated with the Naval Architecture and Naval Constructor fields would be acquired through Occupation Specialty
Specifications (OSS) like other specific skill sets within the Branch such as missiles, underwater systems, reliability and maintainability, etc. A
QSP Board (Qualifications Specifications Plan) was used to craft the OS Specifications.
For Naval Architecture, the programs at MIT and UCL would remain the two options for selected candidates coming from either the MS or the NCS occupations depending on their academic background and experience. In the case of MIT, in 2004 The Department of Ocean Engineering was amalgamated with the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Course XIII-A was re-designated Course 2N with the title The Naval Construction and Engineering Program. It is offered as both a two-year program leading to a Master of Science degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, and a three-year program leading to the degree Naval Engineer. Currently the RCN is sending selected candidates to the two-year program as the three-year program is usually available only to the American students. RCN candidates will select electives within the program and some will have the opportunity to complete a second degree (Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering).
In the case of UCL, the program has not changed significantly over recent years. The program lasts 18 months and includes two components. The first
component is the core degree curriculum including study areas such as ship dynamics, ship hydrodynamics, ship structures and advanced engineering
analysis. The second component, which normally consumes the last four months of the 18-month program, is the submarine design course, which focuses on
all aspects of submarine design including a design project. The submarine design course is now part of the Occupation Specialty Specifications for
In addition, a liaison with the University of British Columbia (UBC) has commenced so that their naval architecture program could be considered a
potential and valid program for the OSS; that would give the RCN three potential streams of qualifying naval architects.
For Naval Constructors, a specific course was designed so that the requirement for Liquid Cargo Officers for the AORs would be addressed.
Today, the naval architecture skills remain at the forefront of the naval engineering community as coastal formations (Fleet Maintenance Facilities) and Ottawa organizations (DGMEPM and DGMPD(Sea)) require and extensively use the naval architecture skills set. With capital ship building projects in full motion. and the efforts to maintain the current vessels operational and safe, there is no doubt that the naval architecture specialty will remain an essential part of the naval engineering areas of work for years to come.
The author gratefully acknowledges the information, suggestions and proof reading so generously offered by the following Naval Engineers: Simon Page,
John Thomas, Don Wight, Bob McNeilly, and Pat Barnhouse.
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. It is expected more information will be available to add detail to this page.
b). This article by Tony Thatcher outlines his development as a CSE. My CSE Training