Life in the Navy

Education and training

Being the best you can be

Education and training is how we turn you from raw recruit into an accomplished and confident member of the Navy team. It’s how we prepare you for the type of situations you might face, as well as giving you the skills to deal with them. It’s where new colleagues become best mates. It’s an integral and enjoyable part of Navy life. We never stop learning.

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Types of education and training

On the job

As a new recruit you will stay at the Navy home base, HMNZS Philomel, in Devonport, Auckland. Depending on whether you are joining as an Officer or a Sailor you will complete a different Basic Training course – during this time you will get to know the base and its facilities, spend time with other new recruits and get used to Navy life.

Basic Common Training is the first course any new sailor undertakes when joining the Navy. This is a 18 week course aiming to take you from civilian to competent and self disciplined Naval Sailor. It is also aimed at confirming the suitability of trainees for the Navy, preparing them for specialist training and life onboard our Ships.


The first phase of training focuses on inducting the trainee into the Navy.

It is held at the Recruit Training Squadron and aims to place trainees under limited controlled stress to:

  • Develop teamwork/team support in a controlled environment
  • Encourage mutual harmony and community well being
  • Adapt to Naval discipline and regulations
  • Participate in physical fitness/sport
  • Understand and develop self-discipline
  • Learn how to care for and clean naval uniform

The second phase of training gives the basic skills and knowledge to be in the Navy. Apart from academic and practical training there is an emphasis placed on teamwork. You will develop confidence, self-esteem and self-respect. Much of this phase will be spent doing various forms and levels of physical activity which are designed to encourage teamwork, instil personal discipline and foster comradeship.

Parade training is an important part of naval life; it will teach you to think and to work as a team and to complete instruction quickly and correctly. One day in an emergency your life or your comrade’s life may depend on your quick response to a superior’s command. You will learn to think and act without hesitation.


You will then move onto Basic Branch Training (BBT) where you will begin learning skills in your chosen trade.



Upon successful enlisting into the Navy you'll begin with the Junior Officer Induction Course in one of our Service Training Establishments. After completing this six week course you'll be posted to the Officer Training School (OTS) in Narrowneck, Devonport, to complete your remaining 16 weeks of Junior Officer Common Training (JOCT) course. You'll be exposed to various subjects and find out what it takes to be an officer in the Navy. 


JOIC is a tri-service course that all New Zealand Defence Force Midshipman and Officer Cadets are required to complete at the beginning of their officer careers.  The purpose of this six-week course is to introduce you to military life, and to make connections with other Officer Cadets from different services.

This course will introduce you to the standards and discipline demanded by all members of the NZDF as well as the ethos and values required to be an officer in the NZDF.  During this course you will learn a variety of military skills including field craft, weapon handling, navigation, parade drill, battle craft, military law, communications, and an introduction to leadership. During JOIC, you'll become well acquainted with peer to peer feedback, which is presented after various tasks in order to help you to improve your leadership.


Junior Officer Common Training is designed to primarily develop and test an individual's leadership, as well as induct trainees into naval life. It's important to note that you'll learn what it takes to be a successful leader in the Navy and be taught skills to improve your leadership – you don't have to be an expert just yet!

Throughout training you'll learn about the following, and more:

  • Navy ethos and values
  • Ceremonial customs
  • Drill and parade
  • Weapons training
  • Basic mariner training
  • Damage control
  • Maritime strategy
  • Communication skills
  • Defence writing and publications
  • Leadership.

 The parts that make up JOCT can be categorised into one of three groups; Navy Induction; Sea Qualification and Academic Development, and Leadership.


At the beginning of your training there's a strong focus on learning the basics of becoming an officer in the Navy.  These include general service knowledge, discipline, parade, uniform preparation, and developing a high level of physical and mental fitness.  You'll be introduced to what it's like to be in the Navy, and how it differs from the other two services. These first few weeks are important for developing teamwork with each other and instilling positive habits. 


Trainees will get the opportunity to gain sea qualification, which includes completing Basic Mariner Training (BMT), and Damage Control School.  Basic Mariner Training is completed at the Bill Morley Seamanship Training Aids Facility within Devonport Naval base. Trainees will be introduced to the basic functions and procedures on board Royal New Zealand Navy ships.  Damage Control School is at the Sea Safety Training Squadron beside the Ngataringa Sports Complex. This module will teach trainees how to identify and extinguish fires on board ship, as well as dealing with flooding and toxic gas threats.

As an officer, being diplomatic and aware of what is going on in the wider world is a key skill needed.  Trainees will be educated in Maritime strategy, and the importance of the RNZN's role and capabilities.  Trainees will practice Defence communication methods, such as service writing and oral communication.  These skills are put to use in their Maritime Strategy essay and history presentation. 


Trainees are educated and assessed on their leadership skills throughout JOCT.  There are many opportunities to showcase your leadership; from being the class IC (In Command), to partaking in a four-day tramp through the Kaimai Ranges, to leading during the scenario-based assessment weeks at the Tamaki Leadership Centre. The weeks spent at Tamaki Leadership Centre in Whangaparoa are designed for trainees to not only develop their leadership, but also improve teamwork and resilience as you work to compete a range of tasks. 

When you train as a Sailor or Officer, you'll learn to tackle the unexpected. This is a skill that you will take with you far beyond your career in the Navy.

Your training will begin with a Common Training Course where you will be introduced to the basics of Naval training, taking you from a civilian to a competent and self-disciplined member of our crew.


If you're training as a Sailor, you'll then move into learning your chosen trade – some of which will see you gain industry-recognised qualifications.


As an officer, you'll also begin your specialist training – however, some of these roles may require you to first complete a level of tertiary education before you begin. There are several scholarship options available which could assist you in achieving this. 


The ongoing development of Navy personnel is also very important to us – we are always looking at ways to help you improve in skills that will be beneficial to both you and the Navy. The majority of these will be focused on the Navy but there are also opportunities to apply for grants for other educational courses through the Voluntary Study Assistance Scheme.

The Navy offers three types of tertiary study scheme for those who are either already studying to complete a degree or who wish to study towards completion of a degree which the Navy deems relevant to the their chosen naval career path. 

Prior to commencing any one of the three schemes, selected participants will be required to apply and complete academic testing, fitness testing and conduct a number of interview sessions to determine if they are suitable to become a Naval Officer. 

Each of the three schemes has a specific employment focus and offers varying degrees of financial support as follows:


Officers join the Navy as a Midshipman and complete the normal training requirements along with their peers.  Confirmation that they are to commence sponsored tertiary study is advised on completion of this initial training which is conducted over the first five months of naval service. 

In the normal course of events an officer will commence their tertiary study at the beginning of the following year, that is year 2 in the Navy.  The normal time frame allocated for tertiary studies permits the completion of a Bachelor degree. In other words Midshipman Scheme members will attend University full time and be paid a salary to do so.

Generally a Return of Service (ROS) is required – one calendar year for each academic year the RNZN sponsors the recruit through university


This scheme is predicated on being accepted into the scheme and on completion of a degree joining the Navy.  Entry into the Amokura Scheme remains conditional upon the gaining entrance into or continuing an appropriate degree course of study at University. 

After an Amokura Scheme member successfully completes the requirements to gain a degree and has provided documented evidence of their academic results they enter the RNZN and commence their naval service.

An Amokura Scheme member receives no financial support from the RNZN while they are studying at university.  After entry into the RNZN an Amokura Scheme member is however reimbursed the cost of the course fees they incurred in gaining their degree up to a prescribed maximum, subject to them providing documented evidence to the RNZN that they did indeed pay these fees. 


While selected for regular force service in the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) a Chatham Scheme member initially serves in the Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNZNVR), which is a non-regular force component of the New Zealand Naval Forces, while he or she is completing university studies. They subsequently transfer to the RNZN and begin their full-time naval career once they have fulfilled the requirements to gain a university degree. 

A Chatham Scheme member is entitled to a regime of financial assistance (fees, accommodation and living allowance, textbook costs) in support of their tertiary studies and a Return of Service is usually applied by one year for each academic year of sponsored study.

*A full disclosure of the terms and conditions of the schemes can be provided on application.

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