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Naval Base welcomes first Engineer Reservists

10 February 2016
Chief Petty Officers Mark Davies and Tim Spence are ex-Regular Service men, each having served 22 years in the Royal Navy. But the pair, who are now in full-time employment, have decided to use their engineering know-how in the newly formed Engineer Reserves Branch.

CPO (Engineering Technician)(Mechanical Engineer Submarines) Mark Davies left the Royal Navy in 2008 having served on Destroyer HMS Bristol, Leander class frigates HMS Phoebe and Sirius, and latterly Swiftsure class attack submarines HMS Splendid and Sceptre.

After leaving the navy, his wealth of engineering knowledge led him to his current job with Babcock International, where he works within the high-tech Astute Training Facility.  

With the formation of the Engineer Reserve Branch, Mark decided to volunteer as a Maritime Reservist at HMS Dalriada.  He is one of seven Engineer Reservists currently serving in Scotland and has recently been appointed Trade Master, overseeing the other Engineers.  

His colleague, Tim Spence, is a Chief Petty Officer (Engineering Technician) (Weapons Engineer Submarines) with experience serving on HMS Iron Duke, Type 42 HMS Manchester and on ballistic submarines HMS Vengeance, Vigilant and Vanguard.  

Leaving the Senior Service in 2013 after serving for 22 years, Tim soon found employment with BAE Systems in Barrow-in-Furness.  

“I saw volunteering for the Engineer Reserves Branch as a great opportunity,” said Tim.  “It’s an opportunity to keep my hand in, an opportunity to learn skills which will benefit my employer, and also a chance to lend the Royal Navy the knowledge and experience I have accumulated since leaving.  It’s good for everyone.”

I saw volunteering for the Engineer Reserves Branch as a great opportunity - to keep my hand in - to learn new skills

Chief Petty Officer (Engineering Technician) Tim Spence, weapons engineer submarines

Tim is using his expertise at the Naval Base’s Periscope Workshop, carrying out essential maintenance tasks, while Mark is working with Afloat Repair Electrical.  In the future the pair hope to be employed directly on submarines to assist the crew during maintenance periods.  

“Both Tim and I have progressed to a point in our civilian careers where we are mainly office-based,” explained Mark.  “One of the great things about joining the Engineer Reserve Branch is that it takes us back to the workshops and submarines and back to that practical, hands-on, work that attracted us to engineering in the first place.  I also miss the free socks,” he joked.

From sensitive electronics and information systems, to huge gas turbine engines and sophisticated weapons, Royal Navy engineers are responsible from some of the most advanced technology in the world.  

In July 2014, after an absence of 21 years, the Engineer Reserve Branch was reintroduced to the Royal Navy.  At the moment there are some 50 Reserve Engineers serving with the Branch around the country with more sought.

“I would recommend it to anyone,” said Mark, “especially those who are leaving the Service.  There is a seamless transfer into the Branch and a guarantee that you will not be mobilised during the first two-years of Service.  This allows you time to get your feet under the table with a new employer.”

For those who are ex-regular entry is via the Armed Forces Career Office.  Most personnel will join in their previous rank or rate and with the same pay scale. Those who complete their required 24 day commitment and are in date for the RN Fitness Test could earn a tax free bonus of up to £1,725.  The age limit is currently 57 years old.  

Tim continued: “The camaraderie is brilliant too.  It was good to come back as a Reservist, get back into the Mess and meet a few of the faces I served with previously.  There’s been a lot of interest and questions from them about the Engineering Branch.”

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