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Royal Navy celebrates engineers on National Engineering Day

2 November 2022
Engineering and technicians of the engineering profession are the beating heart of the Royal Navy.

That is the message today, on National Engineering Day, from the Commanding Officer of the Royal Navy's school of engineering.

Captain Jo Deakin is herself a Royal Navy engineer and head of training establishment HMS Sultan, through which thousands of sailors have been trained to keep cutting-edge warships, submarines and aircraft ready for front-line action.

As the Royal Navy marks National Engineering Day, Capt Deakin hailed the Royal Navy's engineers, stating that this is an exciting time to be in the Senior Service – with new technology and warships providing fascinating challenges – and called on more women to get involved.

“Engineering is at the heart of the Royal Navy,” she said. “The Royal Navy delivers on a wide range of operations and in the centre of that, you will find engineers.

“No ship or submarine goes to sea without a significant department of engineers maintaining equipment, and diagnosing and rectifying faults and no flying happens until the aircraft is serviceable.

“A lot of our work happens behind the scenes and that’s fine because is about delivering for the team and the overall outcome.”

Sultan in Gosport, Hampshire, is home to the Defence School of Marine Engineering and the Royal Naval Air Engineering and Survival Equipment School.

From aircraft, ships and submarines, to weapons and communications, engineers are essential to global operations. 

From marine engineers who maintain ships and submarines, weapon engineers to air engineers who look after aircraft. 

For engineers and technicians, each day brings with it a fresh challenge.

This is why all engineers have the knowhow to find simple solutions to complex problems, fast. 

Without them, the Royal Navy’s maritime presence would literally grind to a halt, in operational situations where time waits for no-one.

Capt Deakin herself trained at Sultan in 1996 and her passion for engineering is as strong as ever.

“I love engineering so I struggle to see why it wouldn’t be someone’s first choice," she said.

"There’s so much opportunity for people to jump into and it’s such an exciting time.

"There's automation, cyber technology, uncrewed vehicles above, on and below the sea, advanced materials, battery technology, synthetic fuels and sustainable solutions.  As the Royal Navy embraces the digital era, there will always be a requirement for the precise motor and haptic skills that technology cannot replace.

“I am fortunate I have had such a varied and exciting career but it’s just part of being an engineer. And at the heart of it is a wonderful group of people.”

More women urged to pursue career in engineering

She added: “National Engineering Day is so important as it’s about breaking some of the stereotypes and celebrating people.

“Engineering is about using our skills and knowledge to solve the problems of the world. It’s a shame that many people still view it as being dirty, mechanical work but that’s such a small part of it.

“Too often we think about equipment and technology as engineering but it’s the people behind it who are problem-solving, analysing, diagnosing, repairing by using their skills and knowledge that are the heart of engineering.

“I also want to use my platform, as Commanding Officer of HMS Sultan, to encourage more women to see engineering as a possible career. There’s so many opportunities and incredible experiences that happen in the world of engineering.”

Every Commanding Officer of HMS Sultan is from the engineering branch and Capt Deakin feels honoured to carry on that tradition.

She added: “I am really proud to be part of the rich history of engineers who have become commanding officer of Sultan. It’s a great group to be a member of.

“My career has had many highlights from being at the handover of Hong Kong in 1997, to serving in Afghanistan and being the Chief Air Engineer in the Royal Navy. But this job, being commanding officer of Sultan, is the one I really wanted.

“Sultan feels like home to me and there is nothing more inspiring than developing our future of engineers. It’s not all done here but everyone should feel that engineering has a home and it’s the place most engineers start their career and all are welcome.”

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