Alumni Profile: Aaron Watson, submariner
From a young age, Aaron had an interest in the Armed Forces and was also inspired by many family members who served in the Navy and Army. He decided he wanted to do something different that not many people can say they have experienced. After completing his A-levels in Business Studies, History, DT and Biology, Aaron joined the navy as a submariner and we are delighted to find out more about his role and his advice for students who may be considering a career with the Military.
When did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in the navy?
Shortly after finishing my A-levels, although I always had an interest in a career in the armed forces from a young age and wanted to join the Army to start with. I decided I wanted to do something different that not many people can say they have experienced. The Submarine Service was a no-brainer for me, it’s a very exclusive club. The pay is also much higher than it would be for someone of the equivalent rank on a ship or another service, so that certainly helped sway my decision!
What inspired you to join the navy?
My great uncle served on ships in the Royal Navy during the second world war, he volunteered to join submarines but couldn’t due to medical reasons, this inspired me a lot. I really wanted to see if I could be as brave as him, as it was a particularly horrible time to be submariner back then! A documentary entitled ‘Royal Navy Submarine Mission’ on Channel 5 many years ago also inspired me. It followed a deployment on board HMS Turbulent and gave me a good insight into the camaraderie and trust people have for each other on board- we really do become one big (sometimes) happy family.
Do you have any military connections in your family?
Yes, my older brother is in the Army, serving with the Yorkshire Regiment. My Dad and Grandad also served in the same regiment.
Did you join the navy straight from school or did you go to college/university first?
I did A-levels first. I never had any intention of going to university, I really just wanted to start earning money and gaining valuable experience straight away.
What rank did you join up as, what rank are you now?
I joined as a rating and started as an Able Rate 2 (Private Equivalent); I am now a Leading Hand (Corporal Equivalent).
What is your role in the navy?
My role as a Weapons Engineer (Submariner) is to operate and maintain the UK’s Trident 2 D5 Strategic Weapon System onboard Vanguard Class Submarines.
Are you responsible for any people?
Yes, I am responsible for the Able Rates within the department.
What advice would you give a student who is considering a career in the navy?
My advice is to spend a lot of time in the careers office and get as much information as possible, so you can choose the best career path for yourself. Also, keep an open mind, you may have your heart set on one thing, when actually another role might suit you better. I wish I’d gone on ships to see more of the world first before joining the Submarine Service. If you’re interested in engineering and thinking of going to university, it’s possible to get a degree with the Navy. You get paid a full salary whilst doing it in order to become an engineering officer, but you would need to join as a rating first. Engineering ratings, such as myself, can achieve a foundation degree upon being promoted to PO (Sergeant equivalent).
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The job security, pay and benefits. The Navy paid for most of my deposit to buy my first house and even helped me find the best deal for my mortgage. The trip to the USA on a submarine was a highlight, where we stayed for several months.