Navy Careers

The mission of the SA Navy is to render a seaward military service. This is achieved through the development, management and maintenance of an ability to provide maritime operations, assistance and support operations, hydrographical services and supporting services. Highly trained and motivated personnel are necessary to achieve this aim.

There are many career opportunities offered in the SA Navy, for both commissioned and non-commissioned officers.

Officers: direct and control the various parts of the branches of the SA Navy. They are grouped into the following categories: Combat officers, intelligence officers, personnel officers, finance officers, stores officers, engineering officers and naval technical officers. All officers undergo selection.

Combat Officers: are trained to execute the SA Navy’s primary function: maritime warfare. These officers lead the SA Navy’s combat element and ensure that the Navy’s complex computerised weapons and their related systems are used effectively. Training focuses on maritime warfare.

Combat officers decide during the final months of their training which one of the following specialist branches they would like to join: Mine Counter-measure Flotilla; Strike Craft Flotilla; Submarine Flotilla; Hydrographical Survey; Independent ships, including the Navy’s two replenishment vessels, namely SAS Drakensberg and SAS Outeniqua.

Naval Engineer Officers: are primarily responsible for the design, development and support of the Navy’s weapons, electronic and propulsion services. They study for degrees in either Mechanical or Electrical Engineering at a prescribed university.

Naval Intelligence Officers: gather and evaluate all information regarding matters affecting the SA Navy, in order to ensure maximum efficiency of operations. They also initiate steps to maintain the security of sensitive information.

Personnel Officers: render the following support services: recruiting, placing, training, career advancement and administrative tasks. They also control the SA Navy’s personnel records.

Finance Officers: exercise control over the Navy’s income and expenditure and handle budgetary aspects. The conducting of audits and management of the Navy’s financial system is their responsibility.

Provisioning Administration Officers provide logistical support to the ships at sea and shore establishments by way of supplying the large variety of stores and other items needed to maintain the Navy. The control, accounting and purchasing of items are their responsibility.

Non-Commissioned Officers

Combat operator branch: combat operators help to run ships and operate their weapons and other systems. They are grouped into the following specialisation categories: weapons operators, radar operators, mine countermeasure operators, divers, survey recorders, communications operators, electronic warfare operators, engine-room attendants and physical training instructors.

Technical Branches: highly qualified technical personnel are necessary to control modern warships and maintain the complex equipment they carry. The SA Navy also requires personnel qualified in certain trades, for the supporting services ashore. Branches that serve at sea and ashore for which the SA Navy offers learnerships, are: shipwrights, electronic fitters (radio/radar), electronic fitters (weapons), electronic fitters (machinery), mechanical fitters (machinery), mechanical fitters (weapons), electronic fitters (machinery, submarines), electronic fitters (communication, submarines), mechanical fitters (weapons, submarines) and mechanical fitters (machinery, submarines).

Technical branches that only serve ashore and where only qualified applicants are considered, include riggers, instrument fitters, survival equipment fitters, vehicle fitters, printers, metalsmiths, photographers, painters and sign-writers and tailors.
Supporting Services: these branches are open to men and women, at sea or ashore. It includes the following; intelligence, naval police, personnel, finance, provisioning, and chefs and stewards.

Those who distinguish themselves can rise through the ranks and officers can command ships, submarines, flotillas, divisions and areas.

Personal Requirements

  • not more than 23 years of age
  • South African citizen
  • speak at least two official languages
  • medically fit
  • prepared to undergo selection procedures
  • not suffer from seasickness
  • calm temperament, mentally stable
  • good interpersonal skills and leadership qualities (officers)
  • work well in a team

How to Enter

School Subjects

  • minimum requirement is a Grade 10 Certificate
  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Two official languages and other subjects required depend on whether a degree or diploma course is undertaken: Mathematics and Physical Sciences for Engineering Officers and Combat Officers

Recommended Subjects: Languages

What to Study

Naval College:

Officers: all junior officers who have been accepted, receive their 12 weeks basic orientation and training at the Naval College in Gordon’s Bay in the Western Cape, to gain practical experience. On completion of the basic training, candidates undergo a further selection procedures. Successful candidates continue with Formative Training for Officers Part I. They then proceed with training in their specific direction.

Officers who have the required academic aptitude are sent to the Military Academy to study for their B.Mil. degree, or attend the University of Stellenbosch to be trained as engineers.

Those who wish to become naval technical officers, study diplomas at universities of technology. Later in their careers, officers attend a series of courses at the Naval Staff College in Muizenberg, where they receive training in Management, Strategy and other advanced subjects, in order to qualify them for senior command and staff appointments.

Non-Commissioned Officers: Basic training for all Permanent Force recruits takes place at SAS Saldanha. Technical training takes place at SAS Wingfield. Combat and other non-technical specialist training takes place at SAS Simonsberg in Simons Town. Throughout their careers, Permanent Force members periodically return to these training units, to do more advanced courses.


SA Navy

The naval officer who distinguishes himself can rise through the ranks to command a ship, a submarine, flotillas, divisions and areas.

Further Information

South African Navy Recruiting Centre
Chief of the Navy
Private Bag 104
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 339-4252 / (012) 339-4421

South African National Defence Force (SANDF)
Media Liaison Officer: Department of Defence
Defence Headquarters, Armscor Building
cnr Delmas Avenue and Nossob Streets
Tel: (012) 355-6200

Getting Started

  • arrange to speak to a naval employee about this type of career
  • contact the SA Navy for more information or look at their website

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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