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What is a Naval Service Officer (Cadet)


What is a Naval Service Officer Cadet?

A Naval Cadet enlists for a Cadetship to become an Officer in the Defence Forces. After successfully completing the Cadet Training Course in the Naval Service College, a Naval Cadet is commissioned into the Officer Ranks of the Naval Service as a Ensign or Sub Lieutenant.

Who we want

Officers are the managers, decision makers and leaders of the Defence Forces. A Naval Service Officer specialises in Operations Branch or Engineering Branch. The role comes with very real physical and mental challenges, with Officers being expected to lead from the front in all situations. A Naval Service Cadet engages in a course of training of approximately two years duration divided into different stages. The first year is spent in military training at the Naval Base in Haulbowline, Cork. The second year of the cadetship is in accordance with the National Maritime College of Ireland course prescribed for the cadets. At the end of the second year and on completion of exams, and a Sea Term, the cadets will be qualified for the award of a commission in the Permanent Defence Force and will be competent to carry out those duties required of an Ensign in the Naval Service.

The Defence Forces is looking for people who have:-

The ability to plan, prioritize and organise.

  • The ability to carefully analyse problems, in order to generate appropriate solutions.
  • Clear, concise and effective communication skills.
  • The ability to motivate others and work with a team.
  • Can you do all of this while working in a physically demanding and high pressure environment.

Operations Branch Cadet

Officers of the Operations Branch of the Naval Service are responsible for the efficient running of the ship. It is only from within this Branch that an officer may become Captain of a ship. The Operations Branch Officer’s responsibilities include Bridge Watchkeeping, where they are responsible for the safe navigation of the ship and the safety of the ships company along with the weapons and communications systems onboard. Operations Branch Officers also lead boarding teams in fishery protection and anti-drug running boarding operations and are therefore prime leaders and motivators of the ships company.

Engineering Branch Cadet

The Engineering Branch Cadet will be trained to a level whereby he/she can fill an appointment as a ships’ Marine Engineering Officer. The Engineering Officer is responsible for everything that keeps a ship afloat, moving and habitable. This includes the hull and general structures of the ship, its main engines and all auxiliary machinery, the main electrical generators, the electrical distribution system, the air conditioning, ventilation, heating systems and cold rooms as well as all fuel and water systems. It also includes the computer systems for communications, navigation and weapons control systems.

Electrical Engineering Cadet

Please see current terms and conditions for educational requirements.

Download the  2023 Naval Service Terms and Conditions


To find out if you have the Minimum Qualifications required to apply for a Cadetship in the Naval Service download the 2023 Qualifications Information

Take Note: Additional Education maybe required during a Cadet Competition and these will be listed in the Terms and Conditions for that competition.

Age Limitations

Be 18 years of age or over and under 26 years of age on the date mentioned in the notice for the current competition.


The Officer Cadet Competition is held annually and is the only way for potential candidates to join the Defence Forces to become a Naval Service Officer. Candidates undergo psychometric and fitness testing, an interview and a medical exam.

Candidates who are invited to interview will be required to complete and sign a Garda Vetting Application Form that, pursuant to Section 8 of the Data Protection Act, 1988, will authorise the Garda Síochána to furnish to the Defence Forces either, a statement that there are no convictions recorded against a candidate, or a statement of convictions, as the case may be. The Induction Process will determine if you have the potential to lead troops as a Naval Service Officer.


The purpose of cadet training is to develop character and leadership skills and instil a sense of duty and responsibility in the cadet. To benefit from that training, which is conducted in an environment of strict discipline, the cadet needs mental acuity and physical agility. During 2 years of training a Naval Service Cadet masters basic military skills, such as rifle marksmanship, as well as developing the leadership skills required of a Naval Service Officer. The second year of the cadetship is in accordance with the National Maritime College of Ireland course prescribed for the cadets. On commissioning the new Officer takes up a leadership role on a Naval Service vessel.

Third Level Education

On successful completion of the first year of training, Naval Service cadets spend the second year of the cadetship studying for a degree at the National Maritime College of Ireland.

2023 Terms & Conditions

Cadetship 2023 Apply Now 

View the 2023 Cadetship Timeline