United Navy, Army and Air Force Board

A Day in the Life of a Royal Navy Chaplain

Revd Mike Pons

It is easy to say that each day different, yet many days are just a repeat of the day before. Just the same as in any other walk of life. The big difference about a Naval Chaplain is that our job not only takes us around the globe, where we have the opportunity to visit places others might just dream about, but that we work alongside the people we care about. We are accepted as part of the team, but this acceptance is based on the fact that we, like the rest of the ship’s company, spend a lot of time away from home. The narrative below is a typical day in the life of a Chaplain while at sea in the Arabian Gulf.

6:00    Woken up by daily pipe – shower, dress and then breakfast 
           in Senior Rates Dining Hall

7:00    Morning Prayer

7:45    CUB – Command Update Brief with Head of Departments

8:30    Ship Patrol

10:00 Stand Easy (coffee break)

11:30  Circuits (fitness)

12:30 Lunch in Junior Rates Dining Hall

14:00 Ship Patrol

16:00 Cup of Tea time!

18:00 Captain’s Brief

19:00 Dinner in Wardroom

20:00 Ship Patrol

23:00 Head down

Ship Patrol – means that I wander around the ship dropping into each department and talking to people, and more importantly, listening to them.  It means getting involved and ‘walking’ alongside them incarnationally in their daily lives.  This might include watching for sea life on the bridge (be that mammals or boats), washing up or preparing meals in the galley, assisting with training emergencies, e.g. a fire or a flood, spending time in the SCC (Ship’s Control Centre), visiting the Sick Bay,  helping out on the upper deck rubbing down and repainting the ship, spending time in the hangar with the aircrew.

Each day the Chaplain tries to stay in touch with as many of the ship’s company as possible.  That requires flexibility in our routines because the crew will be doing different watches (6 hours on, 6 hours off).

It is a huge privilege to work alongside the ratings and officers and be accepted as part of the team.

Oh and when you have a few moments you take those to prepare a Sunday service….!!