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David Fleming, Sub Lieutenant - Navy
Security, Defence & Law Enforcement

David Fleming, Sub Lieutenant - Navy

David Fleming is a Sub-Lieutenant in the Irish Navy. He joined straight after school and has since achieved a BSc in Nautical Science from Cork Institute of Technology.

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What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?

My decision to apply for the Navy initially, and also choosing the operations branch within the naval service as opposed to taking the engineering path.

Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?

I suppose my grandfather who was a fisherman, he would have influenced my decision towards a career at sea. I am from a rural background by the sea anyway so all my life I would have been in contact with people whose livelihoods were all connected in some way with the sea.

How did you go about getting your current job?

It was a career I was always interested in. I submitted a written application form which I was then selected from and called for interview. On completion of this interview I was then selected and called for a second interview, psychometric testing, medicals and a fitness test. The offer arrived the same day as the CAO offers.

Describe a typical day?

A typical day is not necessarily typical at Sea, a whole range of different tasks need to be undertaken depending on the plan of the day and patrol requirements.

From being responsible for a Navigational Watch to being in charge of a gunnery shoot or leading a boarding party on a fisheries boarding... these are only some of the tasks a Posted Officer at sea is required to do on a daily basis.   Also you are in charge of a division, on my last ship I was responsible for 23 people spread over four divisions Seaman’s, Comm’s, Cooks, and Supplies.

Ashore now I am in Charge of a Potential NCO’s Course. This is a six month career course where there are 39 students, who on completion of the six months will be promoted from Able rank to Leading Hand Rank.

What are the main tasks and responsibilities?

My main tasks and responsibilities at the moment are a group of 39 servicemen and women who are currently on a Potential NCO's (Non commissioned Officer's) course. This is a career course which is six (6) months in duration, at the end of which successful students will be promoted within there individual branch. I am in charge of this course at the moment, on this course I have a staff of three senior NCO's.

What are the main challenges?

The challenges are many and varied, again any number can arise during a patrol or even over a day, from someone in your division who faces a domestic problem that needs advice/help, adverse weather or a search and rescue situation which requires everyone’s complete concentration.

What's cool?

Anything with a bit of adrenalin attached is cool. Whether it is boarding a trawler in very bad weather, a gunnery shoot, exercising ships gunners. Approaching a port with a large concentration of traffic, anything that is challenging really.

Also the opportunity to travel the world, though my career to date I have been lucky enough to have been to many different places, from Singapore to L.A. Argentina, Hong Kong, India and Egypt.

What's not so cool?

The time away from home is definitely an endurance. It can be hard at times to be away especially if something has happened at home or even missing a family event. But that being said, If it is something very important or an emergency of some kind, relief’s will be made available and time off granted

What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?

I believe that I am dedicated, loyal and hardworking. Also I am able to think quickly on my feet and make sound judgements when it is required. These are qualities that I believe are necessary for a career at sea.

What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?

For my Leaving Certificate I took the subjects, French, Geography and Business. Prior to applying for my cadetship I found out that I required a Science subject which I took up in my Leaving Certificate. 

A lot of my training and education through the Navy todate has been Maths and Science based particularly Physics. If I had a choice again I would have gone down this line in school to give me a better foundation. The subjects I chose just made everything slightly harder.

What is your education to date?

I completed my Leaving Certificate in 2000 and commenced my cadetship. The bulk of a cadetship is academic with numerous exams during the two years on wide ranging subjects such as Applied Nautical Science to Chartwork to Spherical Trigonometry.

On commissioning in 2002 I commenced a three year degree in Nautical Science. I now have a Bsc in Nautical Science from CIT. I also have a Sub Lt Gunnery Officers course completed and my Naval Watch Keeping Certificate.

What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?

All of it is relevant from everything I did in school even subjects that you would not think are relevant such as business. A lot of a gunnery officer’s work at sea is the accountancy of ammunition!

What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?

My Commissioning as a Naval Officer. Receiving my degree, and merchant qualifications. Also taking over and completing my first two year rotation as a posted officer at Sea.

What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?

I believe that I have a good sense of humour,  am patient, and am approachable and decisive

What is your dream job?

That’s a hard question something with lots of money and no problems.

Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?

While ashore, yes there are very little restrictions on my lifestyle. I am married and play both hurling and football for my local GAA Club Barryroe so therefore I enjoy a good work life balance.

However, while on my Sea Rotation (which ended just over two weeks ago) this obviously becomes more difficult. Being at Sea and away from home for four week periods makes any lifestyle difficult for myself and of course my family. But that’s the career I chose.

What advice would you give to someone considering this job?

Learn about the Naval Service – look at the website, visit a ship alongside a port when they are open to the public, talk to any friends/family in the Naval Service, ring the Recruiting Office.

What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?

Again I would have to say resilience, decisiveness and being organised.

Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?

Yes of course as technology is constantly changing especially in global positioning systems and communications equipment constant training is needed.

Also, courses in health and safety, risk management and human resourses are very important these days.

What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?

Naval Service Reserve – Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Limerick

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