What is life like on a navy ship

What is life like on a navy ship

It will gratify some of you to know we were going to name this article “every shitty thing that goes down on a US Navy ship” but as we gathered our thoughts and special memories of the occurrences we encountered we decided against it. 

All things considered, we are very grateful to be a part of the world’s most powerful and feared Navy. Obviously, everyone that has served and experienced life on a carrier, cruiser, or submarine has their own perception but what we wanted to accomplish with this post is to share our insights. 

Hopefully, for the people who are maybe researching and looking into joining the Navy will find this article the best resource online and share with friends and family through your social media channels. 

Maybe we might even get some active and veteran Navy to muster up and comment on the experiences they have cultivated. 

First and foremost we would like to establish that we are extremely proud of what we have accomplished in the Navy and believe they were some of the greatest times of our lives. 

Was it difficult and challenging? Absolutely with a capital A but I would like to dole out a bit of motivation to our readers. 

If your goals and aspirations don’t require you to work your ass off and do shit you don’t want to do for years ahead then that thing is probably not worth going after.

As cliche as this quote might be “if it was easy anybody could do it.” 

This is one of our favorite articles at Fleet Sheets that comes from Benjamin P. Hardy of INC. The title is “If It Doesn’t Suck, It’s Not Worth Doing.” He touches on how the SEALS mantra “If it doesn’t suck, we don’t do it” can be applied to real life conditions.

What it basically comes down to is when people feel that they have reached their limits they quit when in actuality only 40% of their potential has been exhausted. 

Sometimes we need a team or unit to help pull that other 60% out of us that we may not be able to do on our own. 

From our perspective, this is an extremely effective attitude to carry especially when you join the Navy.

You see, most people in this world dream, write down goals, and talk about what they want to accomplish.

At Fleet Sheets, we believe the U.S Navy will train and mold you to do the most difficult part of success which is taking any action necessary to execute whether it’s pleasant or not.

If you ask anyone in this world that has pursued and accomplished a substantial goal they will tell you they consistently did the shity task when they didn’t feel like it. 

It is indeed a fact that a very large percentage of people will not get out of their comfort zone to try a new venture and if they do most lack the character necessary to perform the labor most people are not willing to do to make that venture successful. 

Likewise, when most people encounter adversity and rejection they will likely quit but when you go through 4 plus years of Navy life challenges anything else that comes your way will be minuscule to the commitment you honorably fulfilled. 

To counter that people will argue you will learn and develop bad habits serving in the Navy and we definitely can’t argue. Bad habits and influence come with the territory but ultimately it is up to you to develop the disciple necessary to rise higher throughout your service. 

Now that we have your attention let’s dig into this article about what a sailor goes through on a Navy Ship and how they keep their commitment for four years and sometimes longer.

What are the jobs like on a Navy Ship?  


A job in the Navy will probably be one of the most important decisions and activities you will do when you join.

Your job will basically determine the type of lifestyle you will live throughout your time deployed.

Like any other job in the world each assignment has, it’s perks and downside to them. Let’s face reality here as long as you work under someone else you will never have complete freedom of your time.

When you sign on that line to commit your life to your country the U.S. Navy owns your ass. 

The main thing we want to convey in this section is no matter what job you are given every rate in the Navy has its own pride and traditions.

Whatever assignment the Navy dishes out to you have honor in your unit and put 110% into your job and you will be fulfilled. 

We say this because if you're going to be the type that complains and focuses on how hard the work is or how uncomfortable the living situation is you will have a miserable experience throughout your deployment.

On the contrary, if you put your heart into your job and decide no adversity is going to break your spirit a successful career will be the outcome. Create memories that last forever and you will learn more in your 4 years than most people learn in a lifetime. 

Now, all that being said, when you are deployed you will be on duty for long hours and sometimes have to wake up at 0 dark thirty and work 12-14 hours Monday through Saturday. 

Life On A Navy Ship | Fleet Sheets

Can you get stuck with a shitty job? Well, yes, of course, you can.

Nevertheless, if you have not yet committed to the Navy and contemplating joining we encourage you to do the research.

The worst thing you can possibly do is go in blind and kind of float along. There are a lot of online resources to get you familiar with the Navy workforce and how you can take full advantage.

As for the actual jobs in the Navy, we are not going to list every single one here because there are literally hundreds but we noted a link below plus itemized a couple actions you can follow that may help:

  • Research all the different jobs available here U.S. Navy jobs.
  • Read blogs and watch videos of all the resources out there.
  • Ask people you know who have military experience.
  • What interest you and can you leverage the Navy to train you in that field?
  • What does your future look like after you have served in the Navy?
  • What will your financial circumstances look like after your Navy service is over? 

A well thought out and written plan of action will ensure you are not simply drifting with no intended goal or target in mind. This will set you in the right direction and help you to get the most out of what the Navy has to offer.

Like Zig Ziglar said, ”If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”

What will I be paid while living on a Navy Ship?

Military Pay Chart 2022 | Fleet Sheets

To most of us, it is clear that your pay with be in direct proportion to your rank and the years of service you have dedicated.

Performance is another factor when it comes to bonuses or promotions so like we were mentioning above learning as much as you can as fast as you can and giving 110% to your job should be your objective. 

Too often people enter the Navy or any other type of military branch and have an insufficient focus that derails any chance of them succeeding. 

If you're seeking good advice we would advise you to be aware of the people you surround yourself with. Do your best to not associate with the naysayers and unmotivated.    

Dedication to your job, going balls to the wall, and maintaining an open mind can lead you to get ahead financially when you cash in on the financial benefits the Navy offers.

Will you become a millionaire? Probably not in your years enlisted but if you carry out a solid financial plan you will be beyond most people your age.  

If you would like to know the actual ranking pay system works you can check out here: U.S. Navy enlisted pay.

Deployment pay

Your schedule and life will drastically change when on deployment. The Navy deploys all over the world for many reasons and this will be your chance to tour foreign countries when ships port. 

The Navy Times did write an updated report about long-term deployment pay that you can check out.

All the same, the Navy pays like any other job but there are extra incentives when you deploy such as:

  1. Free food
  2. Food allowance
  3. Additional daily pay.
  4. Gain more hours of work. 12-14 hours which equals to larger paychecks. 
  5. You don’t pay for anything on deployment so you can save everything if you choose.
  6. Hazards pay
  7. Family separation pay

Overseas allowance

The overseas housing allowance (OHA) is an incentive if you live overseas at private housing. For instance, if you reside on an overseas Navy base you will most likely qualify for OHA. 

This will compensate all of your housing costs like rent, utilities, and other recurring costs that you may be responsible for.  

Tax benefits

Serving in the U.S. Navy or any other military branch has its perks especially with Uncle Sam. Your good ol Uncle Sam understands you are making a sacrifice for our country so he rewards that sacrifice.

When you do file taxes speak with a tax professional that has experience with military clients. There are many programs, extensions, and advantages your spouse can capitalize on.

For example, if you and your family are stationed in a state your spouse has the option to file in the previous state they lived in. You can look more into this at the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act

What is the food like?

Navy Mess Hall Humor Meme

To be absolutely honest just like your pay the quality of food will depend on your rank. On some ships, officers have their own cooks and food.

Your Chiefs E-7 will have access to the Chief's mess and so and so forth. It’ all about your rank.

That being said don’t expect anything special. Our advice would to eat clean and stay away from the junk that is available to keep you sharp between the ears.

One thing is for sure there is always enough to go around but standing in the long lines can be a bitch, to say the least. 

When your ship is in port it is stocked with fresh food all day long and stockpiled right before it’s about to be deployed. The fact is if the ship is going out for a long period of time on the sea you may lose things like milk and other foods that expire.

If you are serving on destroyers or frigates which can be smaller with fewer people they may serve you breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a mid rat (midnight meal).

On the contrary, if you are on a ship that feeds 3000-5000 there is most likely a buffet type of set up.

Without a doubt, everyone will have different opinions and perceptions of the food on a ship especially if you talk with a veteran that served many moons ago.  


First and foremost, let’s get this out in the air. When you are out on a carrier ship the laundry is probably the most inconvenient thing you will face.

On the flip side of that if you’re serving on a small boy the laundry is more available because there is a lot fewer people trying to wash their clothes and using the water supply. 

Now this being the case a little advice for you. Make it your priority to get in good with whoever is in charge of the laundry. You can even pay them a nice little weekly fee to take care of your laundry for you.

Allow us to explain why. 

You will be responsible for your own area meaning your rack, sheets, clothes, and anything else you bring on board.

Water shortages is part of life on a ship so be ready for the laundry department to be shut down once in awhile. Our advice would be to bring plenty of backups for all items of linen especially underwear and your own fitted rack sheets that pass all shipboard standards.

When water shortages occur you may need to learn how to do laundry in the sink and hang dry your clothes. A real big pain in the ass especially if you enjoy clean linen. 

To add to this section about laundry you most likely will not have the freedom to simply go do your laundry when you please.

On most ships, you will need to put yourself on the laundry list the morning of when you want to use the laundry facilities. On the day you need to do laundry rise early enough to secure a convenient time slot on the laundry list. You don't want your laundry task to interfere with your sleep schedule. 

Remember you will be working 12-hour shifts and it's not ideal to have to do laundry at 2200 hours when you have to be up at 0400 for another 12-hours of fun. 

Do yourself a favor and get a laundry hook up even if it cost you some money. It will definitely make your life a lot easier.

Welcome to life on a Navy ship my friend.

Do you get free time when deployed on a Navy Ship?

Liberty Meme | Fleet Sheets

A common misconception when you’re deployed is that all you do is work, work, work. Well indeed you will be busting your butt by working long hours but you will have a great opportunity to step off the brow from port to port.

Of course, everyone has different personalities and objectives when joining the Navy but you don’t want to be one of those gamers who never steps foot off the ship. 

When your ship ports you usually get a few days to tour whatever country you may be in. This is your chance to see sides of the world that many people in the Unites States will ever be able to.

We would encourage you to take full advantage of this. Times like these are where the unforgettable memories are created and lifelong relationships are developed.

A few suggestions for activities on the ship: 

Although leaving the ship and having a great time with some booze and fun with the opposite sex is always appealing but you need to occupy your time when you're off work and on the ship as well.

We came up with some suggestions that may appeal to you depending on the individual. Check our list below to give you some ideas:

  1. Group entertaining activities like watching a movie on the plasma.
  2. Get a tan
  3. Read up on books that will help you in your career.  
  4. Start a journal**
  5. Figure out how to get on the internet.
  6. Workout
  7. Go to church. Usually a chaplain on board.
  8. Video games

All in all, you will won’t have much free time but you will have an adventure on your hands say the least.

The wrap-up

All things considered, if you’re a sailor you are meant to be out to sea and not on land. Your time out on a U.S. Navy ship although maybe a bit depressing knowing you are leaving for sometimes months at a time but your return will be very rewarding. One thing is for sure that you will come away with a better understanding of the Navy and how the ships work.

We would love to hear from other sailors that have experienced life on the sea with any comments you may have. 

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