Sea Cadet Corps (United Kingdom)

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Sea Cadet Corps (SCC)
Badge of the Sea Cadet Corps.svg
Founded 1856 (
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Navy
Type Volunteer Youth Organisation
Size 5 vessels
13,710 Cadets[1]
5,230 Cadet Force Adult Volunteers[1]
Headquarters MSSCHQ
Patron Queen Elizabeth II
Motto(s) Ready Aye Ready
Ships TS Royalist
TS Vigilant
TS City Liveryman
TS John Jerwood
TS Jack Petchey
Website Sea Cadet Corps
Captain Captain Philip Russell MA MSc CEng CMarEng FIMarEST MRINA Royal Navy
Ensign Ensign of the Sea Cadet Corps.svg

The Sea Cadet Corps (SCC) is a national youth organisation sponsored by the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence and the Royal Navy. The SCC is the United Kingdom's largest naval cadet force, with over 19,500 cadets and cadet force adult volunteers.[2] Cadets follow similar rates and ranks, traditions, values and ethos as their parent service, the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines. Whilst the SCC is not a pre-service organisation, a significant minority of former Sea Cadets and Royal Marines Cadets do go on to join the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and other branches of the British Armed Forces.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and HRH the Prince of Wales are the patrons of the Sea Cadet Corps, while HRH The Duke of York is the Admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps.


"I promise to serve my God, the Queen, my Country and the Sea Cadet Corps and to obey the orders of my superior officers. I will be proud of my uniform, be smart and seamanlike in wearing it, and always do my duty."

Said by the New Entry, in front of the whole ship's company, before being promoted to Cadet.


The Sea Cadet Corps has one of the longest continuous histories of any youth organisation in the country. The Corps dates back to the Crimean War (1854–1856) when sailors returning home from the campaign formed Naval Lads' Brigades to help orphans in the back streets of sea ports.

Sea Cadets training on HMS Undine, 1943
Sea Cadets practice semaphore during signalling class, 1943

1899 Queen Victoria gave the Windsor unit £10 to purchase uniforms (officially the birthday of the Corps)

The SCC in the UK can be traced back to the Kent port of Whitstable where the first of the Naval Lads' Brigades was established. The success of the brigades in helping disadvantaged youth led to the formation of the Navy League, a national organisation with a membership of 250,000 dedicated to supporting the Royal Navy, which subsequently adopted the Brigades in 1910.

  • 1914: The Navy League applied to the Admiralty for recognition of its 34 Boys' Naval Brigades. This was granted in 1919 subject to an annual efficiency inspection by an officer on the staff of the Admiral Commanding Reserves, and the title Navy League Sea Cadet Corps was adopted.
  • 1937: Lord Nuffield gave £50,000 to fund the relaunch and expansion of the Sea Cadet Corps.
  • 1939: At the start of World War II here were almost 100 Sea Cadet Units in the UK with more than 10,000 Cadets
  • 1940: In June the Navy League purchased an old sailing vessel and renamed her TS Bounty. She was fitted out to accommodate 40 Cadets. In July weekly courses started for Cadets from all Units. These ended in September and the ship closed down.
  • 1941: The shortage of visual and wireless ratings in the Royal Navy led to special three-week training courses being run on board TS Bounty for Sea Cadets, to qualify them more quickly for entry into the RN. This made good use of the training and skills they had already gained in the Cadets and meant a considerable saving in training time for the Admiralty.
  • 1942: The 1941 scheme had caught the Admiralty’s imagination. As a result, the Admiral Commanding Reserves took over the training role, HM King George VI became Admiral of the Corps, Officers were granted appointments in the RNVR and the Corps was renamed the Sea Cadet Corps. A huge expansion to 400 Units and 50,000 Cadets coincided in many towns with Warship Weeks, so the newly formed Unit took the same name as the adopted warship. The Admiralty now paid for uniforms, equipment, travel and training, while the Navy League funded sport and Unit headquarters. In the same year, the Girls' Nautical Training Corps was formed as part of the National Association of Training Corps for Girls, with units mainly in southern England.
  • 1948: The Sea Cadet Council was set up to govern the Corps, with membership from the Navy League and the Royal Navy, and a retired Captain took on the task of supervision, first as Secretary to the Council and later as Captain, Sea Cadet Corps.
  • 1952: HM The Queen became the SCC patron with HRH the Duke of Edinburgh as the Admiral of the Corps
  • 1954: The Commandant General, Royal Marines asked permission to form a Marine Cadet Section that could be fitted into the existing organisation and the Council agreed to this. In December 1954, the first Marine Cadet detachment was opened in Bristol Adventure unit. By 1964 the Section had expanded from the original five Detachments to 40.
  • 1963: The Girls' Nautical Training Corps became affiliated to the Sea Cadet Corps, in many cases sharing the same premises with local Units.
TS Admiral Somers' guard, Bermuda Sea Cadet Corps
  • 1966: TS Bermuda established in the British colony of Bermuda. The first unit of the Bermuda Sea Cadet Corps, an offshoot of the Sea Cadet Corps with identical organisation and operations, administered by the Bermuda Sea Cadet Association. Officers hold honorary Royal Naval Reserve (SCC) commissions.
  • 1972: Juniors were introduced to the Sea Cadets
  • 1976: The Navy League was renamed the Sea Cadet Association since support of the Sea Cadets and Girls’ Nautical Training Corps had become its sole aims.
  • 1980: The admission of girls into the Sea Cadet Corps was approved and the Girls’ Nautical Training Corps ceased to exist as a separate body, but until 1992 was called the Girls’ Nautical Training Contingent.
  • 1999: Centenary parade in Windsor attended by HM The Queen
  • 2004: In November the Sea Cadet Association merged with the world's oldest seafarers' charity The Marine Society to form a new charity The Marine Society & Sea Cadets.

Structure and organisation[edit]

Sea Cadet Corps HQ, Stonehaven
Home of the Sea Cadet Corps, Fishguard
Sea Cadet Corps, New Brighton

National level[edit]

At a National level the Sea Cadets Headquarters (MSSCHQ) are based in South London at 202 Lambeth Road, SE1 7JW. This is where all decision on policy or national regulation are made. Sea Cadet Headquarters is home to the Captain of the Sea Cadets (CSC) who is currently Captain Philip Russell RN. He is also the Director of Operations for the Marine Society and Sea Cadets (MSSC). The MSSC assist in the running of the Sea Cadet Corps in a similar way to that of the MOD for the Royal Navy.

MSSCHQ is made up of a variety of different sections, including:

  • Training: This department deals with National training courses, National competitions, qualifications etc.
  • Department of Education and Adult Learning: Works with the College of the Sea and deals with Cadet Vocational Qualifications, BTECs, Institute of Leadership and Management and other recognised qualifications.
  • Events: Deal with national events such as Trafalgar and Remembrance Celebrations.
  • Headquarters Staff Officers (HQSOs): Members of Sea Cadet staff who are in charge of the training and content of certain subjects taught within the Sea Cadet Corps. Usually based in individual units, but responsible to MSSCHQ for the running of their discipline.
  • Head of Sea Training: Responsible for the running of the offshore fleet.

Area level[edit]

The country is divided into six areas which are:

  • Eastern (also including Malta)
  • Northern (also including Northern Ireland and Bermuda)
  • Southern
  • North West
  • London
  • South West (also including the Falklands)

Each area has an Area Officer (AO) who is a serving Royal Navy Commander or, occasionally, a Royal Marine Lieutenant Colonel serving on a Full Time Reserve Service contract.

In addition to the AO each area also has:

  • An Area Operations Manager (AOM)
  • An Area Logistics Officer (ALO) - in charge of stores and MOD(N) issued equipment and mustering unit's stores once a year
  • An Area Training Officer (ATO) - in charge of area level training
  • An Area Business Manager - in charge of financials and point of contact for Unit Management Committees
  • An Area Staff Officer (ASO) for each discipline - responsible for controlling that discipline in the area and reporting to HQSO and AO.
  • A Senior Staff Officer (SSO) - the most senior SCC officer in the area, assists the AO, manages Area Office and ASOs.

District level[edit]

Each area is subdivided into districts of between five and twelve units. In charge of each district is a District Officer (DO) who is normally a Lieutenant Commander(SCC) RNR. Each district also has a Deputy District Officer (DDO) or an Assistant District Officer (ADO), as well as District Training Officers. These positions are staffed by volunteers. Some districts have District Staff Officers (DSO) responsible for overseeing various specialisations at a District level.

Unit level[edit]

Each unit or Training Ship (TS), is commanded by a Commanding Officer (CO) or Officer in Charge (OiC), assisted by the 1st Lieutenant, who serves as the units second in command. Some units also have a Royal Marines Cadets Detachment, headed by a Detachment Commander (DC).

Units also have staff assigned to different roles within the unit to assist in the day-to-day running. Units could also have a Training Officer, who is in charge of overseeing the training given with the unit. An Admin Officer, in charge of the paperwork within a unit, and booking cadets on courses. Or a Boats Officer, who is in charge of the running and maintenance of the units boats.


The joining age for Sea Cadets is from their 10th birthday, up to their 18th birthday, of all backgrounds. The SCC is an equal opportunities organisation, and take young people from all walks of life. The cadets can be split into four distinct sections.

HM Queen Elizabeth II and Admiral Sir Jonathon Band in 2006 to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the Marine Society and Sea Cadets

Sea Cadets[edit]

Sea Cadets are by far the biggest section. Their training is based around the traditions of the Royal Navy, and in the summer they spend a large amount of time boating on the water. The Sea Cadets is open to anyone aged from 12 to 18.

Junior Cadet section[edit]

Most Sea Cadet units also have a Junior Cadet section for the 10- to 12-year-olds. Junior Cadets have their own training programme and uniform. It is based around a more practical and fun version of the Sea Cadet training programme, but designed for a younger audience. When Junior Sea Cadets turn 12, they may become Sea Cadets either permanently or for 9 months until they reach the age necessary for the Royal Marine Cadets.

Royal Marines Cadets[edit]

Some Sea Cadet units have a Royal Marines Cadet detachment. It can be joined by any cadet aged 13 years old. Its training is based on the Royal Marines, and is more physically demanding than the training of the Sea Cadets, hence the higher age limit.

Adult volunteers[edit]

These people are the heart of the operations of a Sea Cadet unit. To be an adult volunteer you must be over 18. Adult volunteers instruct the cadets at the unit night to night. A Unit Management Team, run the unit from behind the scenes. They control the funds of the unit, and manage the major maintenance that is needed. These are usually staffed by people that wish to help their local unit, such as local councillors or business owners. Some units have a Parents and Supporters Association. These people are usually parents of the cadets which help with fundraising for the unit, or minor maintenance task within a unit. They do not instruct the cadets on a parade night.

Royal Marines Cadets[edit]

Royal Marines Cadets are a sub branch of the Sea Cadet Corps which created in 1955 on command of the Captain General Royal Marines and the Commandant General Royal Marines to be a detachment of the sea cadet corps, similar to the structure of the Royal Marines as part of the Royal Navy. The first Marine Cadet detachment was opened in Bristol Adventure unit. Marine Cadets was formed for ‘..sturdy, adventurous boys…’. Sea Cadet units may open a Royal Marines Cadets Detachment, who will use the same facilities, parade alongside Sea Cadets and fall under the command of the units CO. Royal Marines Cadet detachments wear the uniform of the Royal Marines with the exception of Commando qualification badges, and follow a much more land-based training programme, with emphasis on subjects such as Weapons Handling, Mapwork and Fieldcraft.

Female Royal Marine Cadet, 2008

The main differences between the Army Cadet Force and Royal Marines Cadets are:

  • Uniform: The ACF are primarily only issued with MTP Uniform, whereas the RMC are issued with a number 1 uniform along with other uniforms.
  • RMC cadets are also able to take part in normal SCC training, including all boating activities, providing in effect a much larger range of activities.

Cadets or adult staff wear the Royal Marines blue beret, with red tombstone patch behind the cap badge. RMC Staff who have completed either Royal Marines Commando training, or the All Arms Commando Course at CTCRM Lympstone, are entitled to wear the Commando Green Beret, subject to written permission from the SRMO. Few detachments are Male only due to staffing limitations, however the majority also take female Royal Marines Cadets. SCCdetachments of Royal Marines Cadets are not to be confused with the three Divisions of the Royal Marines Volunteer Cadet Corps. The RMVCC is however part of the wider Royal Marines Cadet family alongside their SCC and CCF counterparts.

National level[edit]

The operational head of the RMC is the Staff Royal Marines Officer (SRMO), who is a serving Royal Marines Colour Sergeant on secondment to the SCC. He is responsible for overseeing the running of the RMC and reporting to the CSC. He is one of the main assessors at each Company's CATSEA (Company Annual Training & Safety Efficiency Appraisal). The current SRMO is Colour Sgt Paul Allen RM.

The SRMO is assisted by the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM), who is the most senior Warrant Officer within the RMC. The current RSM is WO1(SCC) Glyn Robinson RMR and is also the Royal Marines Cadets Training Officer (RMCTO) at MSSCHQ.

Company level[edit]

The Royal Marines Cadet Section was formed in 1955 at the request of the Commandant General Royal Marines. Although it is an integral part of the Sea Cadet Corps, it looks to the Corps of Royal Marines for its styles and standards of dress, drill and training.

Companies cover the same area as the Sea Cadet "Area", and each is identified by a phonetic letter.

  • SCCHQ - Command Company
  • Northern - Yankee Company
  • North West - Bravo Company
  • Eastern - X-Ray Company
  • South West - Alpha Company
  • Southern - Zulu Company
  • London - Lima Company

Each company has a company commander, usually a major (SCC) RMR, who was formerly considered an ASO for Marine Cadets. In addition, Coys may include:

  • Company 2i/c - second in command - organisation of the coy and officer development
  • Company sergeant major (CSM)
  • Company drill leader
  • Company medic
  • Company quartermaster (CQMS) - organises company stores.

Troop level[edit]

Since not every unit has a Royal Marines Cadet Detachment, using Sea Cadet Districts would result in Troops with one detachment or none. As such, Troop borders, are independent and cross District boundaries. There are several Troops in a Company, and are numbered 1 Troop, 2 Troop etc. Each troop has a Troop Commander and Troop Sergeant. The Troop Commander and Troop Sergeant organise Troop level training and are primarily responsible for the standard of the Detachments in their designated area.

Detachment level[edit]

Part of a Sea Cadet Unit. Commanded by a Detachment Commander (formerly OCMCD - Officer Commanding Marines Cadets Detachment).

Gibraltar Cup Competition[edit]

The Gibraltar Cup was presented by the Commandant General Royal Marines and named from the Battle Honour of that Corps. It is awarded annually to the Royal Marines Cadet Detachment (RMCD) which is considered to have attained the highest standard of all round merit in the previous year.

The aim of the Gibraltar Cup Competition is for the best detachment in each Company to compete for the top award for the Royal Marines Cadets of the Sea Cadet Corps. It is held in March (annually) at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM), Lympstone, Devon.

The Gibraltar Cup Competition comprises a series of challenges, tests and assessments to enable the SRMO to establish which detachment will be the worthy winners of the Gibraltar Cup. While each detachment already nominated is a worthy winner from within its own Company, only a fit, dedicated, well trained and cohesive detachment will take the trophy.

  • Current Holder: Guildford RMCD - Zulu Company (Southern area)
  • Competition Date: Friday 4th - Sunday 6 March 2016


Company Annual Training & Safety Efficiency Appraisal (CATSEA) is established to:

  • Assess the efficiency for all Detachments on a National basis, using a common standard.
  • Enable the SRMO, to have a direct input to training needs based on assessment.
  • Raise standards and provide all RMCD with clear targets to aim for.

The CATSEA is conducted annually by the SRMO and the Headquarters Company Team. This CATSEA is a compulsory event for all Royal Marines Cadet Detachments. CATSEA is completed at Company (Area) level, all Detachments are assessed in the same task and the same stances are completed during the CATSEA weekend. Serving members and commissioned officers in the Royal Marine Commandos and Royal Marine Reserves as well as commissioned officers in the SCC complete the CATSEA assessment in regards to the Sea Cadet HQ guidelines.


A Petty Officer Cadet at Tipner range complex near HMS Excellent with a L98A1 Cadet GP rifle

One of the biggest strengths of the SCC is the breadth of activities it offers both onshore and offshore. Some training is compulsory, but most of it is optional. Cadets are encouraged to take part in as much as possible and to try new things.

Core training[edit]

Core training is the bread and butter of Sea Cadet training, and is directly linked to promotion/advancement. For Sea Cadets it is called Cadet Training Programme (CTP) and involves key skills, and vital knowledge about Corps life, traditions of the Royal Navy, water safety, leadership, care of uniform, health and safety, as well as elements of first aid, seamanship, adventurous training and meteorology. This is mirrored in the Marine Cadets Training, but also for Marines, fieldcraft, campcraft, map-reading, battle drills and weapons handling are included in Core training.

Specialisation and proficiency training[edit]

All the following are on offer to cadets, either at the unit or on district/area/national courses.

A Petty Officer Cadet at Tipner range complex near HMS Excellent with a L98A1 Cadet GP rifle
Specialisations Proficiencies Boatwork
Marine Engineering Drill/Ceremonial Dinghy Sailing
CIS - Communication & Information Systems Meteorology Rowing
Physical Training Band/Musician Kayaking
Catering/Stewarding Adventurous Training Power Boating
Marine Engineering Target Shooting Windsurfing
First Aid Diving Offshore Sailing/Power Boating
Seamanship Piping (Boatswains Call) Canoeing

Cadets can also work towards recognised qualifications including, Duke of Edinburgh's Award and BTEC National Diplomas. These are available in Public Service, BTEC First Diploma in Music and BTEC First Diploma in Engineering (SCC Only).

Many qualifications are run by the Sea Cadets but regulated by external bodies. In these cases, cadets earn independent qualifications that they can take with them outside the Corps. These include Paddlesport, where they can gain PaddlePower or Star Awards through the British Canoe Union (BCU), First Aid, where they can earn St John's Ambulance First Aid awards, Rowing, where they can earn British Rowing (BR) qualifications and Powerboating/Sailing/Windsurfing/Navigation where they can gain Royal Yachting Association (RYA) qualifications. National courses are also held, often on Royal Navy bases and at minimal cost, to teach skills such as leadership and teamwork. Specialist qualification courses include power boating in Scotland, cooking in Preston and fire fighting in Cornwall. There are competitions at varying levels in many of the sports, proficiencies and specializations of the SCC. Competitions start at a District level and progress through to National level.

Ranks and rates[edit]


From new entry through to able cadet, Sea Cadets are promoted based on their completion of various task-based modules under the CTP - Cadet Training Programme. Leading cadets and petty officer cadets are required to attend and pass a promotion board (held at area level or national) before being promoted. Emboldened are senior/non commissioned rates/ranks.

Sea Cadets (Abbr) Royal Marine Cadets (Abbr)
New entry NE Recruit RCT
Cadet Cdt Marine cadet MC
Cadet 1st class Cdt1 No equivalent ----
Ordinary cadet OC Marine cadet 2nd class MC2
Able cadet AC Marine Cadet 1st Class* MC1
Leading cadet LC Cadet corporal Cdt Cpl
Petty officer cadet POC Cadet sergeant Cdt Sgt

At the discretion of the commanding officer of a unit, or district officer, a cadet may be awarded an acting rate should they have completed the majority of the modules required for promotion, or received a partial pass on their promotion board, for example- acting leading cadet (ALC), or acting petty officer cadet (APOC).

  • * High-achieving marine cadet 1st classes can be promoted to the rank of cadet lance corporal by their detachment commander. This is an honorary rank and is not needed for progression up to cadet corporal. However, unlike marine cadet 1st class, cadet lance corporal is considered a junior non-commissioned officer rank, and as such is given more leadership responsibility (equivalent of midway between able cadet and leading cadet).
Junior Sea Cadets
  • Junior cadet
  • Junior cadet 1st class
  • Leading junior cadet