Royal Navy Officer Training: BRNC Structure of Command

In order to become a Royal Navy Officer, you’ll need to pass through the Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC). This is a deliberately demanding and difficult process, which will test you to your very limits. However, once you have successfully graduated from the college, you will truly be able to say that you are capable of working within the British Royal Navy.

Naturally, to reflect the real Royal Navy, the BRNC has a highly regimented and ordered structure of hierarchy. If you are thinking of enrolling, or just curious for more information; this blog will tell you all you need to know about the BRNC structure of power.

Who’s at the top of the BRNC Structure?

The command structure at BRNC can sometimes be confusing. To help you out, here’s a handy diagram showing a general overview of the BRNC structure:

the brnc structure is complex and difficult to grasp

So, what does all this mean? Let’s take a look.

Captain BRNC

Captain BRNC is the College’s most senior officer, and is directly in charge of everyone at the College. They are responsible to the Admiralty for the delivery of officers to the Fleet. Similar to a ship’s Captain, their word is law. They are right at the top of the BRNC structure.

Commander BRNC

The Commander of BRNC is responsible to the Captain for areas such as discipline, security, staff and College management and day-to-day running of the College.

Commander (Training)

It is the Commander (Training)’s (CdrT) responsibility to the Captain to oversee training, including the efficient running of the training system, changes to the system of training. This person also has the last say in the event of any failures.

Commander (Resources & Planning)
You may not come into direct contact with this Commander as much as the other two, however, Cdr(R&P) is an important force behind the scenes.

1st Lieutenant

The 1st Lieutenant (1L) is a Lieutenant Commander who is responsible for aiding the Commander in his role. The 1st Lieutenant is normally the first call for security, policing and discipline matters.

Officer Commanding Officer Training (OCOT)

OCOT is a Lieutenant Commander who is responsible to Commander (Training) for the effective running of the training system.


The whole College, including staff and students, is split into two squadrons, Cunningham and St Vincent. The two squadrons enjoy a fierce rivalry, and will compete in sports, exercises and more. As a St. Vincent squadron member I am obliged to point out, with an incredibly heavy bias, that St Vincent is the better of the two.


All cadets will be split down into divisions of roughly 15-20 cadets. The division will be responsible to the Divisional Chief, otherwise known as Divisional Senior Rate, and to the Divisional Officer. Each intake will normally have 4 divisions, split into 2 per squadron. This means that a squadron is likely to contain 4-6 Officer Cadet Divisions across intakes, and 1-2 College Senior Divisions.

Divisional Officer

Your main point of contact with the staff throughout training will be your Divisional Officer. They will be responsible for the discipline, management, welfare and leadership of your division, and will be close by, for better or for worse, throughout every aspect of your training.

Squadron Chief Petty Officers

The St Vincent Squadron Chief (VSC) and Cunningham Squadron Chief (CSC) are responsible for your accommodation, discipline and day-to-day management throughout training. They will be greatly involved during your induction to the College.

Squadron Senior Officers

The St Vincent Senior Officer (VSO) and Cunningham Senior Officer (CSO) oversee the Divisional Officers of all their squadron’s divisions, and are responsible for the effective running, discipline and management of their squadron.

Student and Senior Rankings

The BRNC Structure doesn’t just apply to Officers, but Students too. Below is a breakdown of the Student and Senior rankings:

the brnc structure is multi-layered

The positions are filled by College Seniors, and are responsible for Student management, including representation of the cadets during meetings, handling of some welfare issues, and the handling of divisional weekly reports.

These will be nominated and chosen by the staff, and will have a number of extra responsibilities and privileges, such as a bigger and better room for the College Senior Midshipman/Sub-Lieutenant.

You will come into contact with the Senior Midshipmen/Sub-Lieutenants during the weekly squadron meetings, and when required will need to write up a report on your week’s training, including any problems, so that any concerns or praise can be passed up the chain of command.