Royal Marines fast rope training from a Merlin helicopter. Credit: LPhot Kyle Heller, Crown Copyright
Navy

What Does It Take For A Woman To Join The Royal Marines?

Do you have what it takes?

Royal Marines fast rope training from a Merlin helicopter. Credit: LPhot Kyle Heller, Crown Copyright

Want To Know What It Takes For A Woman To Join The Royal Marines?

The rigorous training that Royal Marines recruits undergo at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) in Lympstone is widely recognised as some of the toughest and longest of its kind in the world.

Approximately 40% of attendees do not pass the course.

Previously, a freedom of information request revealed that women applying to join the Royal Marines were few in number.  

For those of you who might be thinking of taking the plunge and seeing if you have got what it takes, here are the answers to some of the questions you might not want to ask at the interview.

Physical tests for the Royal Marines are gender-neutral. Credit: Richard White, Crown Copyright
Physical tests for the Royal Marines are gender-neutral. Credit: Richard White, Crown Copyright

How Fit Do Women Need To Be To Join The Royal Marines?

There are three stages to the process and the tests are all gender-neutral.

1Pre-joining Fitness Test (PJFT)

  • requires personnel to complete 2x2.km runs on a treadmill (2% incline). The first has to be completed in under 12.30 mins and the second in under 10.30 mins, following a one-minute break.

2. Potential Royal Marines Course (PRMC) A four-day intense course and includes:

  • 1.5 mile squadded run in 12.30 minutes and then 1.5 mile best effort run (under 11.15 minutes).
  • VO2 shuttle run (Bleep test, min level 10.5).
  • Sit ups (min 60), press ups (min 30), pull ups (min 3).
  • Swimming assessment, including a jump from a 3m board, an 80m swim and retrieving a brick from the bottom of the pool.

3. Basic Training (32 weeks). Towards the end of training there are four commando tests that are pass/fail.

  • Endurance course. These include: ‘two miles of tunnels, pools, streams, bogs, woods, a four mile run and a shooting test.’
  • Nine-mile speed march, completed in 90 minutes, carrying equipment and rifle.
  • Tarzan (aerial) assault course, to be completed in 13 minutes, carrying equipment and rifle.
  • 30-mile march across Dartmoor carrying equipment and rifle, in less than eight hours.
Female Royal Marines will train in the same way as their male counterparts. Credit: PO(Phot) Si Ethell, Crown Copyright
Female Royal Marines will train in the same way as their male counterparts. Credit: PO(Phot) Si Ethell, Crown Copyright

Are There Any Restrictions On The Roles Women Can Apply For?

The full variety of job roles and specialist qualifications are open to men and women.

What Are The Height And Weight Requirements?

A minimum height of 151.5 cm

A minimum weight requirement of 65kg or a minimum BMI of 23.

A maximum BMI of 28 (although some exceptions apply dependent on waist measurement.

Are There Age Restrictions?

Recruits must be between 16-32 at the start of training.

Royal Marine beret and flash. Credit: BFBS
The coveted green beret. Credit: BFBS

Privacy Matters

Although an ethos of gender integration among male and female recruits is wide-reaching, the Armed Forces is sensitive to matters surrounding privacy, not just for women but for men, too. So, while accommodation is mixed at CTCRM, men and women have separate shower and changing facilities, which are also private within those areas to cubicles.  Showers and toilets are, as you would expect, in private and lockable spaces.

What Happens If A Recruit Becomes Pregnant?

For safety and well-being reasons, recruits will be removed from training but will continue to be employed in other roles at CTCRM and will continue to be eligible for the maternity package in line with Defence Policy.

Royal Marines training takes place at Commando Training Centre Royal Marines(CTCRM) in Lympstone. Credit: Richard White, Crown Copyright
Royal Marines training takes place at Commando Training Centre Royal Marines(CTCRM) in Lympstone. Credit: Richard White, Crown Copyright

What Luxuries Are Recruits Allowed To Help Make Training More Comfortable?

Basic Training is deliberately tough. It might be the toughest experience a person has ever endured. And part of that process is learning to operate in a space with little or even no luxuries. However, luxuries tend to be earned collectively. So, for instance, a section of recruits might impress and be rewarded with the use of a section television. More personal luxuries such as free time away from base comes later, but again is something that recruits will earn during training. 

There is light at the end of the training tunnel though, and every member of the Armed Forces will tell you that life at the unit, once fully trained, is completely different to that of the training environment. But remember, every recruit before you has gone through the same process, and you will achieve the goals your instructors set you if you work hard with your fellow recruits. 

Prior to arriving for training, full information on what you can bring with you will be provided. 

Seeing Family

While undergoing training, you will not see family members for at least the first six weeks. However, you will get the chance to spend time at home on leave at various points in your training. Once you are trained and at your unit, most weekends provide an opportunity to visit family if you are not on duty. Of course, members of the armed forces are entitled to annual leave like in any other job. But operations always come first. 

Married members of the Armed Forces are entitled to Service Family Accommodation. This means your partner (and children if you have any) can live with you at or near to your military base. 

What Is The Pay Like?

Contrary to some opinions, pay in the Armed Forces is pretty good when the additional benefits of service life are considered. For example, there's no requirement for expensive gym memberships, private dental care or costly property rentals when you are a member of the Armed Forces. There's also a non-contributory pension and subsidised food and accommodation. 

The current rates of pay, including for recruits, are published online. Check it out. 

Can Recruits Wear Make-up?

Make-up during training is prohibited but ‘discreet make-up’ is allowed once training is complete. There are also certain rules around hair, which apply to everybody. 

Top image. Royal Marines carry out fast rope training from a Merlin helicopter. Credit: LPhot Kyle Heller, Crown Copyright