Is it true that everyone who joins the Navy wants to serve the military but are afraid to die in actual combat?

People who aren't afraid to die are either liars or Gurkhas. - Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.

Soldiers don't go out to die. They really don't. They go to serve their country, for a job, for adventure, for a host of reasons.

Do some soldiers sacrifice themselves? Yes but that is a situational thing rather than an objective in life.

Now onto the navy. I think you must be ignorant of the navy but I'll give you a quick history lesson.

Admiral Makarov of the Imperial Russian Navy died when his flagship hit a mine after personally conducting offensive operations against the Japanese Navy during the Russo-Japanese war, he was accompanied by 678 others onboard.

Not good enough?

How about the over 50,000 killed in the Royal Navy and over 45,000 in the US Navy during the second world war?

Want something more recent?

Ok how about HMS Sheffield?....




Hit by Exocet missiles from Argentine aircraft. She sank with 20 men on board and many wounded.

Or how about the numerous Royal Marines and SBS men who have died in combat throughout the years whilst serving under Her Majesty's Naval Service?




Whilst myself and numerous other British Army personnel have joked about the Navy being a glorified ferry service, the truth is they do out their lives on the line too.

Maybe not in the same way so Army soldiers do but also remember for every one person serving in the Combat Arms there is about ten or so serving in the Combat support or combat support services arms.

I hope this helps.

3 Responses to "Is it true that everyone who joins the Navy wants to serve the military but are afraid to die in actual combat?"

Anonymous said...

I've never been in the military but from what I know it's not necessarily safer.

Historically, during the Age of Sail, navies were just as dangerous, if not more so, than armies. Ships crews would be decimated by disease and have to be continuously replenished, with death rates often exceeding 100% (original crew dying, being replaced and then the replacements also dying and being replaced) on a single cruise. Then there were deaths and injuries from accidents and storms which could leave you mutilated and crippled or dead. Then there was combat, naval battles could result in an entire crew being killed or wounded by cannons, muskets, swords, axes, huge splinters, falls etc. Navies were anything but safe.

Of course later motorized ships are safer, accidents are rarer but still happen. And with regards to combat, it's a bit different. If you read about naval battles in WW1, WW2, Falkland War etc. you'll notice that when ships get sunk the majority of the crew tend not to make it. Most of the time you'll read about ships companies of hundreds or thousands and only a dozen survive a sinking, often the entire crew is lost. This is especially the case with submarines. Yes, in the War on Terror a sailor is probably less likely to die in combat than a soldier (though the attack on USS Cole shows it still happens) but against a modern enemy, it's a totally different matter.

In the Falklands War the Argentine air force sank several Royal Navy ships with single anti-ship missiles. And Argentina is a second rate military power. China, Russia or even India with their new scramjet Brahmos anti-ship missiles could potentially wreak untold havoc. If your ship is hit with a scramjet missile travelling at 2,300 mph, you're probably not going to have time to get into a life boat.

Sophia de Trich said...



HA! Are you kidding?

Child, do you have any conception of how horrifying naval combat is? You’re probably envisioning a captain on the bridge or someone else who gets to see what’s actually happening.

No. Try again.

Naval combat is almost entirely about waiting for something horrible to happen to the ship. Some people have battle watches. Everyone else is on casualty control. You sit there, in your big, sweaty, firefighting ensemble waiting for damage to happen and hoping it doesn’t happen near you.

It’s very much like being a trench soldier in WWI. It’s very boring, until you get shelled. Then you just sit there, waiting to… well, ideally, charge into a compartment on fire and probably littered with corpses and put it out or patch a hole in the boat in which water is currently pouring in. Otherwise, you’re waiting to die.

It’s a completely different kind of terrifying.

Brian Baker said...



Everyone is afraid to die in combat. The Navy has a lot of upside in comparison to most branches of the military. If you’re hoping to get job skills that will easily translate into the civilian world the Navy is probably the best branch of the service for you. The air force is close but the Navy simply has more dollars worth of high tech equipment that needs maintenance.

The other upside to the Navy is it’s relatively safe. You have to be a multiple volunteer in order to get yourself regularly put into harms way. Aircrew and SEAL’s primarily are the only Navy personnel who are going to be exposed to enemy fire with any regularity but lots of other positions in the Navy from CB’s (seabees), boarding parties, intelligence and small boat units also have a degree of increased risks.

The majority of positions in every branch of the military have a reasonable degree of safety. Only line infantry units in the Army and Marines are really pretty much guaranteed to go into harms way in war time.