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Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officer

OFFICER | Full Time

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Naval Combat Systems Engineers maintain combat systems in ships and submarines. They are responsible for the leadership and wellbeing of a large team of highly trained technical professionals who perform the systems analysis, fault-finding and maintenance of equipment to ensure peak performance.

The primary role of the Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officer is to provide technical expertise, advice and leadership for the operation and maintenance of the following naval combat systems:

  • Above water and underwater warfare systems and its ammunition
  • Above water and underwater sensor systems
  • Navigation systems
  • Communication systems
  • Command and control systems
  • Data processing systems
  • Electronic warfare systems

Work environment

Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officers are employed in the ships and submarines of the Forces Naval Fleet and at shore-based establishments.

Marine Systems Engineers serve as the Head of the Combat Systems Engineering Department. They deal with the challenges associated with life at sea while leading a large number of personnel. In shore-based establishments, Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officers are employed throughout Canada, primarily in Halifax, Nova Scotia; Victoria, British Columbia; the National Capital Region; and abroad. The range of employment is wide and involves the challenges of understanding present and future technologies. In addition, they are employed in staff, training and administrative positions requiring engineering expertise.

Career Overview




LIEUTENANT NAVY CHRISTINE HYRVE: I'm Lieutenant Navy Christine Hyrve from Edmonton, Alberta. I'm a Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officer currently posted to Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt in British Columbia.

The Royal Canadian Navy deploys regularly to reassure Canada’s allies in the global community as well as to deter those who might wish us harm. This is accomplished using state-of-the-art tracking and weapons systems. Maintenance of these systems is managed by Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officers, who ensure that the ship is always combat-ready.

They lead the Combat Systems Engineering Team, responsible for the operational readiness and maintenance of Naval Weapons, Navigation, Communications, Radar, Sonar, and Command and Control Systems.

LIEUTENANT NAVY CHRISTINE HYRVE: The job of the Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officer is to ensure we are ready to fight anytime. We are responsible for the Combat Systems engineering department and the technicians themselves who are fixing and doing the maintenance on the equipment.

As the officers, we are the managers for the department, ensuring the coordination of all preventative maintenance as well as all parts, and briefing command on all requirements. Our technicians are our authorities on the equipment. We take their advice all the time on issues and how to fix them. However, we are the ones reporting to command and assisting in achieving everything.

Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officers are an integral part of the vessel’s Emergency Response Team, performing important damage control tasks while the ship is at emergency or action stations to ensure that it can still fight.

LIEUTENANT NAVY CHRISTINE HYRVE: What I like most about my job is the variety. It can change from year to year or even day to day on the ship. And I love learning something new. All that I’ve done since I joined the Navy as a Naval Combat Systems engineer has been new to me and I've enjoyed every minute of it.

My favourite experience so far has been the deployment – Operation Projection 2018 – when I deployed with HMCS Calgary. I had the opportunity to go to Australia, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan. It is wonderful when you get to a port and you get to explore. You get to try all the foods – which are so good! – and you get to travel and be a tourist and explore everything, all the different cultures that you wouldn't have normally been exposed to. You get to see everything.

On completion of their military and occupation training, Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officers will be posted to a ship as a junior officer on the Combat Systems Engineering team and learn the ropes of becoming a Combat Systems Engineering Officer.

On board, they are part of the crew, and with that comes additional responsibilities, such as ship evolutions, or being a part of the ship’s Boarding Party or Dive Team. 

For their next posting, Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officers will return ashore to fulfill numerous challenging roles for the Navy. These could include working at a coastal Fleet Maintenance Facility, teaching new engineers at the Naval Fleet Schools, or providing their expert engineering assessments towards new ships and equipment purchases for the future fleet.

These important roles all work to prepare them to take on their most important and challenging role as the head of the Naval Combat Systems Engineering Department on board another ship or submarine.

As their career progresses, Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officers can move into project management or research & development, involved in the design and application of new weapons technologies. There can also be opportunities for engineering specialization through fully funded post-graduate education in Canada or abroad.

LIEUTENANT NAVY CHRISTINE HYRVE: As a Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officer, I feel I have a lot of control over my career. If I wanted to do a masters, I would have the opportunity and it would be supported.

LIEUTENANT NAVY CHRISTINE HYRVE: It's quite amazing when you see all of the systems and weapons come together and everything works out great. You realize that it's been your department, your planning, your people and all of that has been coordinated so well. And then you get to see it just come to fruition and operate smoothly.

I'm really proud of what I've achieved so far – I've been in the Navy for five years and I've had the opportunity to do so much and learn so much, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of my career.

Related Civilian Occupations

  • No directly related civilian jobs


After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 12 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.

Following basic officer training, official second language training may be offered to you. Training could take from two to nine months to complete depending on your ability in your second language.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Naval Combat Systems Engineering Officers attend several courses held at the Canadian Forces Naval Engineering School in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The first course, Naval Engineering Indoctrination, lasts 11 weeks and introduces the systems, equipment and personnel of the two engineering departments of the Fleet. This course includes seven weeks on board a major warship.

The next course, Naval Combat Systems Engineering Applications, lasts 28 weeks and provides detailed instruction in the theory, application, operation, maintenance, personnel and management of Naval Combat Systems Engineering. On completion, officers join the ships of the Fleet for one year in order to consolidate their skills and knowledge of Naval Combat Systems Engineering.

Naval Combat Systems Engineers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Computer software management
  • Guided weapons systems and ammunitions
  • Radar systems analysis
  • Electronic warfare
  • Digital and satellite communications

As they progress in their career, Naval Combat Systems Engineers who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:

  • Combat systems engineering
  • Weapon system engineering
  • Underwater acoustics
  • Naval architecture

Entry plans

If you already have a university degree, the CAF will decide if your academic program matches the criteria for this job and may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military officer qualification training are required before being assigned.

Regular Officer Training Plan

Due to the requirement for CAF officer to obtain a university degree, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a bachelor degree program in the Royal Military College System. Recruits will receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working in the CAF for a period of time. Typically, candidates enter the Canadian Military College System as an Officer Cadet where they study subjects relevant to both their military and academic career. In rare instances, based on the needs of the CAF, candidates may be approved attend another Canadian University. A determination will be made on a case by case basis. If you are applying for this program, you must apply to the CAF and it is recommended to apply to other Canadian universities of your choice should you not be accepted for ROTP.

Learn more about our Paid Education programs here.