From Nuclear Powered Submarines to Articulated Lorries

Driver Kevin Gomm sitting in his HGv cab

How do Ex-Navy Personnel find the transition to HGV driving? We Interviewed former Royal Navy Submarine Serviceman Kevin Gomm (a lorry driver at Backline Logistics) to find out.


There’s been a lot of attention placed on the haulage industry recently, with the government and logistics companies focussing on bringing fresh new talent into the industry with a massive recruitment drive.


In a bid to change the reputation of the industry and highlight how diverse it can be, we caught up with one of our agency drivers, Kevin Gomm, who used to drive nuclear powered submarines in the Navy but is now enjoying his time behind the wheel of articulated lorries.


Q: How long have you been a truck driver?

A: Right. So I passed my C test in February 2019, so nearly three years ago.


Q: What made you decide to change your career and become a truck driver?

A: Well, I was really running out of time in the Navy. I was approaching my 60th birthday and had been in service for nearly 41 years, so it was time to retire from the Navy but not necessarily retire from working completely.


I wanted something entirely different to do, something that would provide a new challenge. I’m a bit of a petrolhead and always enjoyed driving. Plus, driving a truck is the only thing I’d never driven before, so I decided to give it a go!


Q: How did you find the test process? Some new drivers are put off by the fact they have to self-fund the training process, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for you.

A: I really enjoyed the hgv training side in terms of the theory and practical tests, but the entire process from start to finish was often disjointed and didn’t seem to flow easily, so that’s something that could be improved upon from an industry perspective, but the actual tests were fun.


From an investment perspective, I didn’t personally have to invest too much money into the driving course as I was able to use a resettlement scheme that you get when you leave the Armed Forces.


If you’ve done sufficient time with them within certain areas you gain access to funds from the resettlement scheme. Luckily for me, lorry driving was a skillset that was included within the scheme.


Q: Is Backline the first logistics company that you’ve worked with or have you worked with others previously?


A: No, Backline was the first company I’d approached and arranged a meeting with Tim. He instantly understood what I wanted and knew exactly how my skillset would slot into the business.


He was able to offer me what I wanted and was happy to invest time in a complete novice and allow me to grow. I’ve been with Backline ever since and haven’t ever regretted that decision, they’re a fantastic company to work for.


Q: You’re hired as an agency driver, how does that work?

A: I tend to tell them on a weekly basis when I’m available for work, and they present me with a schedule of jobs that suit me. I’ve been driving for long enough now that I know what I enjoy.


I only work two days per week so enjoying the work is at the top of the priority list! I also love the jobs that are more challenging, which Tim and the team are aware of, so they do their best to offer me the jobs that they know I’ll love to do.


In the early days I took on a lot of different jobs because I didn’t know any different, but now that I know what I enjoy doing, the team will slot me in wherever they can.


Q: What are the particular jobs that you enjoy the most?

A: I thoroughly enjoy the Artic work and I also like the trunk work. I spend most of the time now driving the milk tankers around for Gregory’s, which is brilliant fun. I’ve pretty much delivered to all of the routes that they run, so the drive is much more familiar now, which makes it more enjoyable.


Q: What advice would you give to anybody else who is maybe coming toward retirement age in their career? What would you say to them about becoming a lorry driver?

A: If they’re like me and they want to do something completely different and they enjoy driving then they should try it, because they might find that they like it.


Don’t be afraid of trying it because it is different. I mean, for me, I was ready to retire from the defence industry but wasn’t quite ready to give up work entirely.


It’s been fascinating to watch the logistics system at work when you’re driving around in your lorry.


With the recent fuel shortages and with foods not being available in supermarkets, I don’t think people really appreciate the transport and logistics industry and all the intricacies involved.


Q What does your family think of the career change?


A: I don’t think they’re surprised because they all know that I’m a petrol head. I just thoroughly enjoy driving.


I’m a biker really, so I’m used to commuting everywhere on a bike in all weathers, so being out on the road is something I really enjoy. One of my sons is a petrol head like me and my wife is too, so it kinda runs in the family to a degree, so they understand.


Q: And finally, how is the family adjusting to you being back at home full time after so many years away at sea?

A: In my early career, in fact, throughout my career, I reckon I’ve spent 75% of those 40 years living and working away from home. Around half of those 40 years were spent at sea and a quarter of it was spent living with the family at home. I was always very keen to establish a stable place called home for the family.


Unlike a lot of people who moved around and shifted from one place to the next every few years, we didn’t do that. I would commute to work and come home to the family at weekends and that’s the way we chose to live. So yes, we did have to make an adjustment once I’d left the Navy, but it’s worked out for the best for us all.


Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Kevin and showcasing that truck driving is a great alternative to retirement, especially when you’re not quite ready to hang up your work boots!


Want to learn more?

Many of the qualities and skills you trained for and developed during military service are highly transferable to a professional driving career. It’s why many of the best HGV drivers are ex-service personnel.


In this article, we explore some of the key reasons why HGV driving could be the ideal career choice for you, and take a look at the pros and cons.

The Ex-Service Personnel’s guide to HGV driving careers