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Deck Officer career path

STCW95 International Seafarer Qualifications for Tall Ships & Superyachts

Globally Recognised Qualifications for vessels over 24m

STCW95 stands for "Standards of Training Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers (STCW)".

The 1995 STCW Convention established a baseline standard for the training and education of seafarers throughout the world. It was the first serious  attempt to improve the standard of seafarers all over the world by ensuring each signitory country provides training to a mimimum standard. It is now law and if you want to work on ships or large yachts then STCW95 Basic training modules are essential.

This International certification standard from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has the force of law in all the 154 signatory countries. The convention gives the minimum standards of qualifications required by all crew members at various levels depending upon vessel size. All crew involved in any safety or emergency roll must complete the STCW95 course.

The STCW 95 course and modules form part of the statutory requirements for both deck and engineering qualification. It is a globally recognised qualification for working afloat on boats over 24m.  This includes all private yachts or motor boats over 24m and tall ships over 24m

The STCW 95 can be taken as a complete STCW 95 course over six days or as individual modules. There are four STCW 95 modules that are considered a basic entry level to working at sea:

STCW 95 Personal Survival Techniques

STCW 95 Fire fighting and Fire Prevention

STCW 95 Elementary first Aid

STCW 95 Personal Safety and Social Responsibility

You can achieve these in 6 days - the same time it takes to do a basic RYA Competent Crew, but involves some exciting stuff like putting out real fires in breathing apparatus.


Career ladder for Deck Officers (Yachts & sail training ships)

The stages are Yacht Rating, Officer of the Watch (yacht), Chief Mate and Master. 

To gain yacht rating you need the basic training course certificates above plus qualifying time at sea, with on board training signed off in your record book. 

To gain Officer of the Watch (yacht upto 3000 ton) you need additional courses like Navigation and Radar, General Operators Certificate for radio comms, RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competency, RYA Yachtmaster Ocean theory, Sea Survival, Ship Stability and pass an oral exam.

To gain Chief Officer you need sea time as a OOW, Advanced firefighting, Yachtmaster Ocean Certificate of Competency, Medical Care at Sea.

After that it is Masters Certificate for upto 3000 ton which is a super yacht the size of a cross channel ferry ! There is a new 500 ton Masters Certificate as an interim step which covers many tall ships.


Recording Qualifying Seatime towards Yacht rating or Deck Officer with Classic Sailing:

The sooner you start recording sea time on vessels over 15m the better. Even refit work in port has value.

If you sail on our larger vessels you can usually count it as qualifying seatime if you talk to the mate or Captain and explain what you are trying to achieve. It helps to obtain a Seamans Discharge book or similar seatime record book for your country of origin to be taken seriously. If you are British you will need an upto date MCA (Maritime Coastguard Agency) Training Record Book which you can download from the MCA website. Its a bit like a nautical NVQ where you have to gather evidence of your practical experience at sea. Tasks vary from washing decks to understanding the limitations of trial manourvres using Automated Radar Plotting Aids. You will need to ask very nicely to get officers or skippers to sign off any tasks completed if you are only there as guest crew.

Classic Sailing Vessels over 15m loadline length (sea time requirement)

Annabel J, Provident, Leader

Classic Sailing Vessels over 24m loadline length

Bessie Ellen, Oosterschelde, Soren Larsen, Stavros, Lord Nelson, Barque Europa, Tenacious

Useful Contacts:

MGN Notice for tall ship qualifications & manning levels
Marine Coastguard Agency

UK Sailing Academy that offers the complete course and STCW95 modules

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E.g., 24/04/2018

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