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Becoming an Officer of the Watch (OOW)

If you are working as a Deckhand on a large yacht and are looking for a path through to Officer of the Watch 3000GT, it can be unclear what the best route is to take.

The Pathway to OOW

Assuming you have completed your Basic STCW Training and are busy working on a yacht, the next stage to becoming an Officer of the Watch would be to get your RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence.

The MCA produced a Merchant Shipping Notice, MSN 1858 to advise Seafarers of the route to Officer of the Watch for Deck Officers on large yachts. It is worth taking the time to read MSN 1858, specifically section 3.3 on page 6 which details the prerequisites for Officer of the Watch (yachts) less than 3000GT.

RYA Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate

Getting the Yachtmaster Offshore certificate should be the first thing on your list to become an Officer of the Watch.

Small group training

It’s a qualification required by all crew on the route to Officer of the Watch. The prerequisites for the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore is a minimum of 50 days at sea and 2,500 sea miles within the last 10 years.

The RYA measure miles sailed where as the MCA measure time at sea.

If you hold the RYA Yachtmaster Power Offshore certificate then you are eligible to enroll on the Efficient Deckhand Course, one of the prerequisite qualifications for Officer of the Watch.

Efficient Deckhand Course

The Efficient Deckhand Course (EDH) is a one week course that teaches the seafarer both the practical and theoretical knowledge to be an Efficient Deck Hand onboard a large vessel. You will learn everything from Morse Code to Wire Splicing.

Seafarers on the route to Officer of the Watch must, in addition to all the MCA ancillary modules below, have successfully completed a shore-based Yachtmaster Offshore Course like the RYA Yachtmaster Theory.

Since 2017 candidates must hold the EDH certificate for 18 months before they can sit their Oral exam for OOW 3000GT. So, the sooner you complete the EDH course the better.

Officer of the watch

So I have my Yachtmaster, Theory and EDH. What’s next?

You have your RYA Yachtmater Offshore, RYA Yachtmaster Theory and Efficient Deckhand under your belt. During the next 18 months or so you are able to complete your Training Record book and all the other ancillary courses required for OOW.

What qualifications are required for Officer of the Watch?

As well as time spent onboard building sea time and experience there are a number of shore based practical and theory courses that you will need to complete before sitting the Oral exam and becoming an Officer.

QualificationsRequired for Officer of the Watch
STCW Basic Safety TrainingYes
Proficiency in Security awarenessYes
Proficiency in Designated Security Duties
(PDSD)
Normally required on vessels over
500GT
6 months sea service Yes
RYA Yachtmaster OffshoreYes
RYA Yachtmaster TheoryYes
36 Months onboard yacht service on vessels over
15m, including 365 days at sea. See section 4.2
for definitions
Efficient Deck Hand Yes
Proficiency in survival craft &
Rescue boats
Yes
Navigation and RadarYes
General Ships KnowledgeYes
HELM OperationalYes
GMDSS GOCYes
ECDISYes

Do I need a training record book?

All Seafarers who are working towards their Officer of the Watch must complete the Training record book.

Part of the seafarer training are a series of shore-based courses listed above and onboard sea service.

The Training Record Book forms an integral part of your training. Once complete you will present the Training Record Book to the MCA examiner during your Oral exam for Officer of the Watch.

Should I complete a Sea Service Testimonial?

Yes. A Sea Service Testimonial provides proof of time spent on board along with actual sea service.

The Testimonial will need to be signed by your Captain, you can not self certify. You are also required to verify your sea service.

All Testimonials will require verification by an independent body. This responsibility has been passed to the PYA and Nautilus International.

Once I have the required qualifications and sea service what to I do next?

Now you have the qualifying Sea Service, Testimonials that have been signed and Verified. You have completed and passed the shore based theory courses detailed above.

The final stage is to apply to the MCA for what is called a Notice of Eligibility or NoE. The completed NoE says that you have the correct documentation and are ready to sit the Oral exam for the Officer of the Watch.

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