Changes to UK MCA sea service verification and yacht deck officer route

The MCA and RYA have announced changes to sea service verification and the yacht deck officer route. The changes were stated at the PYA SeaChanges seminar during the 2016 Monaco Yacht Show.

Sea service verification

It is very likely that from 1 January 2017 the MCA will delegate the verification of testimonials for sea service obtained on yachts to both the PYA and Nautilus. This will apply to all sea service obtained on yachts regardless of department (deck, engineering, ETO), the size of the yacht, and whether it is required for a yacht-restricted or an unlimited certificate of competency.

Candidates will still need to send the Notice of Eligibility (NoE) application to the MCA but can now be safe in the knowledge that the service has been verified already beforehand, hence eliminating the risk of submitting service which may not be accepted.

It will also make the processing of the NoEs a lot less laborious for the MCA.

Alternative route to OOW (Yachts less than 3,000GT)

Because the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore certificate of competency is a command certificate for a small craft, the RYA insists that at least half of the qualifying 2,500 nautical miles have been completed on a small yacht under 24m and 200GT. This may however ‘block’ deckhands, who have obtained all their sea time on large yachts, from progressing their career to an OOW (Yachts less than 3,000GT).

The MCA has therefore created an alternative route: instead of a RYA Yachtmaster Offshore, a RYA Yachtmaster Coastal will now be sufficient as an entry requirement for the OOW (Yachts less than 3,000GT).

The following will be required to obtain the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal:

  • RYA Yachtmaster Coastal/Offshore shore based theory course and exam,
  • RYA Yachtmaster Coastal practical course,
  • RYA Yachtmaster Coastal practical exam prep course (recommended), and
  • 400nm, 20 days, two days as skipper, 12 night hours on a yacht less 24m and 200GT (the miles obtained on the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal practical course and the exam prep course count towards the 400nm, as may some of the tender driving time)
  • RYA Yachtmaster Coastal practical exam.

It is felt that this solution will ease the burden for candidates who have done all of their service on superyachts to progress to their OOW.

In order to obtain the MCA Chief Mate (Yachts less than 3,000GT) candidates still need to meet the RYA Yachtmaster Ocean requirements for the qualifying ocean passage, complete the RYA Yachtmaster Ocean shore based theory course, and pass the RYA Yachtmaster Ocean oral exam. Candidates who have ‘only’ done the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal will still be able to progress to Chief Mate, however will not be issued the RYA Yachtmaster Ocean certificate of competency (for which a RYA Yachtmaster Offshore CoC is required).

There will similar arrangements for the International Yacht Training (IYT) equivalent CoCs.

This change is likely to come into force 1 January 2017, and it is expected that it will soon be announced in a MIN.

Reminder: Efficient Deck Hand

From 1 January 2017, all deck hands progressing towards OOW (Yachts, less than 3,000GT) must have held the Efficient Deck Hand (EDH) certificate for at least 18 months before the OOW certificate of competency will be issued – a great incentive to complete the EDH course.