MCA (UK) Deck License Requirements for Ships

Table 2 - Deck Officer Certificate Structure
(PDF Document 24kB)

3.0 Approved Sea Service
3.1 STCW 95 defines seagoing service as time spent on board a ship, relevant to the issue of a certificate or other qualification. The period of sea service required for certification varies with the level of certification and the training programme followed. The minimum requirements for the issue of a deck officer certificate of competency are shown in Table 3 below.
Table 3 Summary of Sea Service Requirements for Certificates of Competency
Unlimited trading area; unlimited ship size Unlimited trading area; ships less than 3,000gt. Near-coastal trading area; ships less than 500gt Near-coastal trading area; ships less than 3,000gt Near-coastal trading area; unlimited ship size Domestic passenger vessels operating in the near-coastal area within a nominated area * 6 months of the last 12 months sea service must have been whilst engaged in bridge watchkeeping duties
3.2 General Requirements for Qualifying Sea Service
3.2.1 The qualifying service specified for any particular deck officer certificate of competency must be performed in the deck department and is reckoned from the date of engagement to the date of discharge. At least 6 months of the qualifying service must have been performed within the 5 years preceding the application. Sea service should normally be performed on merchant ships of at least 24 metres in length or not less than 80gt proceeding to sea. Other sea service may be accepted in lieu of a limited amount of service in specialised ships (see paragraph 3.7) or a limitation may be imposed on the certificate of competency.
3.2.2 Candidates for certification as officer of the navigational watch (OOW) are required to produce a statement from their employers, or the master(s) under whom they have served, that at least 6 of the last 12 months of their sea service have been spent on navigational watchkeeping duties under the supervision of a certificated officer. These duties may include keeping a lookout on the bridge or acting as helmsman but should not generally exceed 2 months out of the required 6 months. Where watchkeeping service is required for other certificates, candidates must provide proof of having served as watchkeeping officer for not less than 8 hours out of every 24 hours service claimed.
3.2.3 Trainee deck officers must produce evidence that an approved training programme (details in Part 8) has been followed, and that all service while on board ship was performed in a satisfactory manner. Not more than 2 months of that service may have been spent standing-by a new vessel during the final stages of construction, in dry dock, or undergoing engine repairs. Candidates who fail to produce satisfactory evidence that they have followed a training programme approved by the MCA may be required to complete an additional period of sea service before being considered eligible for a certificate of competency. Other candidates may claim sea service reduction for attendance on approved training programmes or in recognition of higher academic achievements (see paragraph 3.6.3 below).
3.3 Verification of Service
3.3.1 Entries in a Discharge Book or Certificates of Discharge supported by testimonials will be treated as evidence of sea service. Where there are doubts about the sea service claimed or it cannot be verified as above, it will only be accepted upon written confirmation by some responsible person having personal knowledge of the facts to be established.
3.4 Calculation of Service
3.4.1 Sea service entered in official documents as in paragraph 3.3.1 above, will be reckoned by the calendar month, that is the time included between any given day in any month and the preceding day of the following month, both inclusive. The number of complete months from the commencement of the period, ascertained in this way, should be computed, after which the number of odd days should be counted. The day on which the crew agreement commenced, as well as that on which it terminated, should both be included, all leave of absence excluded and all odd days added together and reckoned at thirty days to the month.

We hear so much talk about the superior training and qualifications of European officers, and about how the Europeans look with skepticism upon the the US training and licensing.

The thing I found most interesting in the MCA license requirements is that the MCA accepts small boat seatime for unlimited licenses — as small as 24 meters in length --or-- 80GT. Wouldn’t 80 GT be about the same as 20 GRT in the US? That’s about a 42’ boat?

I find it very interesting that the MCA will issue unlimited licenses equivalent to 3rd Mate or 2nd Mate and count small boat (including yacht) seatime, but that the USCG won’t count ANY seatime on vessels under 200 GRT (around 500 GT) toward an unlimited license.

Tugsailor, do you know of any USCG lic. mariners who have a European MCA lic. equivalent? Just curious.

I’m not Tugsailor (used to be one though) and know many USCG license holders who have a UK MCA Certificate of equivalent Competence (CeC) based on that license. When I had a 1st ticket I had one. When I got my chief’s ticket I didn’t bother as it was a waste of time and money.

As it turned out I didn’t need it since the only people who do are those who want to sail on a UK flagged vessel. All the other flags in the Red Ensign Group accept a USCG license and will endorse it (sell a separate piece of paper called an endorsement) for service on their vessels.

Steamer, thanks for the swift reply. I am interested in finding out if it’s worth having both licenses. You pretty much answered my query. Thanks again.

I cannot get an unlimited US 3rd mate license, but it appears that I can get the equivalent unlimted UK OOW, so it looks like it might be worth it to me.

The thing I found most interesting in the MCA license requirements is that the MCA accepts small boat seatime for unlimited licenses

That IS very interesting. Tugsailor, IMO, why not go ahead and get the UK MCA for shits and giggles? It certainly won’t hurt you. I had an issue with my tugboat sea time as well. I had to write a reconsideration letter to the USCG. It actually worked in my favor. I did the tonnage calculation and put in the context of the letter…I essentially did the math for them. Look at it as though you are a lawyer and you’re proving your case. If your sea time and tonnage are close to the 3rd unlimited, give it a whirl!! PM me and I will get the letter to you for reference.