This is the problem with these MCA issued “yacht limited” licenses. The MCA, or one of its storefront training school franchises, will issue a 200 ton and up to 3000 ton “license” that is limited for use on yachts. The Red Ensign Group of flags allow for commercial registration of pleasure yachts and issue yacht limited licenses for service on private or commercial registered yachts. Those licenses are not valid for service on any kind of vessel other than a yacht. There is no USCG equivalent and a yacht license is useless for anything other than yacht service.
The sad fact is that anyone can obtain a 200 ton master of yachts license and carry passengers for hire (though they call them guests) on an international voyage after having accumulated a grand total of 55 days seatime. And that “seatime” for yachts does not mean time at sea, standing a watch or working on an underway vessel. Wearing a yacht T-shirt is good enough for most of their license time. Simply being “signed aboard” fulfills most seatime requirements for an MCA yacht license. Somehow, the IMO has signed off on this scam and the “guests” don’t know any better. The MCA issues these licenses up to 3000 tons. It takes more real seatime and training to obtain a USCG AB unilimited than it does to get an MCA 3000 ton yacht master ticket. This begs the question, who bought off the IMO?
What is really amusing and tells something about the quality of the certification is that even the MCA will not accept one of its yacht licenses for coastal service on the same size vessel in UK waters. It is a document designed to market the Red Ensign flag to foreign yacht owners. Again, how the IMO accepts these things is beyond my comprehension.
It is possible for a USCG license holder of 500 tons or more to apply to the MCA for a Certificate of Equivalent Competence (CeC) for their merchant marine license. Depending on the CeC applied for the MCA may require testing on the UKLAP or UK law and procedures. Except for occasional events in Fort Lauderdale, that requires going to the UK for testing. What most yachties don’t realize and the MCA doesn’t talk about is that unless you plan on sailing on a UK flagged commercial ship, you don’t need a CeC or MCA yacht license. Since most yachts are flagged in Caymans or another of the Red Ensign group flags and those maritime administrations recognize a real USCG or other STCW white list license, they will issue their endorsement at the same or often higher license level for service onboard yachts. A 3rd assistant engineer can sail chief on a large yacht.
The USCG might accept the coursework for one of the RYA or IYT licenses as meeting that required for a USCG near coastal or inland license to 200 tons but there is no way that even an MCA 3000 ton yacht master’s license approaches the training and seatime requirements to serve as a USCG AB.
The whole MCA yacht license thing stinks and it is amazing the IMO has given it approval and the USCG allows those holding one to carry charter “guests” in American waters.