So you want to be an Officer?- Yacht Pathway

Updated: Dec 20, 2020

The MCA OOW 3000GT.

The first serious step in your career.

Serious in cost, time commitment, and pressure.

Challenging yes, but with enough time, training and determination, anyone can achieve it.

Please note- this article is focusing on the MCA Yacht pathway. This is not the only pathway, e.g OOW Unlimited, USCG etc so keep an eye out for interviews, workshops and documentation in the Resource centre exploring the other options. The information provided is aimed to ensure you have all the information available to make the best decision for you on your own unique journey.

This article outlines the process.

Follow the links to the She of the Sea Resource page for detailed information and document download. It is important at this point to quote Mr Fred Wilson from


Including this article. This is a guideline, and guidelines do not pass oral exams.

Part of being a responsible officer is knowing where to look, knowing that if you're not sure, find out.

You are cultivating the officer mindset.

You take control.

If you take anything away from this article, let it be the documents referred to.

Download those files.

This piece assumes you have already attained the RYA yachtmaster offshore (commercially endorsed) or IYT Master of Yachts Limited, and have a few years experience.

If this is not you, don't worry, articles will be published in the future detailing every step of the way. It will serve you to know this process as you can start working towards it TODAY.

There is also a series coming out soon called "The Officers Bookshelf" that will be delving into the MSN's, MGN's and other essential codes and documents that will be your Officer bread and butter.

For now- get comfortable and refer back as often as you need.

Process outline

  1. Find your first job and start logging Sea time. Work through the MCA Training Record Book. Monitor and update these often to ensure your journey towards officer is an efficient one.

  2. Yachtmaster offshore commercially endorsed or IYT Master of Yachts Limited certificate. * Please note there is a new route to OOW which will be detailed in the FAQ section at the bottom with links to MIN 580. For the purpose of this article, we will be referring to the original pathway requiring the Yachtmaster Offshore commercially endorsed.

  3. OOW courses can now be done in any order, however, it is highly recommended to do Efficient Deck Hand first. Further explanation below.

  4. When sufficient sea time has been verified and the Training Record Book is completed, you can now apply for your NOE (Notice of Eligibility). You don't need to have completed all the courses at this point and it is recommended you apply early as processing time can be long.

  5. Courses completed and NOE in hand, its time to choose a prep course and pick a date.

Stage 1: Inform

The more prepared you are from day 1, the more cost effective and stressless this is going to be.

  • MSN 1858.- Requirements for officers on large yachts over 24m.

Read it, study it.Refer to it always.

Most of the information in this article comes directly from this document. Requirements, courses, definitions, process and oral exam syllabus. All there.

Stage 2. Prepare.

This document details all the vessels on which you have completed onboard competency training, and the competencies themselves.

It must be filled out immaculately and is not something you want to be making up after 3 years on the shelf and possible boat changes.

  • Sea time.

There are strict rules for the sea time you need, the way it is verified, and presented. Here is the process for having qualifying sea time from your first day at sea.

Stage 3: Verify

The Service Record Book. Obtained through the PYA or Nautilus. They verify your Certificates of Discharge and Sea Service testimonies and present your Sea Service in a book. If you do not do this the wait for your NOE will be up to 160 days. All LegaSea Members receive 30% off their Nautilus membership, if you would like to find out more, get in touch here

Stage 4: Become Eligible

The "Notice of Eligibility" is the MCA's recognition that you have met the base requirements to sit an oral exam. You do not need to have done all the courses at this point, however, read below for details regarding EDH time restrictions.

To apply for your NOE, complete MSF 4343. This document includes checklists and is self explanatory. Read carefully.

Please note, although not required, it is advised you complete your EDH as soon as possible. As of January 2017, you need to have held your EDH for 18 months to apply for the OOW CoC. This means that even if you complete your courses and pass your oral exam, it will be 18 months before your CoC can be applied for.

To be apply for your NOE you must have the following.

  1. Attested copy of passport

  2. PYA or Nautilus Service Record Book

  3. Two countersigned passport photographs

  4. MCA approved Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence

  5. MCA Approved Yachtmaster Offshore Shore based Certificate

  6. Personal Survival Techniques STCW A-VI/1-1 (after 1st January 2017 updated or issued < 5 years)

  7. Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting STCW A-VI/1-2 (after 1st January 2017 updated or issued < 5 years)

  8. Elementary First Aid STCW A-VI/1-3

  9. Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities STCW A-VI/1-4

  10. Valid Medical Fitness Certificate (ENG1)

  11. MCA approved Training Record Book

Stage 5: Setting the date

Once you receive your NOE, matters are becoming serious. You can start the process of setting the date for your oral exam at your chosen location.

Who you decide to do it with will depend on availability, time constraints, and personal preference. In order to obtain an oral exam date you will have completed section 4 (application for an Oral exam) on your NOE. You can then book an oral exam at your chosen MCA Marine office.

It is strongly advised to do an Oral exam prep course. An oral exam cannot be faked. When you pass, you will know beyond a doubt you have earned it, you will have every right to feel proud because the OOW has a pass rate of just 53%. Though failure is disappointing, provision is made for further attempts.

Second attempt - at least 2 weeks after the initial examination;

Third attempt - at least 2 weeks after the second attempt;

Subsequent attempts - at least 3 months after the previous attempt.

It is with great affection and gratitude that we can recommend three oral prep pro's to ensure you cross the line with flying colours. All three have contributed to the successfull passing of the LegaSea team, and although they are not the only options out there, they certainly have our vote!

-Fred Wilson at

- Paul Shepherd at (LegaSea Mentor)

- Tony Browne at ( LegaSea mentor)

Now you know how to become eligible for the OOW, and how to begin your preparations today.

This is a serious and a deliberately filtering process. Good luck to all on this path, the number of women on it is steadily rising.

She of the Sea is here to help and celebrate your successes! Frequently asked questions

  • What is the new route to OOW?

Direct from' As the average size of Superyachts has increased and the Superyachting industry has grown, opportunities for those working on larger yachts to gain the necessary experience on the relevant sized vessels needed to be eligible for the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore or the IYT Master of Yachts/Mate Limited 200 GT CoCs have become increasingly difficult to obtain. These CoCs are a mandatory pre-requisite for those who wish to obtain a UK Officer of the Watch (OOW) yachts, less than 3000 GT, unlimited area, II/1 CoC.

This MIN details a solution by introducing a new route that allows those working on yachts over 24 meters to count some of their sea time towards the issue of an RYA Yachtmaster Coastal CoC or IYT Master of Yachts Coastal/Mate less yachts, less than 200 GT CoC. These coastal level CoCs will allow a candidate the opportunity to progress within the industry to achieve yacht restricted Officer of the Watch (OOW), Chief Mate and Master qualifications.

Download MIN 580 and read further,

  • Q. What are the Sea service requirements?


MSN 1858 states: "Since the age of 16 have obtained a minimum of 36 months’ onboard yacht service. This must include at least 365 days seagoing service on vessels of 15 metres or over in load line length, made up of:

-A minimum of 250 days’ ACTUAL sea going service and

-115 days of any combination of the following:

o Actual sea service;

o Stand-by service - A maximum of 14 consecutive days may be counted at one time, but on no occasion may a period of standby service exceed that of the previous voyage;

o Yard service - up to a maximum of 90 days continuously or in separate periods


-Onboard yacht service is the time spent signed on a yacht, irrespective of the vessel activity;

-Actual sea service is time spent at sea, which may include time at anchor or river and canal transits associated with a passage;

-Stand-by service is time immediately following a voyage while the vessel is under preparation for a subsequent voyage. A maximum of 14 consecutive days may be counted at one time, but on no occasion may a period of standby service exceed that of the previous voyage. Therefore, under no circumstances can your total standby service exceed your actual sea service;

-Yard service is time when standing by a build, refit or repair;

-Sea service includes a combination of actual sea service, stand-by service and/ or yard service

  • Q. Do I have to complete the Training Record Book?


MIN 521 states: "Applicants are only exempt from submitting a TRB if they have completed at least 36 months (1080) days of actual sea service on vessels over 24m."

  • Q. What courses do I need to do ?


These are the fun and expensive parts. Courses can be started as soon as you have your Yachtmaster offshore or IYT Master of Yachts Limited certificate. There are others you can do at the same time to receive your Chief Mate 3000GT that will be discussed in an upcoming article.

Required courses:

  • Efficient Deckhand

  • General Ship Knowledge (OOW Yachts

  • Navigation & Radar

  • Proficiency in Survival Craft & Rescue Boats or Advanced Sea Survival

  • HELM (Operational)

  • GMDSS General Operators Certificate

  • Electronic Chart Display (ECDIS)

Q. Do I have to get a Service Record Book


As of April 2017, MIN 543 stated the following :"The MCA requires evidence of qualifying sea service in support of seafarer’s applications for a Notice of Eligibility (NoE) to be in the form of a correctly completed Sea Service Testimonial (SST)". You will potentially be waiting up to 160 to receive your NOE if you do not produce a SRB.

  • Q. Does being at anchor count as a day at sea?

A. Yes

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