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 www.Fredsoralprep.com.
NEVER TRUST ANYONE.
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.
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.
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.
OOW courses can now be done in any order, however, it is highly recommended to do Efficient Deck Hand first. Further explanation below.
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.
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.
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.
Your personal record. As recorded in the vessels log book.
Certificates of Discharge and Sea Service testimonies from each vessel (found in MSN 1858). Signed and stamped by the Master. These are proof of your above personal records. The same information will be recorded in your Seaman's Discharge Book.
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.
Attested copy of passport
PYA or Nautilus Service Record Book
Two countersigned passport photographs
MCA approved Yachtmaster Offshore Certificate of Competence
MCA Approved Yachtmaster Offshore Shore based Certificate
Personal Survival Techniques STCW A-VI/1-1 (after 1st January 2017 updated or issued < 5 years)
Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting STCW A-VI/1-2 (after 1st January 2017 updated or issued < 5 years)
Elementary First Aid STCW A-VI/1-3
Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities STCW A-VI/1-4
Valid Medical Fitness Certificate (ENG1)
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 www.Fredsoralprep.com.
- Paul Shepherd at whitehorsemaritime.com/mca-orals-prep (LegaSea Mentor)