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STCW training for professional crews

To work on vessels above 24 metres yacht crew need to complete another set of training courses. Simon Jinks gives us an outline of the requirements.

On large boats, international certification which is accepted by all countries is required. This standard for international certification is governed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and is known as STCW (Standards of Training and Certification of Watchkeepers).

For crew working on vessels above 24 metres, STCW training is normally required along with other experience or RYA certificates. STCW basic training encompasses four elements or courses designed to keep new crew safe onboard. These courses arm you with an understanding in firefighting and use of fire fighting equipment; reacting to emergency situations and evacuation procedures; sea survival and safety at sea; and first aid knowledge.

The STCW Basic Safety Certificates are:

Personal Survival Techniques - 1 day
Fire Fighting & Fire Prevention - 2 days

Elementary First Aid - 1 day

Personal Safety and Social Responsibility - 1 day

Security Awareness - ½ day (this is a new requirement for anyone
working on vessels over 500gt)

Working as a professional Yachtmaster

If you hold STCW Basic Safety certificates you can upgrade your MCA/RYA Yachtmaster qualification to Master of Yachts 200gt. This is the benchmark qualification for a successful international career as a commercial yacht skipper

MCA Master 200 and Officer Of the Watch 500 (OOW)
The MCA Master and OOW certificates are similar to the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore qualifications but can be useful when operating from foreign ports and in larger vessels as port officials are more used to recognising MCA or Flag State qualifications. The 200 or 500 refer to the tonnage of the vessel. When the vessels get larger than this, so do does the level of training for Masters, Deck officers, Engineers and crew.

The certificates are gained by oral examination with an MCA examiner at an MCA office. The pre-requisite courses are:

RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore or Ocean Certificate of Competence
RYA Yachtmaster/Coastal Skipper Shorebased certificate

STCW Personal Survival Techniques
STCW Fire Fighting and Fire Prevention
STCW Elementary First Aid
STCW Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities
A GMDSS Radio Operators Certificate
HELM Operational Certificate (Human
Element Leadership and Management)

STCW Training on vessels below 24 metres
Although there is no legal requirement to hold STCW certificates to crew on vessels of less than 24m many employers and professional skippers expect their crew members to have them. Holding STCW certificates is an indication that you are a career minded professional.

Training for a career at sea

Simon Jinks is a partner in Searegs. His specialisation is in the MCA commercial codes of practice, RYA training and accreditation. He formally managed the Royal Yachting Association Yachtmaster programme. Simon is a Yachtmaster Instructor Examiner and a fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation.

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