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Each training programme is around three years and is made up of five phases, alternating between time at the Academy and time away at sea.
Engineer candidates with previous engineering experience (even if it’s non-maritime related) or previous sea time can apply to the UK MCA for a Letter of Initial Assessment. They will require details of your qualifying sea service, engineering qualifications and any craft apprenticeship served, together with any course certificates (first aid, fire fighting, sea survival, and so on). This letter will effectively map out your career progression, listing course details and required sea service from your current level up to a Chief Engineer certificate of competency. To be assessed you must download and submit the relevant application form.
There are five basic training modules that every person working at sea is required to complete before they can be employed on a UK-registered vessel (Personal Survival Techniques, Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities, Elementary First Aid, Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting and Proficiency in Security Awareness). This is a mandatory safety requirement and more advanced versions of these modules will have to be completed as your career progresses. Warsash offers the mandatory basic STCW safety training courses as a Basic Safety Training Week.
To become an officer in the merchant navy you must undertake and officer cadet training programme, which involves academy-based education, integrated with periods of practical training at sea. The maritime education and training must be completed in order to achieve professional seafaring certification and related educational qualifications.
Warsash offers a number of officer cadet training programmes approved by the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB). All of the programmes lead to professional certification by the MCA and, depending on the route followed, one of the following academic awards: Deck (navigation) officer cadets Foundation Degree (FdSc) Marine Operations Higher National Diploma (HND) Nautical Science Higher National Certificate (HNC) Nautical Science Engineer officer cadets Foundation Degree (FdEng) Marine Engineering Higher National Diploma (HND) Marine Engineering Higher National Certificate (HNC) Marine Engineering Electro-technical officer cadets Foundation Degree (FdEng) Marine Electrical and Electronic Engineering
The minimum industry requirements are as follows: HND and HNC routes Four GCSEs, grade C or above and including maths (preferably higher tier), science (with significant physical science content) and English or Passes in four subjects (as above) in the Scottish Certificate of Education or Passes in four subjects (as above) in the NI Grammar School Senior Certificate Exam Foundation degree routes A minimum of 120 UCAS points (for engineering, including a numerate subject) Plus GCSEs at grade C or above in maths, English, science (with significant physical science content)
Yes, this a requirement for you to enrol on an officer cadet training programme. The programmes all have a high content of maths and science so knowledge of these subjects is essential. However, you may have other qualifications or expertise that could be taken into consideration and you would need to highlight this very strongly in your application to sponsoring companies. If you do not meet the academic requirements you may wish to consider training as a rating, and for this you will need to show the potential to achieve the ratings qualifications.
Another option would be to pursue a career on superyachts. Your best way forward is to get practical experience on yachts and learn on the job. Your first step is to get a position on a yacht after having completed the mandatory training for new entrants. See the Warsash Superyacht Academy website for more information.
Unless you have completed a mechanical engineering degree (or similar) and you wish to become an engineer officer there will not really be any transferable qualifications at degree level. However, the skills you have picked up during your professional life will be extremely transferable and may aid your application to shipping companies.
All UK officer cadet training schemes are financed, or sponsored by, a number of shipping companies and maritime recruitment specialists in order to complete the seatime elements of the training programme. As such, candidates must apply directly to the shipping companies for sponsorship. A list of sponsoring organisations can be found on our website.
No, you can only apply through shipping companies for sponsorship.
Possibly, although you will need to gain sponsorship from a shipping company. However you would first need to contact the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, giving details (and copies) of the qualifications you have already gained and your areas of expertise and whether you wish to apply for the deck or engineering department. The MCA will advise whether any of your qualifications and expertise is transferable and the additional qualifications and sea time you would need to acquire. You will need to ask the MCA for a Letter of Initial Assessment. MCA contact: www.dft.gov.uk/mca Tel: 02380 329100 (ask for seafarer standards and certification)
The benefits are excellent as the sponsorship covers the cost of course tuition fees and provides a salary or training allowance to officer cadets throughout their training.
The minimum age to be accepted on to an officer cadet training scheme is 16. There is no upper age limit as such, but it is best to check with individual shipping companies.
You should research as much as you can into the sponsoring companies and types of ships that you could be working on and apply to the ones that interest you most.
We recommend you apply to more than one company to keep your options open and do also consider applying to the training management companies such as SSTG, Clyde Marine Training and Viking Recruitment. They recruit cadets on behalf of numerous shipping companies and if you get a cadet sponsorship through them you may get sea phases on different types of vessels (ie, tanker, cruise, container, etc).
Companies normally start the recruitment process around January each year for entry in the following September or January. Companies conduct their communication and interview process directly with the applicant.
If you are able to attend one of our regular open days you will be able to meet representatives from some of the shipping companies. Our open days are usually held in January and June. More information about our open days can be found on our website.
Sponsorship from UK companies is available to EU citizens ordinarily resident in the UK (you must be able to provide a UK address you have lived at for 12 months). You will also need to have the required levels of English, maths and science, as per the academic entry requirements.
A potential candidate from outside the UK and EU should secure sponsorship from one of their own country’s shipping lines and be approved by the MCA.
Officer cadets must be in good health and capable of passing the merchant navy medical examination (ENG1). Navigation officer cadets must also have normal colour vision and be able to pass the MCA sight text, although corrective lenses may be acceptable in certain cases.
Anyone contemplating a career as a ship’s officer would be well advised to take a medical examination and sight test as soon as possible to find out if there are nay physical bars to their career aspirations. The MCA holds a list of approved doctors throughout the UK who are able to provide ENG1 seafarer medical examinations.
Officer cadet training programmes consist of a number of training phases, alternating between time at the Academy and time at sea on board on of your shipping company’s vessels. A brief summary is as follows: Year 1 – phase 1 Training starts at Warsash and is designed to give officer cadets the necessary skills and academic underpinning knowledge required for professional certification by the MCA and to operate safely at sea. Officer cadets also undertake specific safety courses required by international convention. Year 1 – phase 2 Training is at sea, gaining practical shipboard experience. In the deck department an officer cadet will work alongside rating and under the supervision of qualified officers, developing practical navigation and other ship operation skills. In the engineering department qualified engineering and electro-technical officers will help officer cadets put their academic theory into practice. Years 1 and 3 – phases 3,4 and 5 Training alternates between shore-based studies for underpinning knowledge and specialist short courses, and work at sea for professional development. Greater responsibility is given as training progresses. Phase five includes the final examinations and assessments required to complete the cadetship.
Deck (navigation) officer Under the captain’s direct management, the deck department is responsible for the safe navigation and operation of the vessel, both at sea and in port. While the safety of the vessel and everyone on board is the prime responsibility, all deck operations and maintenance are also managed by the team. Deck officers are a vital part of the on board management team, taking charge of an expensive vessel and its equally valuable crew and passengers. Deck officers maintain watches on the bridge at sea and about the ship in port. They are responsible for passage planning, the safe navigation of the vessel, cargo loading and discharge, ship stability, communications and the maintenance of the hull and deck equipment. The ship’s captain or master is in overall command with ultimate responsibility for the safety of the crew, vessel, cargo and environment. Only navigation officers can be promoted to the rank of master. Marine engineering officer The engineering department is responsible for the safety, performance and efficiency of the vessel’s machinery. It is their job to maintain the mechanical and electrical operations, ensure robust maintenance schedules are implemented and troubleshoot problems efficiently. Marine engineering officers are responsible for the maintenance and operation of the ship’s main propulsion machinery and auxiliary plant, including deck machinery, air conditioning plants, refrigeration plants and domestic and electrical services. Depending on the type of ship and operational circumstances, engineer officers will be required to keep watches in the ship’s engine room. The chief engineer officer is in charge of the department and is responsible to the ship’s master for its efficient operation. Whilst the law demands that only one person can be in overall command of the ship and, by tradition, that person is the master, the chief engineer officer’s status and salary is comparable to that enjoyed by the master. Marine electro-technical officer (METOs) These specialist officers work within the engineering department where they take particular responsibility for the maintenance of on board control engineering and electronic systems including propulsion control, radio communications and electronic navigation aids. With the increased use of modern technologies at sea, demand for METOs is rapidly building to manage and maintain the sophisticated range of electrical, electronic and engineering equipment at sea. METOs will have the opportunity to develop their careers along a professional electrical and electronic engineering pathway, leading to the rank of chief electro-technical officer, chief technical officer or electrical superintendent, depending on the company they work for.
The precise wages available vary widely depending on the type and size of vessel worked on, the leave taken and other terms and conditions, together with a wide range of other considerations which must be taken into account. However newly qualified candidates with an officer of the watch qualification can expect the starting rate to be in the range of £20,000 to £25,000 per annum.
There is currently a worldwide shortage of qualified seafarers so the prospects are very good. For those later wishing to progress their career ashore, there are a number of opportunities available, from marine pilots and surveyors, to port operations, marine law and a host of other occupations.
Once initial certification is gained, further training and experience will enable progression to the qualifications needed to become either a ship’s captain, chief engineer or chief electro-technical officer. It typically takes a further five or six years to achieve these senior qualifications. Promotion will then depend on merit and opportunity, as well as holding higher level qualifications.
Upon successful completion of the foundation degree or HND programme you will also have the opportunity to ‘top up’ your academic qualification to an honours degree (either BSc (Hons) Marine Operations Management for deck officers or BEng (Hons) Marine Engineering and Management for engineer/ETO officers).
Cadets are required to wear a college uniform, details of which will be contained in the joining instructions, which also gives a list of suppliers.
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