How to become a yacht officer: Officer of the watch (OOW) certificate
Written by Michael Henson
Last updated: 02/12/2016
A deck officer assigned with the duties of watch keeping and navigation on a ship’s bridge is known as the officer on watch (OOW). While keeping a watch on the bridge they are the representative of the ship’s master and have the total responsibility of the safe and smooth navigation of the yacht.
A quick summary of the officer of the watch (OOW)
To obtain the MCA Officer of the Watch certificate an oral examination needs to be taken. However several courses are required before the exam can be taken. Please note there are two levels of the OOW. Unlimited, which qualifies you to work on vessels of any size and the lesser one, which allows you to work on yachts less than 3000gt. The below refers to the unlimited certificate.
What are the course prerequisites?
- Any sea time gained on yachts over 24m or 80GT will count as sea time towards unlimited certification. If you have 36 months’ qualifying sea time and have been involved in bridge watchkeeping duties for at least six months, you will be able to apply for a Notice of Eligibility (NoE)
- You will also need a letter from the captain or management company to testify that you have been involved with bridge watchkeeping activities for at least six months
- Hold a valid STCW certificate
- Eng1 medical certificate
- GMDSS General Operator’s certificate
- Efficient Deck Hand (EDH) certificate
- Human Element, Leadership and Management - Operational Level
- MCA Signals Examination
Can you take one course to get the officer of the watch (OOW) certificate?
Yes! A few leading yacht crew training companies offer the course and prerequisites courses in one comprehensive block of study. Warsash Superyacht Academy offers a 27 week course split over two terms, which include HNC tuition and associated assessments, NAEST(O) course, HELM(O) course, EDH course, SQA examination preparation and MCA Signals & Oral preparation.
What job can you get with the officer of the watch (OOW)?
If you are serious about a long-term career in yachting, then the OOW certificate is one you will need to progress to the top. Besides increasing your knowledge base, gaining an academic qualification, the OOW unlimited can enable you to:
- Work as a deck officer on any vessel, including yachts above 3,000GT (which will be classed as passenger yachts or as passenger ships).
- Work on yachts where the yacht asks for officers with unlimited certification (even if less than 3,000GT).