How to become a chief yacht engineer: Yacht4 (Y4)
Written by Yachting Pages
Last updated: 23/10/2019
If you plan on becoming a chief yacht engineer, you’ll need to obtain the internationally recognised skills, sea-service time and MCA Chief Engineer Yacht 4 Certificate of Competency.
This guide is for senior yacht engineers that hold their Approved Engine Course (AEC) and Marine Engine Operator License (MEOL) Certificates, or an eligible amount of previous experience in another sector.
What is the Yacht 4 (Y4)?
The MCA Yacht4 Certificate is the third qualification for yacht engineers following the MCA Engineer Officer training scheme.
Candidates must first have obtained their Approved Engine Course (AEC) and Marine Engine Operator License (MEOL) Certificates, or hold an eligible amount of previous experience in another sector before taking this course, which qualifies students to work as a chief engineer on a superyacht of up to 200GT and less than 1,500kW, or as a second/third engineer on a larger superyacht.
The qualification allows Y4 chief engineers to eventually progress on to the Yacht 3 and Yacht 2 courses, allowing them to work as chief engineers on larger yachts.
To obtain the Y4, three modules and an engineering skills test first need to be taken before a Notice of Eligibility (NoE) can be applied for from the MCA to sit theY4 oral examination, during which applicants will be required to demonstrate familiarity and proficiency in numerous areas of the superyacht engine.
The individual modules cost from £1,150 upwards and the oral exam costs between £150 and £250 and must be taken at an MCA-approved training centre.
Yacht 4 training prerequisites
The below course certificates must be held before taking the Y4:
- Marine Diesel Engineering Certificate
- Auxiliary Equipment Certificate
- Operational Procedures, Basic Hotel Services and Ship Construction Certificate
- Skills Test Certificate (exemption may be given under certain circumstances)
- ENG1 Medical Certificate
If the AEC and MEOL certificates are not held by a student, but they can prove 42 months’ experience as an engineer and six months’ sea service, then the above certificates will not need to be obtained. However, if they have less than 42 months’ working experience the below courses will also be needed:
- CPSC&RB / Advanced Sea Survival Certificate
- Advanced Fire Fighting Certificate
- Proficiency in Medical First-Aid Aboard Ship
- Element Leadership & Management (Operational) (HELM O) Certificate
If you are yet to receive any of these certificates, you can still apply for the Notice of Eligibility (NoE) to take your Y4 oral examination, but you will need to submit the certificates to the MCA after your exam.
Yacht 4 sea-service prerequisites
To obtain the Y4 Certificate, a Marine Engine Operators License (MEOL) will need to be held for 12 months, and proof of service as a yacht engineer on yachts of 350kW or more in propulsion power, with at least six months actual sea service, whilst holding the MEOL.
Or, if you are going straight for the Y4, proof of 42 months’ service as a yacht engineer, with a minimum of 12 months’ on yachts of 350kW or more in propulsion power, including at least 6 months actual sea service.
Or six months’ service as a yacht engineer on yachts of 350kW or more in propulsion power, whilst holding a MN Senior Marine Engine Operator licence (SMEOL), including at least three months’ sea service.
Warsash Training Academy advised that those going for their Y4 Certificate can sit their examinations in any order and can even go for the oral first as long as they have an NoE. However, due to the perceived difficulty, it’s recommended to complete exams in the following order: Marine Diesel Engineering, Operational and Hotel, Auxiliary Equipment, and then the Y4 oral exam.
This way, students will progress through the courses gaining vital experience with respect to learning and exam techniques, finishing with Auxiliary Equipment – the most demanding of the three modules.
What’s involved in the Y4 program modules?
Marine Diesel Engineering Certificate
The syllabus of this module covers the working principles and maintenance of diesel and petrol engines, including turbochargers, engine construction, engine-safety devices, engine room layouts and auxiliary systems, as well as the application of oils, cooling water systems, heat exchangers and starting systems. The module typically costs between £1,150 (€1,210) and £1,250 (€1,424).
Auxiliary Equipment Certificate
A five-day course certificated by examination, covering the working principles and maintenance of:
- Compressed air system
- Hydraulic & pneumatic control principles
- Hydraulic control systems
- Propellers and thrusters
- Shafting and bearings
- Electrical plant
Due to the large amount of material to be learnt, a substantial amount of pre-course study is required. The module typically costs £1,150 (€1,210) and £1,250 (€1,424).
Operational Procedures, Basic Hotel Services and Ship Construction Certificate
This course and examination covers a range of operational, legal and environmental issues. The expected learning outcome is that the student understands:
- Legislation including the purpose of the MCA
- Merchant shipping notices
- Marine guidance and information notes
- Code of Safe Working Practices
- STCW conventions
- Watch keeping
- Maintenance procedures
- The importance of record keeping and trend analysis
- Bunkering procedures
- Operation of sewage plants
- An understanding of refrigeration and air conditioning plants
- Fresh water generation and management
- Motion control
- Fire fighting
- Ship construction
The module typically costs between £1,150 (€1,210) and £1,250 (€1,424).
Engineering Skills Test
Designed to allow students to demonstrate basic engineering skills in fitting, assembly, and electrical maintenance. Students must complete all tasks for assessment on their own and no instruction is given. The tasks cover the following:
- Safe and efficient use of equipment
- Inspection and care of equipment; selection and suitability of equipment
- Use and care of hand tools; safe use of portable power tools
- Safe use of drilling machines and bench-mounted grinders
- Maintenance and assembly skills
- Electrical testing and wiring; recognition of common components, symbols and configuration