The Triton

Career

Sea, stand-by, watch and yard time clarified under MCA

ADVERTISEMENT

We are an industry where bigger is better and appearances set the standard. With that ever-increasing desire by owners to push the envelope for a yacht’s overall length, we have seen that the safety regulations that dictate how a yacht is constructed and operated have not necessarily kept pace.

In a long-awaited document, the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) published a Marine Information Note (MIN) in January. Titled MIN 498 (M), this note finally addresses the sea time needed for a license holder to cross over from the restricted “yachting” system and into the unlimited merchant navy licenses.

The MIN outlines the requirements for deck officers or ratings using yacht service as qualifying seagoing service toward the issue of an unlimited Certificate of Competency. The MIN also contains the new seagoing service testimonials for those working on yachts.

First, let’s review how the MCA will require the sea service to be documented and the types of sea service that will be accepted.

The MCA requires that all yacht service be documented in the form of either (a) yacht service testimonials supported by a discharge book or (b) an MCA-approved logbook. Both of these documents must include an exact breakdown of the actual sea service, stand-by service, and yard time. For the purposes of the MIN, the MCA service definitions are:

  • Actual Sea Service is time spent at sea, which may include time at anchor or river and canal transits associated with a passage.
  • Stand-by Service is time immediately following a voyage while the vessel is under preparation for a subsequent voyage.
  • Yard Time is time when standing by a build, refit or repair.
  • Watchkeeping Service is actual sea service spent as a watchkeeping officer in full charge of a navigational watch for at least four out of every 24 hours while the vessel is engaged on voyage.

The MCA states that seagoing service on yachts will be counted as a combination of actual sea-service, standby service and yard service. There are a few restrictions:

  • Stand-by Service cannot exceed the number of days performed on the previous voyage and in no case exceeds a maximum of 14 days in each period.
  • Yard Service cannot exceed a maximum total of 90 days for Officer of the Watch (OOW) and 30 days for Chief Mate or Master.

As a result of the above definitions, under no circumstance can stand-by service exceed actual sea service.

Now that the MCA has defined what type of sea service is required, let us review the requirements for the three levels of unlimited tonnage licenses.

To qualify for the issue of an OOW unlimited Certificate of Competency, the candidate must, from the age of 16, have completed 36 months seagoing service. Of that total, it must include at least six months engaged in bridge watchkeeping duties on vessels (including yachts) of more than 24m in length or more than 80 GT.

To qualify for the issue of a Chief Mate unlimited Certificate of Competency, one must have completed 18 months seagoing service as a deck officer while holding an OOW unlimited license. Sea service must be attained on vessels (including yachts) of more than 24m in length or more than 80 GT.

To qualify for the issue of a Master unlimited Certificate of Competency, the candidate must have completed 18 months seagoing service as a deck officer while holding a Chief Mate unlimited license. The sea service must be attained on vessels (including yachts) of more than 24m in length or more than 80 GT.

If an officer already possesses an OOW unlimited or a Chief Mate unlimited Certificate of Competency, and is serving on a yacht, there are additional stipulations to complete before raising to a higher Certificate of Competency. The license holder’s seagoing service requirements listed above must include the completion of:

  • At least six months on yachts of 500 GT or more operating beyond UK-categorized waters, or if outside the UK, beyond the harbor limits; OR
  • At least six months on vessels of at least 24m, made up of voyages of more than 300 nautical miles.

If a candidate has sea service on a yacht of over 3,000 GT that has spent more than 2/3 of its time proceeding to sea, then that sea service can be counted as per MGN 92 (M), i.e. at the full rate. A breakdown of the vessel’s movements must be provided with the application. This will be assessed by the MCA on a case-by-case basis.

If an officer already holds an MCA OOW for yachts less than 3,000 GT and the officer is applying for an OOW unlimited Certificate of Competency, it is not required to show evidence for six months of watchkeeping duties.  If the candidate does not hold an MCA OOW for yachts less than 3,000 GT, one will need a letter from the captain stating that the candidate has been engaged in watchkeeping duties under the supervision of a qualified officer for at least six months.

If one holds an OOW, Chief Mate, or Masters Certificate of Competency limited to yachts of less than 3,000 GT, the officer must first obtain an OOW unlimited license before progressing to a Chief Mate unlimited Certificate of Competency. It is not possible to skip over any of the unlimited licenses.

And finally, the MCA clearly states in the MIN that completing more than four hours watchkeeping within a 24-hour period cannot be counted as more than one day watchkeeping time. For example, if an officer completes a 12-hour watch within a 24-hour period, the officer can only count this as one day of watchkeeping service. Additionally, if the same officer completes two separate six-hour watches within a 24-hour period, the officer can only count this as one day of watchkeeping service.

Capt. Jake DesVergers is chief surveyor for International Yacht Bureau (IYB), an organization that provides flag-state inspection services to yachts on behalf of several administrations. A deck officer graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, he previously sailed as master on merchant ships, acted as designated person for a shipping company, and served as regional manager for an international classification society. Contact him at +1 954-596-2728 or www.yachtbureau.org. Comments on this column are welcome at editorial@the-triton.com.

 

Share This Post

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please answer the question below to leave a comment. * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Editor’s Picks

Crew Unlimited and ICT in Ft. Lauderdale join with Bluewater in Europe

Crew Unlimited and ICT in Ft. Lauderdale join with Bluewater in Europe

Crew, employees, industry expect opportunities as European and U.S. companies partner to expand yacht crew training, …

Boats and brokers in the news

Boats and brokers in the news

Yachts sold M/Y Charisma, a 153-foot (47m) Feadship built in 1985, by Merle Wood & Associates. M/Y Scorpion 2, a 40m Sanlorenzo, sold …

MARPOL and its affect on yachts

MARPOL and its affect on yachts

With the recent implementation of yacht inspections by the U.S. Coast Guard, plus the continued efforts being seen by the Paris MOU in …

What’s missing at Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show?

What’s missing at Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show?

Yacht captains share their thoughts about what would make the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show better. Click to read The Triton …