Deck Rating to Officer of the Watch (Unlimited)


NAFC Course Code: N99

Hjaltland, Northlink Ferries

Hjaltland, Northlink Ferries



This course allows experienced seafarers (deck ratings) to obtain a Certificate of Competency qualifying them to serve as a junior deck officer on merchant ships of any size operating anywhere in the world. Successful candidates will also receive a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Nautical Science.

Candidates must have at least 36 months of sea time as a deck rating.


Entry Requirements

Candidates must have a Notice of Eligibility for an Unlimited Officer of the Watch qualification from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

To obtain an NOE candidates must be at least 19 years of age and able to show that they have:

  • at least 36 months' qualifying sea service as a deck rating on merchant ships.
  • spent at least 6 of the last 12 months of their sea service on bridge duties.

Full details of NOE requirements are available in MCA Merchant Shipping Notice MSN 1856 (pdf) or you can contact us.

Content content


The programme covers a wide range of subjects relevant to the duties of ships' officers, including:

HNC Units

  • Chartwork and Tides
  • Navigational Mathematics and Science
  • Meteorology
  • Marine Cargo Operations
  • Naval Architecture - Ship Construction
  • Celestial Navigation
  • Ship Stability - An Introduction
  • Bridge Watchkeeping

Additional Units

  • Law and Management
  • Emergency Response

Short Courses

  • GMDSS General Operator's Certificate (GOC)
  • Medical First Aid
  • Human Element, Leadership & Management (HELM) - Operational
  • Navigation Aids & Equipment Simulator Training (NAEST) - Operational
  • Signals

The course also prepares candidates to sit the written and oral examinations required to obtain a Deck Officer of the Watch Certificate of Competency.



This is a 10 month full-time course delivered at the NAFC Marine Centre.

The majority of the course is delivered through taught classes, group work and study, alongside other deck officer students. About 10% of the course will involve guided self-study.

Assessment will be by means of open and closed-book examinations, oral questioning, practical activities, graded presentations and course work.

To obtain a Certificate of Competency you will also have to pass written examinations and an oral examination conducted by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).



Please contact the NAFC Marine Centre for course dates.



  • £4,285

(Fees are subject to change without notice.)

Candidates may be able to apply for financial support to the Slater Fund (managed by the Marine Society with Nautilus International) which offers Slater Scholarships to helps ratings study for a first certificate of competency. For further details see:


Booking / Queries

To book a course please download an application form, or contact NAFC.

If you have any questions or need any more information please contact NAFC.