Deck Rating to Officer of the Watch

NAFC Course Code: N99

Hjaltland, Northlink Ferries


This course is aimed at deck ratings who wish to qualify as a deck officer. Candidates must have at least 36 months of sea time as a deck rating.

On successful completion of the course you will receive a Certificate of Competency qualifying you to serve as a junior deck officer on merchant ships of any size operating anywhere in the world, plus academic qualifications that can allow you to progress to further study:

  • a Deck Officer of the Watch Unlimited Certificate of Competency (STCW Reg II/1) from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA).
  • a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Nautical Science.
  • relevant short course certificates, including First Aid and Fire Fighting.

Entry Requirements

Candidates must have at least 36 months qualifying sea service as a deck rating on merchant ships with at least 6 months engaged in bridge watchkeeping duties.

See MCA Merchant Shipping Notice MSN 1856 (pdf) for full details.


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

Short Courses

  • Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS)
  • Human Element, Leadership & Management (HELM) - Operational
  • GMDSS General Operator's Certificate (GOC)
  • Medical First Aid
  • Navigation Aids & Equipment Simulator Training (NAEST) - Operational

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.

You will also have to pass an oral examination by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to obtain a Certificate of Competency.


  • 3 Sept 2018 - July 2019

Please contact the NAFC Marine Centre for further dates.


  • £4,285

(Fees are subject to change without notice.)

Candidates may apply for financial support to the Slater Fund which helps ratings study for a first certificate of competency. The fund is managed by the Marine Society with Nautilus International, and offers Slater Scholarships of up to £18,500, with an additional discretionary £1,500 for completing the programme.

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.