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STCW Certificates and Requirements for Officer in Charge of a Navigational Watch (OICNW) on Ocean Going & Near Coastal Ships

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Officer in Charge of a Navigational Watch (OICNW) is a Certificate of Competency (CoC) and an STCW endorsement with tonnage limitations for the deck officer on a sea going merchant ship. The tonnage limitations are either 500 gross tonnage or more and, less that 500 GT but above 200 GT. The OCINW is under a master’s command and so the duties are assigned by the master or captain of the ship.

Some example of OICNW endorsements would be Chief Mate, Third Mate (Third officer), Second Mate (Second Officer), Mate, Mate (Pilot) etc. The STCW regulations do not apply to vessels inland, seagoing vessels below 200 GRT, and uninspected vessels. This endorsement is based on required training, sea-time and assessments.

For example, the chief mate typically stands the 4-8 navigation watch as OICNW directing the bridge team. The Second officer/Second mate is a qualified OICNW watch stander, directing the bridge team and navigating the ship. The Third Officer or Third Mate is the least experienced qualified OICNW watch-stander and, on navigational watch, the Third Mate directs the bridge team, maneuvering the vessel, keeping it safe and on track.

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Officer in Charge of a Navigational Watch (OICNW) is a Certificate of Competency and an STCW endorsement with tonnage limitations for the deck officer


General Requirements to Obtain a Certificate of Competency as OICNW

Officers in charge of a navigational watch on ships of 500 gross tonnage or more must:

  • Age: be not less than 18 years of age.
  • Seagoing Service: have approved seagoing service of not less than one year as part of an approved training program, including onboard training. This training must meet the requirements of section A-II/1 of the STCW Code and be documented in an approved training record book. Otherwise, the seafarer must have approved seagoing service of not less than 36 months.
  • Bridge Watch-Keeping Duties: have performed, during the required seagoing service, bridge watch-keeping duties under the supervision of the master or a qualified officer for a period of not less than six months.
  • Radio Duties: meet the applicable requirements of the regulations in chapter IV (GMDSS), as appropriate, for performing designated radio duties in accordance with the radio regulations.
  • Education and Training: have completed a period of approved education and training and meet the standard of competence specified in section A-II/1 of the STCW Code.
  • Additional Requirements under STCW 2010: See below

Officers in charge of a navigational watch on ships of less than 500 gross tonnage must:

For Ships not engaged on near-coastal voyages:

  • Certificate: hold an appropriate certificate for ships of 500 gross tonnage or more.
  • Additional Requirements under STCW 2010: See below

For Ships engaged on near coastal voyages:

  • Age: be not less than 18 years of age.
  • Seagoing Service: have completed special training, including an appropriate period of seagoing service as required by the administration, or approved seagoing service in the deck department of not less than 36 months.
  • Radio Duties: meet the applicable requirements of the regulations in chapter IV (GMDSS), as appropriate, for performing designated radio duties in accordance with the Radio Regulations.
  • Education & Training: have completed a period of approved education and training and meet the standard of competence specified in section A-II/3 of the STCW Code for officers in charge of a navigational watch on ships of less than 500 gross tonnage engaged in near-coastal voyages.

Special Note: All navigational officers must now have thorough knowledge of and ability to use ECDIS.

Additional Requirements under STCW 2010

Officers in charge of a navigational watch on ships of 500 gross tonnage or more:

  • Use of electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS) to maintain the safety of navigation.
  • Knowledge of bridge resource management.
  • Application of leadership and teamwork skills.
  • Contribute to the safety of personnel and ship.

Officers in charge of a navigational watch on ships of less than 500 gross tonnage:

  • Contribute to the safety of personnel and ship

STCW Certificates, Endorsements & Training Required for OICNW

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      Table: OICNW certificates and training requirements. Credits: ITWF

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