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Certificates, Endorsements, Training and General Requirements to Obtain Certificate of Competency as Master Mariner

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A Master is the professional qualification required for someone to serve as the Captain of a commercial vessel of any size, of any type, operating anywhere in the world. Masters, also known as Captains, are in overall command of the ship and are responsible for the safety, efficiency and commercial feasibility of the ship. A Master's license states the area of operations and maximum gross tonnage of vessel for which that license is valid. A professional seafarer who holds a restricted or limited master's certificate who has sailed in command of a ship (appropriate to the size, power or geographic limits of their certificate) can also be titled captain.

Master is in charge of safety of the crew, vessel and cargo. He is charged with ensuring that all international and local laws are followed properly, and that all management policies are fully complied with. Master also ensures compliance with the vessel's security plan, as required by the IMO ISPS Code. The plan, customized to meet the needs of each individual ship, spells out duties including conducting searches and inspections, maintaining restricted spaces, and responding to threats.

The Master is responsible to the owner to the from terrorists, hijackers, pirates, and stowaways.charterer for the operation of the vessel and the employment of the crew in a safe and efficient manner to carry out the assigned missions of the vessel. He must maintain proper order and discipline on board at all times.

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A Master is the professional qualification required for someone to serve as the Captain of a commercial vessel of any size, of any type, operating anywhere in the world


General Requirements to Obtain a Certificate of Competency as Master

Masters on ships of 3,000 gross tonnage or more must:

  • Previous Certificate & Seagoing Service: meet requirements for certification as an officer in charge of a navigational watch on ships of 500 gross tonnage or more and have at least 36 months approved seagoing service in that capacity; however, this period may be reduced to not less than 24 months if not less than 12 months of such seagoing service has been served as chief mate.
  • Education & Training: have completed a period of approved education and training and meet the standard of competence specified in section A-II/2 of the STCW Code for masters on ships of 3,000 gross tonnage or more.

Masters on ships of 500 - 3,000 gross tonnage must:

  • Previous Certificate & Seagoing Service: meet requirements for certification as an officer in charge of a navigational watch on ships of 500 gross tonnage or more and have at least 36 months approved seagoing service in that capacity; however, this period may be reduced to not less than 24 months if not less than 12 months of such seagoing service has been served as chief mate.
  • Education & Training: have completed a period of approved education and training and meet the standard of competence specified in section A-II/2 of the STCW Code for masters on ships of between 500 and 3,000 gross tonnage.
  • Note: The same requirements apply for masters on ships of less than 500 gross tonnage not engaged on near-coastal voyages.

Masters on ships of less than 500 gross tonnage must:

  • Age: be not less than 20 years of age.
  • Seagoing Service: have approved seagoing service of not less than 12 months as officer in charge of a navigational watch.
  • 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 masters on ships of less than 500 gross tonnage engaged in near-coastal voyages.
Additional Requirements under STCW 2010

Masters 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 managerial skills.
  • Contribute to the safety of personnel and ship
  • Maintain safe navigation through the use of information from navigation equipment and systems to assist command decision making.

STCW Certificates, Endorsements & Training Required for Master

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      Table: Master Marine certificates and training requirements. Credits: ITWF

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