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General Requirements for Ratings Part of a Watch (Deck or Engine), not Assigned to Watch-Keeping Duties, and those Undergoing Training

seafarer rating

Ratings fall under three general categories - those forming part of a watch (deck or engine), those who are not assigned watch-keeping duties, and those undergoing training. As a rating you are required to meet minimum standards of medical fitness, minimum age (if designated with watch-keeping duties), competence (if designated with watch-keeping duties), and seagoing service time (if designated with watchkeeping duties). Ratings who are not assigned watch-keeping duties or those still undergoing training are not required to hold watch-keeping certificates.

All other certification requirements for ratings depend on the functions performed on board. If you want to know the exact standards of competence you should meet, consult chapters II (master and deck department), III (engine department), IV (radio personnel), V (training requirements for personnel on certain types of ships), VI (emergency, occupational safety, medical care and survival functions) of the STCW Convention. These chapters should be read in conjunction with the respective section of part A of the STCW Code.

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seafarer ship

As a rating you are required to meet minimum standards of medical fitness, minimum age, competence, and seagoing service time, if designated with watchkeeping duties

Ratings Assigned Watch-Keeping Duties


  • Ratings forming part of a watch (deck or engine) need to be specifically certified for this function. If you are part of a navigational watch, you need to hold a certificate known as ‘rating forming part of a navigational watch’ certificate. On the other hand, if you are part of an engineering watch, you will need to hold a certificate known as ‘rating forming part of an engineering watch’ certificate.

Ratings Forming Part of a Navigational Watch

  • You should meet the competence requirements stated below. These do not apply to ratings on ships of below 500 gross tonnages.
  • Steer the ship and comply with helm orders issued in English
  • Keep a proper look-out by sight and hearing
  • Contribute to monitoring and controlling a safe watch
  • Operate emergency equipment and apply emergency procedures

Ratings Forming Part of Engineering Watch

  • If you are part of an engineering watch you should meet the competence requirements stated below. The requirements are the same as for STCW-95. They do not apply to ratings on ships of below 750kW in propulsion power.
  • Carry out a watch routine appropriate to the duties of a rating forming part of an engine room watch, and communicate effectively in matters related to watch-keeping duties
  • Keep a boiler watch and maintain the correct water level and steam pressure
  • Operate emergency equipment and apply emergency procedures

Revalidation Requirements for Ratings

  • Certificates for ratings forming part of a watch are not subject to revalidation. Other certificates are subject to refresher training

Ratings Serving on Ships Registered Under a Foreign Flag

  • Under the convention, certificated watch-keeping ratings are not required to have an endorsement of recognition when serving on ships registered under the flag of another country. However, the administrations of some foreign countries require and issue endorsements for ratings forming part of a watch and other certificates relating to specific functions (tanker training, for example).

Going for the Next Higher Certificate

  • Progression through the ranks, particularly from rating to officer, is possible under STCW. However, you will need to complete approved seagoing service and complete an approved program of training. Under the 2010 STCW Convention the requirement for training books is extended to the able seafarer deck or engine.

Ratings Duties on Joining Any Ship

  • All ratings need to complete a period of ship-specific familiarization training, including security before being assigned any shipboard functions. There is no certificate awarded for this, but a record should be kept of it in the ship’s official logbook. This requirement applies to any member of the crew, including hotel staff in passenger ships.

Basic Safety Training for Ratings

  • This requirement applies to practically all ratings serving on merchant ships as well as to ratings undergoing training. Basic safety training should be documented as having taken place within five years of a rating’s being assigned to safety and pollution prevention duties.

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