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MCA Radio Operator and GMDSS Endorsements Requirements for UK Registered Merchant Vessels

mca gmdss radio operator

The role of a GMDSS Radio Operator of high importance in the maritime industry and they are responsible for efficiently operating the GMDSS equipment. They have primary responsibility for radio communications during distress incidents. In UK, for the issue of a deck officer Certificate of Competency (COC) you must hold either a GMDSS GOC1 or, for some near coastal Certificates of Competency, a GMDSS Restricted Operators Certificate (ROC).

The UK Merchant Shipping Regulations 2015, implement the requirements of the International Convention and Code on STCW 1978, as amended, including the provisions prescribing the mandatory minimum requirements for certification of radio personnel appointed for distress and safety communication purposes in accordance with Regulation 19 of the Merchant shipping (Radio installations) Regulations 1998. The Radio Regulations implement, in the United Kingdom, Chapter IV of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea 1974 (SOLAS).

All radio operators serving on UK registered ships, in accordance with the Radio Regulations, must reach the required vocational and academic standards as specified in section A-IV/2 of the STCW Code and hold one of the following suitably endorsed radio certificates of competency - Restricted Operator’s Certificate (ROC) to operate in sea area A1; OR A General Operator’s Certificate (GOC)1 to operate in any sea area A1 to A4.

mca gmdss ship

You may also read: International Maritime Organisation (IMO) STCW Requirements for GMDSS Radio Operator 

MCA General Requirements for Radio Operator


  • Meet the minimum age requirements
  • A valid ENG1 (medical fitness certificate) or accepted equivalent
  • Complete the appropriate courses and training 

MCA Radio Operator GDMMS (STCW A-IV/2) Requirements

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have completed a GMDSS GOC or ROC AMERC approved course and passed the examinations, demonstrating the standards of competence specified in section A-IV/2 of the STCW Code.
  • On satisfactory completion of the training, and having passed the AMERC examinations you will be issued with the appropriate GMDSS certificate.
  • In order to comply with the requirements of the STCW Convention and to perform the radio communications function onboard ships, all GMDSS certificates must be endorsed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
  • The MCA also accepts some GMDSS certificates issued by other administrations for the use on UK ships.
  • In addition to the GOC and ROC, AMERC also issue two superior certificates - a First-class Radioelectronic certificate and a Second-class Radioelectronic Certificate. If you hold either of these certificates you have met the required level of competence to operate the GMDSS. You will still need to obtain an STCW endorsement to operate the GMDSS at sea.

MCA GMDSS STCW Endorsement Requirements

  • Hold AMERC-issued GMDSS GOC or ROC
  • Hold basic STCW safety training certificates
  • Holders of valid UK deck, engineer and electro-technical STCW Certificates of Competency valid for seagoing service will not be required to produce evidence of the STCW safety training certificates by virtue of the training undertaken to obtain their Certificates of Competency.
  • From 1 January 2017 Personal Survival Techniques and Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting must have been completed or updated within the last 5 years.
  • The MCA-issued STCW endorsement will be valid from a period of five years from the date of issue

MCA GMDSS STCW Endorsement Revalidation

  • Completing a minimum of 12 months’ seagoing service within the last 5 years immediately prior to making an application to revalidate your STCW endorsement OR  At least 30 months’ service in an acceptable occupation in the 5 years immediately prior to making an application to revalidate your STCW endorsement
  • If you are unable to meet the revalidation requirements listed above, you must demonstrate to the MCA that you are competent to return to sea by submitting the basic STCW safety training certificates OR A UK Certificate of Competency valid for seagoing service

Accepted GMDSS Certificates From Other Countries by MCA

radio operator mca countries accepted
Table: Accepted GMDSS Certificates toward the issue of a UK Deck Certificate of Competency - Credits: MCA

Note: This list is subject to change so you must check with MCA for an up to date list prior to making an application for a UK Certificate of Competency

Disclaimer: For general information purpose - please check with MCA for the latest requirements and accurate info

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