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MCA Officer of the Watch (OOW) Certificate of Competency Requirements for Serving UK Registered Commercial Merchant Ships

officer of the watch oow

Officer of the Watch (OOW) is a Certificate of Competency (CoC) and an STCW endorsement (STCW OICNW) with tonnage limitations for the deck officer on a sea going merchant ship. The Merchant Shipping (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) Regulations 2015, implement the requirements of the International Convention and Code on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping (STCW) 1978, as amended including the provisions prescribing the mandatory minimum requirements for the certification of OOW.

oow ship

You may also read: International Maritime Organization (IMO) STCW requirements for OICNW

UK MCA General Requirements for OOW CoC


  • Meet the minimum age requirement
  • Complete the minimum period of seagoing service
  • A valid ENG1 (medical fitness certificate) or accepted equivalent
  • Hold applicable ancillary and safety course certificates
  • Complete the appropriate education and training meeting the minimum vocational and academic standard
  • If applicable, pass an oral examination conducted by MCA

MCA Officer of the Watch (OOW) Unlimited (STCW II/1) Requirements

  • Be at least 18 years of and since the age of 16, have obtained either of the following
  • Approved seagoing service of not less than 12 months as part of an MNTB approved Cadet Training Program or MNTB-approved Hons degree, which includes onboard training that meets the requirements of section A-II/1 of the STCW Code and is documented in an approved Training Record Book. This must include 6 months’ seagoing service engaged in bridge watchkeeping duties OR
  • The approved seagoing service specified on your college letter as part of an MCA approved Overseas Collaborative Program, which includes onboard training that meets the requirements of section A-II/1 of the STCW Code and is documented in an approved Training Record Book. This must include 6 months seagoing service engaged in bridge watchkeeping duties OR
  • 36 months seagoing service with 6 months engaged in bridge watchkeeping duties (Experienced Seafarer Route) AND
  • Successfully complete an approved education and training program meeting the standards of competency specified in section A-II/1 of the STCW Code AND
  • Hold a Signals certificate issued in the last 3 years AND
  • Pass SQA OOW written examinations at an approved SQA Centre in Navigation & Stability and Operations AND
  • Pass MCA oral examination C

Important Notes

  • If you have met the requirements and have been accepted onto an MNTB-approved cadet training program, you must obtain a letter from the college confirming your attendance on the program.
  • If you are following an MCA-approved Overseas Collaborative Program (One Plus One) overseen by a UK nautical college, you must obtain a letter from the college confirming your attendance on the program and the seagoing service requirements applicable to that program.
  • If you are able to demonstrate 36 months of acceptable seagoing service you may be eligible to undertake the MCA-approved Experienced Seafarer Route. You do not require a college letter for the issue of an NOE.
  • If you undertake and pass an MNTB-approved Hons Degree, Foundation Degree or Scottish Professional Diploma to the required level you will be exempt from the SQA OOW, II/1, written examinations

MCA Officer of the Watch (OOW) Less Than 500 GT, Near-Coastal (STCW II/3) Requirements

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have (since the age of 16) completed 36 months’ seagoing service in the deck department. This may be reduced to 12 months if following an approved training course
  • Hold a Signals certificate issued within the last 3 years
  • Have successfully completed of approved education and training program meeting the standards of competency specified in section A-II/3 of the STCW Code and passed the following SQA written exams examinations - General Ship Knowledge, Chart-work and Coastal Navigation, and Meteorology
  • Pass MCA oral examination E
  • The sea time may be reduced to 12 months if you have followed an MNTB-approved training course and complete the relevant academic studies
  • Officers or ratings from other categories must provide evidence of work on deck in the form of an approved Training Record Book for the stated period of seagoing service, including bridge watchkeeping duties of 6 months
  • The SQA written examinations and MCA oral examination must be passed within 3 years prior to the date of the issue of your Certificate of Competency

OOW Ancillary and Safety Course Certification Requirements

courses training oow
Table: Ancillary and Safety Course Certification for OOW - Credits: MCA

  1. The MCA will accept certificates issued under the authority of any IMO 'White List' country.
  2. The MCA will accept certificates issued under the authority of any EU Member State, as well as Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.
  3. Certificates must be MCA-approved.
  4. The MCA will accept certificates issued under the authority of any EU Member State and those listed on the approved list.

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

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