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Merchant Navy Deck & Engineer Programs and, Maritime & RYA Training in Port Arthur

nafc marine centre uhi

Established in 1992, NAFC Marine Centre, which is part of the University of Highland and Island (UHI), supports Shetland's maritime industries. NAFC Marine Centre delivers high quality accredited and bespoke training; conducts applied research and development; supports industry growth and innovation through consultancy and knowledge exchange; and engages with the wider community.

The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) is the only university based in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The University provides access to undergraduate and postgraduate study, and research opportunities through a distinctive partnership of 13 colleges and research institutions one of which is NAFC Marine Centre. Some are relatively large colleges in the urban centers of the region such as Perth, Elgin and Inverness. In addition to the main campuses, UHI also provides educational opportunities through a network of more than 50 learning centers located throughout the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire.

UHI’s Shetland School of Nautical Studies (SSNS)  is situated at Port Arthur, Scalloway, and the ancient capital of Shetland. It overlooks East Voe which leads westwards out into the North Atlantic Ocean. The school has comprehensive maritime education and training facilities including modern navigation, communications, engine room and cargo simulators, engineering workshops, seagoing training vessel, lecture theater and classrooms, library, fully furnished and comfortable self catering accommodation on site.


nafc marine centre campus

Training Programs




Precadetship Programs

  • Cadet Program Access Course (SCQF Level 5) (20 weeks): This preparatory course provides an alternative access pathway to the Merchant Navy Officer Cadet Program. It could also provide an entry route to other maritime courses or careers. It is aimed at persons who wish to train as Deck or Engineer Officers but do not meet the normal requirements for direct entry to the cadet program. This could include persons considering leaving school after S4 or who have left school but would like to return to further education to become a cadet.

Cadetship Programs

  • Merchant Navy Officer Cadet Program (Deck & Engineering - 3 years, full time): This program trains Deck and Engineer Officers for the Merchant Navy through periods of study at NAFC alternating with periods of service at sea on merchant ships. 
    • Deck Officer Cadets will receive -  a Deck Officer of the Watch Unlimited Certificate of Competency (STCW Reg III/I) from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA); a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Nautical Science; a National Certificate (NC) in Shipping & Maritime Operations; and relevant short course certificates. 
    • Engineer Officer Cadets will receive - an Engineer Officer of the Watch Unlimited Certificate of Competency (STCW Reg III/I) from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA); a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Marine Engineering; a National Certificate (NC) in Shipping & Maritime Operations; and relevant short course certificates.

Other Merchant Navy Programs

  • HND Nautical Science (Chief Mate) - Blended Learning: This blended learning program leads to the award of a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Nautical Science and fulfills part of the educational and training requirements for a Chief Mate's Unlimited Certificate of Competency. Blended learning combines self-study with college-based tuition and assessment, making this course ideal for those wanting to work towards the HND while working at sea.
  • HNC Marine Engineering (1 year, full time): This shore-based course is relevant to anyone interested in pursuing a career in general, mechanical or electrical engineering, either at sea or on shore, or who wishes to continue to further study in these fields. It would also meet some of the academic requirements for certification as a Merchant Navy Engineer Officer.
  • Deck Rating to Officer of the Watch (Unlimited) (10 months full time): This course allows experienced seafarers (deck ratings) to obtain a Certificate of Competency qualifying them to serve as a junior deck officer on merchant ships of any size operating anywhere in the world. Successful candidates will also receive a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Nautical Science.
  • Officer of the Watch <500gt (Near Coastal) (12 weeks full time): This course prepares students to sit the written and oral examinations required to obtain an Officer of the Watch, < 500 GT, Near-Coastal Area Certificate of Competency from the MCA (STCW III/3). Holders of this certificate are qualified to act as an officer of the watch on ships of less than 500 gross tonnage operating in the UK near-coastal trading area (within 150 miles of a safe haven in the UK or 30 miles of Ireland).
  • Second Engineer <3000 kW (STCW) (13 weeks): This course prepares students to sit the written and oral examinations required to obtain a Second Engineer <3,000 kW (unlimited) Certificate of Competency from the MCA (STCW III/3). Holders of this certificate are qualified to act as Second Engineer on merchant ships of less that 3,000 kW power anywhere in the world.

Merchant Navy Apprenitceships

  • Modern Apprenticeship in Maritime Occupations - Deck Rating (2 years): The programme normally requires about 24 months to complete and will require at least 14 months working at sea to gain necessary experience and sea time, as well as periods of study at the NAFC Marine Centre. During your time at sea you will have to maintain a Training Record Book which will provide evidence of your experience and that you have demonstrated that you can carry out a variety of tasks.
  • Modern Apprenticeship in Maritime Occupations - Engine Room Rating (18 months): This apprenticeship is aimed at persons wishing to work at sea as an Engine Room Rating on merchant ships. Engine Room Ratings carry out a range of important tasks on ships including the maintenance, servicing and repair of machinery and electrical systems, and assisting the engineering officer of the watch by monitoring the safe running of the engineering plant and other equipment.

Professional Maritime Courses

  • 30-hour Diesel Engine Course (MCA)
  • Basic Sea Survival
  • Capstan Safety Awareness
  • Confined Spaces Safety Awareness
  • Crane Safety Awareness
  • Designated Security Duties - Proficiency in (STCW)
  • ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems)
  • Efficient Deck Hand (EDH)
  • Elementary First Aid (STCW) - 1 day
  • Enclosed Spaces - Safe Entry (MNTB)
  • Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting (STCW) - 3 day
  • First Aid - Elementary (STCW) - 1 day
  • First Aid - Medical Care On Board Ship (STCW) - 5 day
  • First Aid - Medical First Aid (STCW) - 4 day
  • Forklift Truck Operation
  • General Operator's Certificate (GOC) - GMDSS
  • GMDSS General Operator's Certificate (GOC)
  • Harbour Crane Safety Awareness
  • HELM (Human Element, Leadership & Management) - Operational
  • Landing Crane Safety Awareness
  • Lift Truck Operation
  • MCA Approved Engine Course (AEC) - Part I
  • NAEST (Navigation Aids & Equipment Simulator Training) - Management
  • NAEST (Navigation Aids & Equipment Simulator Training) - Operational
  • Personal Safety and Social Responsibility (PSSR) (STCW)
  • Personal Survival Techniques (STCW)
  • Pressure Washing Safety Awareness
  • Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (STCW)
  • Proficiency in Medical Care On Board Ship (STCW) - 5 day
  • Proficiency in Medical First Aid (STCW) - 4 day
  • Proficiency in Security Awareness (STCW)
  • Radio - General Operator's Certificate (GOC) - GMDSS
  • Radio - Short Range (VHF) Operator's Certificate (SRC)
  • RYA Powerboat Level 2
  • Safe Entry Into Enclosed Spaces (MNTB)
  • Security - Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (STCW)
  • Security Awareness (STCW)
  • Shipboard Safety Officer (STCW)
  • Short Range (VHF) Radio Operator's Certificate (SRC)
  • Vocational Pathways (Skills4Work): Maritime Skills (S3 & S4)
  • Workboat Skipper Part 1
  • Workboat Skipper Part 2