What do Trainee Officers Study?

Ships' officers must be qualified in the competence standards required by the UN International Maritime Organization's STCW Convention (the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers). Seafarers are normally only permitted to work on internationally trading ships if issued with STCW certificates in either the deck, engine or electrical departments. These qualifications are recognised internationally.

In order to be issued with an STCW certificate, officers must normally complete a year or more of on board training at sea, in addition to their shore-based education and training in college. Depending on the national system, most newly qualified officers typically have between 3 and 4 years training - including on board training which may occur at the end of a shore-based course or be taken at intervals between shore-based courses.

Deck Officers

The following are some of the skills typically acquired by trainee deck officers, in accordance with international requirements:

• Managing a navigational watch (in effect taking charge of the ship at sea);
• planning a passage (using charts);
• using radar and high tech aids;
• radio communications (using maritime satellite systems);
• maneuvering the ship;
• cargo handling;
• crew management;
• pollution prevention;
• firefighting;
• lifeboat use; and
• medical care.



Engineer Officers

The following are some of the skills acquired by trainee engineer officers:

Marine engineering;
maintenance, repair and reassembly of shipboard engines and equipment;
electrical engineering;
electronic engineering;
control engineering;
crew management;
pollution prevention;
firefighting;
lifeboat use; and
medical care.








  • International Chamber of Shipping
  • 38 St Mary Axe, London
  • EC3A 8BH