Able Seafarer - Deck

An Able Seafarer (deck) works as a member of the navigation department on board ships and vessels of different types and sizes, carrying out watchkeeping duties; maintaining the safety and security of the vessel, cargo and personnel on board; and undertaking a range of practical seafarer skills covering ropework, anchoring and mooring activities and operations.

An able seafarer will work a shift rota over a twenty four hour time span. He/she will work on his or her own and as a member of a team - which is likely to include seafarers from a range of different nationalities. He/she must adhere to safe and environmentally responsible working practices and international regulations, without endangering themselves, others or the marine environment, and will have a range of security duties. An able seafarer must be able to work safely in enclosed spaces and at heights, and must also be able to respond to vessel emergencies; administer emergency first aid; carry out fire prevention and fire-fighting duties; be able to use survival techniques in the water; and be able to operate survival craft and rescue boats. The qualifications and certification achieved by an able seafarer means he/she will be able to work on board any type and size of ship in any part of the world. Seafarer regulations are set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and are known as the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) and are put into effect in the UK by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).



The training for an able seafarer will need to include a period of time being taught basic practical seafarer and watchkeeping skills and related underpinning knowledge and theory, interspersed with application of these skills during onboard practice and to comply with international and national sea time requirements. Coupled with required periods of leave, it is expected that minimum completion time of the apprenticeship will be around 18-24 months (including sea time).


Qualifications and certification

All of the following are mandatory:

- Level 2 Award in Maritime Studies: Deck Rating

- Level 2 Certificate in Maritime Studies: Able Seafarer (Deck)

- together these qualifications cover regulatory fire fighting, first aid, survival in the water, safety and social responsibility

- MNTB1 Entry into Enclosed Spaces certificate

- MCA2 Steering Certificate

- STCW3 Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats Certificate

- STCW Proficiency in Designated Security Duties

- STCW Navigational Watch Rating Certificate (including 2 months statutory sea time)

- MCA Efficient Deck Hand Certificate (including 12 months statutory sea time)


1 MNTB = Merchant Navy Training Board: this certificate is an industry requirement

2 Maritime and Coastguard Agency

3 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping


Knowledge, understanding and skills

An able seafarer will use practical seafarer and watchkeeping knowledge and understanding to apply their skills to:

i) berth, anchor and moor/unmoor the vessel

ii) steer a vessel and alter course

iii) carry out look-out duties (i.e. stand a watch)

iv) operate deck equipment and machinery

v) secure cargo on board a vessel and during bad weather and with regard to stability

vi) provide and maintain access to vessels

vii) carry out deck and accommodation patrols

viii) undertake deck maintenance, repair and cleaning ix) maintain a vessel’s weather and watertight integrity

x) allocate and supervise minor maintenance tasks

xi) operate emergency equipment and apply emergency procedures

xii) carry out fire prevention and fire-fighting duties

xiii) administer emergency first aid

xiv) be able to use survival techniques in the water

xv) operate survival craft and rescue boats

xvi) apply precautions to contribute to the prevention of pollution of the marine environment

xvii) apply occupational health and safety precautions and safe working practices covering a range of activities, situations and procedures

xviii) comply with statutory and industry regulations for safe working on board vessels

xix) understand obligations for the security of the vessel, and its cargo and passengers


Entry requirements

Apprentices will need to be able to pass the medical entry requirements as defined in international regulations (i.e. the ENG14 Seafarer Medical Certificate, including eyesight requirements). Individual employers will determine their own selection criteria and will need to be confident that potential apprentices have the aptitude and ability to assimilate the learning and develop the required practical skills and competences, and to work in a multicultural environment on board a vessel, which may be away from home for extended periods of time.



This is a Level 2, intermediate apprenticeship.



This standard will be reviewed in 3 years


Originally published on, this information has been re-used under the terms of the Open Government Licence.


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