Deck (navigation) Officer - Higher National Diploma Programme

Course Type:
STCW ➜ OOW (Deck)
Training School:
Warsash Maritime School
Southampton, United Kingdom

This fully-sponsored cadet training programme leads to an HND Nautical Science, as well as the award of a UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Certificate of Competency (STCW95 II/I OOW).

Officer cadet training schemes typically last for around three years and are split into five phases which alternate between academic studies, practical experience and safety training at the Warsash campus and seagoing periods to gain practical shipboard experience.

You'll complete your academic and mandatory safety training with us. This training is complemented with work-based learning on board ship. You'll also do some practical training during your sea phases, which includes completing a MNTB Training Record Book. This will enable you to develop the professional competency needed for the initial MCA certification as an Officer of the Watch.

The scheme consists of five phases - three spent at Warsash Maritime School and two at sea gaining practical experience. The training consists of four distinct but complementary elements:

  • A higher education entry course, designed to prepare new entrants for study at HND level.
  • Academic education to attain the HND in Nautical Science and the underpinning knowledge (UPK) requirements for the MCA/SQA written examinations.
  • Practical training on board ship, including completion of an MNTB Training Record Book. This enables candidates to develop the professional competency needed for initial certification by the UK’s MCA.
  • In addition to the academic studies, the MCA requires officer cadets to take a number of safety and survival courses during their cadetship.

Entry requirements

Four GCSEs at grade 9 to 4 (A* to C), including:

  • Mathematics (preferably Higher Tier)
  • Science (with significant Physical Science content)
  • English or a subject using English (for example, history, geography, RE)


Passes in four subjects in the Scottish Certificate of Education (as above)


Passes in four subjects in the Northern Ireland Grammar School Senior Certificate Exam (as above).

Medical requirements

Officer cadets must be in good health and capable of passing the Merchant Navy Medical Examination (ENG1). Navigation officer cadets must also have normal colour vision and be able to pass the MCA sight test, although corrective lenses may be acceptable in certain cases.

Anyone contemplating a career as a ship’s officer would be well advised to take a medical examination and sight test as soon as possible to find out if there are any physical bars to their career aspirations.

The MCA holds a list of approved doctors throughout the UK who are able to provide ENG1 seafarer medical examinations.


British shipping companies will normally only recruit UK or European Union nationals. However, the MCA certificates of competency may be awarded to people of any nationality and the training programmes are open to all.

A potential international candidate from outside the UK and EU should secure sponsorship from a suitable shipping company that will be able to provide appropriate sea service as part of the cadetship programme.

International students should also hold a formal International English Language Testing System (IELTS) certificate of at least 5.5, as a good knowledge of written and spoken technical English is required to commence the programme.

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Warsash Maritime School

4.4 average rating Read reviews

St Mary's Campus,
Chapel Road
SO14 5GL
United Kingdom

Tel: (+44) 02382013074
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