This apprenticeship has been retired

This is not the latest approved version of this apprenticeship. View the latest version

Overview of the role

Working as part of the navigation department on ships and other vessels, keeping watch and maintaining safety and security, and carrying out a range of practical tasks.

Able seafarer (deck)

Reference Number: ST0274

Details of standard

Occupation: Able Seafarer (deck)

Role profile

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

  • MNTB(1) Entry into Enclosed Spaces certificate
  • MCA(2) Steering Certificate
  • STCW(3) 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)


Knowledge, understanding and skills

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

  1. berth, anchor and moor/unmoor the vessel ii) steer a vessel and alter course
  2. carry out look-out duties (i.e. stand a watch)
  3. operate deck equipment and machinery
  4. secure cargo on board a vessel and during bad weather and with regard to stability vi) provide and maintain access to vessels
  5. carry out deck and accommodation patrols
  6. undertake deck maintenance, repair and cleaning
  7. maintain a vessel’s weather and watertight integrity
  8. allocate and supervise minor maintenance tasks
  9. operate emergency equipment and apply emergency procedures xii) carry out fire prevention and fire-fighting duties
  10. administer emergency first aid
  11. be able to use survival techniques in the water xv) operate survival craft and rescue boats
  12. apply precautions to contribute to the prevention of pollution of the marine environment
  13. apply occupational health and safety precautions and safe working practices covering a range of activities, situations and procedures
  14. comply with statutory and industry regulations for safe working on board vessels
  15. 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 ENG1(4) 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.

English & Maths

Apprentices without level 1 English and maths will need to achieve this level and apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to take the tests for this level prior to taking the end-point assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL.


This is a Level 2, intermediate apprenticeship.


This standard will be reviewed in 3 years.

(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
(4) As specified by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency

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Status: Retired
Level: 2
Reference: ST0274
Version: 1.0
Date updated: 21/09/2022
Approved for delivery: 27 August 2015
Route: Transport and logistics
Typical duration to gateway : 18 months (this does not include EPA period)
Maximum funding: £9000
LARS Code: 34
Employers involved in creating the standard: DFDS Seaways, Carnival UK, Holyhead Towing, James Fisher (Shipping Services) Ltd, P&O Ferries, Princess Cruises, Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Royal Navy

Version log

Version Change detail Earliest start date Latest start date Latest end date
1.1 End-point assessment plan, standard and funding band revised. 25/02/2022 Not set Not set
1.0 Retired 27/08/2015 24/02/2022 Not set

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