Royal Navy to Super Yacht Engineer licence requirements

The essential part – what you need to do to transfer your Royal Navy engineering qualifications to join the Super Yacht industry:

MCA (Maritime Coastal Agency) – Engineering qualifications/licences

Please note specific MCA certificates are required to work on Super Yachts. This is why we would like to hear from you at least eight months before your release date so that we can organize your plan of action.

The MCA are the governing body for the super yacht industry and the yachts require engineers to hold specific Licences depending on their specification and itinerary.

If you click on the following it will tell you about the entry level qualifications through to the professional and what is involved/required for each licence.

Use the Search option and type “ MSN 1859. “

Click on the link to view the guidance notice which will explain the requirements for engineers to work on board super yachts. The MSN 1859 is the key document you will refer to for all yacht licences so print or save in a safe place for future reference. (NB this has now replaced the MGN 156 notice.)

In short:

AEC – entry level qualification (5-day course, no exam)

MEOL – intermediary qualification attained after sea/service time

Y4 – this is the first licence applicable to chief & 2nd engineers

– this is usually the benchmark for qualified Royal Navy engineers holding the RN EOOW



Y1 – class 1 and class 2 endorsements (highest licence)

In addition, commercial licences run parallel to this. EOOW is usually the benchmark for qualified Royal Navy engineers holding the RN EOOW.

To transfer your Royal Navy engineering qualifications to yachting, you need to submit a “Letter of Initial Assessment (LoIA)” to the MCA. In principal, you are asking them to assess your background and confirm which yachting and commercial licence your training is equivalent to.

Or use the search option and type “letter of initial assessment (LoIA) “

In brief, one must print off a form – Letter of Initial Assessment, submit all original papers – HND, engineering qualifications, evidence of sea/service time etc and they will come back to you in 6-8 months, hopefully with a “Notice of Eligibility” (NOE) for either of the above certificates.

Please note that each of these certificates requires a certain amount of sea-time which is stated in the MSN notice.

In addition, you will need to take advanced ancillary STCW95 courses – Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats, Training in Advanced Fire Fighting and Proficiency in Medical First Aid.

For Y4/EOOW licences and above, you will also need the HELM certificate (Human Element Leadership & Management).

With effect from 01/07/15 you will also need the PSA certificate (Proficiency in Security Awareness) to work on board a vessel 500gt and above to comply with the provisions of the ISPS code.

The costs of these courses should be covered as part of your re-settlement package.

You will also need to obtain an “ENG1” which is a medical certificate issued by an MCA approved doctor. This states that you are fit for work and needs to be renewed every 2 years.

The LoIA may also state that you are eligible to take the MCA Y4 or Y3 exam and in addition, the commercial equivalent Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW). We advise that you consider taking both the yacht and commercial oral exams. Certain yachts require commercial licences due to the technical specification so having both licences can open more opportunities.

Contact MCA examiners if you have any queries:

Please note the MCA can give an exemption to the AEC (Approved Engine Course) at the Letter of Initial Assessment stage provided the applicant submits sufficient evidence that they have completed a relevant qualification related to marine diesel engines, they have experience working on marine diesel engines, and experience with the operational maintenance and repair of marine diesel engines. You will need to request an exemption in your covering letter when you submit your LoIA application.

If an engineer already has a Letter of Initial Assessment he/she may send evidence of the above and they will issue a letter confirming exemption from the AEC course.

The MCA are unable to grant exemptions to the MEOL(Y) since this always involves completing a period of sea service, the basic & advanced ancillary safety courses and the MCA oral exam.

Recommended training schools:

  • Warsash Maritime Academy, Southampton – STCW courses and all Yacht Engineering qualifications AEC – Y1

  • John Percival Marine Associates (Hoylake Sailing School), Liverpool – some STCW and Yacht Engineering qualifications, very good oral exam prep courses.

  • Useful website to review some of the Super Yachts worldwide

  • Or search Google for “ yachtspotter yacht cards.” Select a yacht by alphabetical order and it will give you the technical specifications and some relevant information.