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.


The Guidance Notice MSN 1859 (M+F) is the key document you will refer to for all yacht licences so save in a safe place for future reference.

In short:

AEC1 – entry level qualification (5-day course)

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 – highest licence

Please note that the above “Yacht” Engineering Qualifications are still available until 2021 where they will be superseded by the “Small Vessel” Engineering Qualifications.

Small Vessel

You can also apply for the Small Vessel Qualifications now which are running concurrently with the Yacht Qualifications as per the following link.

Guidance Notice MIN 524(M+F) :

III/2 chief engineer <9000kw <3000gt

III/3 chief engineer <3000kw <500gt

III/2 2nd engineer <9000kw <500gt

* As the Small Vessel licences will be superseding the Yacht licences, the MCA will assess you for eligibility for the Small Vessel licences.  This is fine if you have a HNC or HND at Chief Petty Officer level.

However, if you have around 5 years’ service in the Navy then you will not be eligible for any of the Small Vessel licences yet. Therefore, I would recommend you send a covering letter with your Letter of Initial Assessment and ask if you are exempt from the AEC1 and if you are eligible for the MEOL under the MSN 1859 (M+F) Guidance notice.


MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) exists with the Navy Surface Fleet so the MCA can easily understand terminology and transfer skills accordingly to either Yacht, Small Vessel or Commercial licences.  An MOU does not yet exist for submariners.

I advise submariners follow the Surface Fleet MOU, find yourself on that route to see what you do/don’t have in order to complete the LIA.  You must also state the name of vessel, power and total sea-time accrued.  No need to disclose confidential information but you must include the above to enable them to assess you.


Guidance Notice MIN 511 (M)

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

Letter of Initial Assessment

To transfer your Royal Navy engineering qualifications to yachting, you need to submit a “Letter of Initial Assessment (LIA)” 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 (LIA) “

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 & MIN notices.

There are now five STCW basic safety training certificates, some of which you may have from the Navy providing they haven’t expired:

Basic STCW:-

  • Personal Survival Techniques
  • Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting
  • Elementary First Aid
  • Personal Safety & Social Responsibilities
  • Proficiency in Security Awareness (or PDSD)

In addition, you will need to take advanced ancillary STCW95 courses for MEOL and above licences:

Advanced STCW:-

  • Proficiency in Survival Craft and Rescue Boats
  • Training in Advanced Fire Fighting
  • Proficiency in Medical First Aid

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

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 LIA 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). You may want to 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: [email protected]

Please note the MCA can give an exemption to the AEC1 (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 LIA 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 AEC1 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. If you have sufficient sea-time from the Navy, you may be eligible to sit the MEOL oral exam provided you have the 5 x basic STCW and 3 x advanced STCW certs with the ENG1 medical certificate.

Recommended training schools / grants:

The costs of the courses may be covered as part of your re-settlement package.

The Slater Fund

The Slater Fund, managed by the Marine Society with Nautilus International, offers Slater Scholarships of up to £18,500, with an additional discretionary £1,500 for completing the programme.

The Fund helps ratings study for the first certificate of competency, and can also help Electro-Technical Officers and yacht crew gain STCW certification.

It was established in 1977 in memory of former MNAOA General Secretary John William Slater. In the past 10 years, more than 1,000 seafarers have benefitted.

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.

Oral Prep: Shaun Towers

Ex-head of engineering at Warsash College.  Based in Southampton area but offers oral prep via skype: 

Mobile: +44 (0)7974962014

Email : [email protected]