UK MCA: Changes to Yacht Crew Certification

17 May 2017

There have been changes made to the Sea Service Verification for Crew on large commercial and privately owned yachts, as well as training vessels, arriving with the newly updated Marine Information Note (“MIN”) 543(M)
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/min-543-m-sea-service-verification-on-large-yachts

The notice sets out the changes that have been made that will affect crew of any large commercial or private yacht when applying for renewal of their Certificates of Competency (CoC) or Notice of Eligibility (NoE) in the future.

Previously, as well as allowing  direct applications, the MCA informally delegated authority for these applications to be dealt with by the Professional Yachting Association (“PYA”) and the international maritime profession’s  union, Nautilus International (“Nautilus”). The  MIN formalises this arrangement and sets out the requirements for crew on large yachts for the foreseeable future. The changes take effect on 24 May 2017.

The MCA requires, prior to renewal of CoC or NoE, evidence of qualifying sea service  (Sea Service Testimonials- SSTs).  The recommended route is for the seaman to maintain a record of his sea service using log books provided by the PYA or Nautilus.

The PYA or Nautilus, as competent and authorised bodies, will vet applications.  This may involve contacting the person named in the log book as certifying the sea service for confirmation of its veracity.  Once satisfied the PYA or Nautilus will stamp the log book  (dated and with the name of the person who carried out the vetting). The MCA will accept duly vetted log books as evidence of a verified Sea Service Testimonial.
The requirements are set out in detail in the body of the MIN notice but in general the MCA places the responsibility on crew to have their documentation in good order in a timely manner.
Owners and operators should note that, in the case of direct applications to the MCA, omitting the PYA / Nautilus vetting process it may take up to 160 days for the application. Applications that are turned down will have to be resubmitted, potentially doubling the 160 day period.

This will significantly impact on crewmembers’ employability and may mean that either the crewmember may be unable to sail, or that crew, and perhaps the vessel, will  be without the proper certification which can result in serious fines for the owner of the vessel and potential prosecution of the crewmember via the MCA Enforcement Branch.

Owners and Operators are recommended to ensure that all crew maintain an approved Service Record Book (Nautilus or PYA) with signed and stamped entries recording sea service. Applications for CoCs and NoEs should be made in good time.


We are grateful to Marine Response for their permission to publish this Circular