'Sea time', required for crew to work their way up the career ladder and reach their next Certificate of Competency (CoC), has for some time been a contentious topic in the superyacht industry, with many yachts’ natural habits dictating they remain stationary and in port for much of the year, which has resulted in crew and captains signing this off as sea time, despite not actually being at sea. After years of lobbying from various groups, including the Professional Yachting Association (PYA), the Maritime and Coastgaurd Agency (MCA) is taking steps to amend sea time requirements for crew on smaller vessels than those in the merchant world, including superyachts.

“Currently it can take many years for yacht engineers to gain the sea service requirements due to the nature and activity of the yachting sector compared to most other commercial sectors. Therefore yacht engineers have been disadvantaged by the inability to gain sea time through no fault of their own,” commented the PYA’s engineering workgroup.

The new initiative proposes two changes to the current sea service requirements. First, sea service for yachts pertaining to actual days at sea, or underway time, is being proposed as representative of 1.5 of days at sea. Therefore, what in the past was a nine-month qualifying period, would become just a six-month qualifying period. Second, it is proposed that time spent at anchor, in port or during refit may count towards 25 per cent of the total sea service required for yacht engineers.

“The preparation and subsequent immediate notice for main propulsion and the amount of auxiliary machinery running, such as generators, air-conditioning, refrigeration, hydraulics, cranes, lifts, davits, winches, sewage treatment plants, oily water separators and recreation craft to name but a few, were not properly appreciated or recognised,” added the PYA’s engineering workgroup. Now however, the type of vessel, engine size and amount of underway sea time has been included to try and make what the engineer workgroup has named a 'one-size fits all CoC', intended to be more relevant and fair for those working on small vessels such as superyachts, smaller yachts, fishing vessels, tugs and workboats.

The PYA, Chamber of Shipping and MCA are also in discussions as to a new engineering training route that would comprise a combination of on-board Training Record Books, online learning and classroom time, as such reducing the time off engineers currently need to study and take exams, which in the past has sometimes resulted in engineers quitting their on board employment altogether.

It is not yet apparent how the wider industry would respond to the proposed amendments to sea time requirements for yacht engineers, however in an industry that is difficult to compare to any other, there is little doubt superyacht engineers will find fault with requirements that are better suited to the industry.

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