Ocean Training Online has had its Officer of the Watch (OOW) for Yachts less than 3,000gt course accredited by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA), becoming the first online course to be accredited by the MCA.

The online course includes two key areas of theory – navigation and radar, and general ship knowledge. The students must then go to an established and IAMI (International Associations of Maritime Institutions)-accredited training school to do the actual OOW exam.

“These distance learning courses, approved by the MCA, mean that you can complete them in your own time without the associated costs of hotels while you study,” Ted Miley, principal of Ocean Training Online, tells The Crew Report. “This is certainly the way forward in the 21st century.”

Ocean Training Online has been producing these types of distance and blended learning course for the Royal Yachting Association for the last 20 years, and has told The Crew Report it plans to launch the MCA Master of yachts less than 200gt course and the MCA celestial navigation course in the near future.

"At present there are no plans to consider any other courses higher than OOW."

The industry is certainly seeing more distance and blended learning, but for courses that are not mandatory and do not need exams, such as some of the interior courses currently on the market. (The Crew Network, for example, is offering courses via the Marlins online training platform).

But is blended learning the future for mandatory courses? The MCA has confirmed that its approval of the OOW distance learning course “is a one-off-case based approval” and, speaking to The Crew Report, the MCA said, “At present there are no plans to consider any other courses higher than OOW.” The latter statement, however, conflicts with Ocean Training Online’s announcement of plans to launch two MCA courses in the near future, and The Crew Report is investigating this with both parties and will bring readers an update as soon as possible.

Update: 21 April, 2015

The MCA has got back to The Crew Report, stating the following:
  •  The MCA Master 2000gt requires no academic college-based study. The requirement is to complete the relevant ancillary course along with an MCA oral examination.
  • For the Celestial Navigation, an MCA exam pass is required for a UK Master 500gt Yacht CoC. This exam pass is only valid for one year.
  • Therefore, these do not fall under the same category as the blended learning for OOW Yachts less than 3,000gt.