At the end of 2016, representatives of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Registry and the Cayman Islands Shipping Registry met to discuss the RMI’s Master (Yachts) Unlimited Tonnage Certificate of Competency (CoC). The Cayman Islands then announced their official recognition of the Certificate.
According to SuperyachtIntelligence.com, a total of 49 yachts over 3,000gt have been delivered to date. The RMI's CoC has been designed to allow owners and managers to keep their working relationships with trusted and experienced yacht captains, who now have the possibility to continue their yachting careers over the MCA and USCG’s traditional limit of 3,000gt.
The RMI Registry, in coordination with Maritime Professional Training (MPT) in Fort Lauderdale, has created the Capstone Course, which is a rigorous five day training and evaluation course that includes a written multiple choice exam and simulator assessment in order to determine the candidates’ knowledge and experience in command of large yachts.
Safety has been kept at the forefront of the new route and candidates will need to meet all the STCW instructional and sea time prerequisites, which are quite substantial. They will need to possess the knowledge underpinning the assessment for up to the Chief Mate Unlimited certificate (as per Table A II/2 Management Level of vessels of over 3,000gt), bar the cargo modules.
The MPT website notes that, prior to enrolling, candidates must apply to the captain John Hafner at the Marshall Islands with their experience, qualifications and proof or prerequisite training for approval to take the course and assessment. At this point, if the candidates qualify, they are referred to MPT.
Essentially it means that yacht-experienced captains will be able to run RMI and Cayman Islands-flagged superyachts with tonnage in excess of 3,000gt, provided that they give evidence of the required sea service, the pre-requisite courses and pass the relevant five-day Capstone Course and assessment for the qualification.
The news is one step further towards giving any experienced yacht captain the opportunity to continue their captaincy further than the current 3,000gt glass ceiling, rather than starting their tickets again through the commercial unlimited route.
It is evidence of these Flag States’ openness to evolve and respond to a changing market that continually sees bigger superyachts being delivered. The owners of these yachts over 3,000gt will continue to want experienced captains who have had successful careers within the superyacht industry, as opposed to being limited to a choice of captains mainly from a commercial background.
During the 2016 Monaco Yacht Show, the MCA’s Roger Towner even alluded to the prospect of the Agency looking towards accepting it in the future, once more information has been communicated. It will be interesting to see the uptake of the new ticket, which is certain to grow in popularity as the fleet expands in size and volume.