Traditionally, in order for a superyacht captain to work on the very largest yachts, 3,000gt and larger, that captain would need to be in possession of a Master Unlimited Ticket. However, when the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) Registry introduced the RMI’s Master (Yachts) Unlimited Tonnage Certificate of Competency (CoC), the landscape somewhat changed. The RMI’s CoC has since been recognised by The Cayman Islands Registry. SuperyachtNews speaks to Captain Dale Smith, one of few holders of the certification, about the course and its relevance to the industry.
“I think this course is a necessary addition to the superyacht industry,” starts Smith. “As owners move up to the largest vessels, they are almost 100 per cent forced to take on a captain from the commercial sector. I don’t think that, in all cases, commercial captains are able to walk comfortably into this sector of the wider maritime market. It is incredibly difficult, in a short period of time, to develop the hospitality mentality, the eye for detail and the skills required for the many other quirks of this market.”
That being said, Smith is also perfectly willing to accept that there are, without doubt, a number of superyacht captains with commercial backgrounds who have stepped deftly into the superyacht market. However, that commercial captains enter the superyacht market is not the issue at hand, the issue is that, had the RMI CoC never come to be, experienced superyacht captains would have been unable to transition up to the largest vessels, essentially blocking the progress of those with yachting backgrounds.
“I had been thinking about doing the course since it first came out, I already have my Master 3,000gt and Y2, this is my 26th year in the industry and I wanted a new challenge,” continues Smith. “I decided that running a large vessel and completing the course was unfeasible, so I left the yacht and dedicated myself to the task of attaining the ticket.”
Smith explains that there were 11 elements included in the examination process, such as advanced stability, advanced meteorology, advanced ship handling and more, all of which, in terms of difficulty and depth of requisite knowledge, were far more challenging than the Master 3,000 course. These elements were tested in a variety of written and practical examinations.
The course, according to Smith, is designed to be incredibly challenging as it is not intended as another qualification that just anyone can achieve. To create such a low bar would be to encourage a proliferation of inappropriately skilled captains onto the world’s largest superyachts. As it stands, no one has passed the RMI CoC at the first attempt. “I had to resit two elements a week later,” Smith says.
“There are a couple of reasons that I did the course. However, the main reason is because the Master 3,000gt is a common qualification now,” he says. “When I got mine in 1999 it was something special. As competition for jobs increases, I wanted something that says, ‘I’ve been in the industry a long time, I’ve got plenty of experience and I know what I am doing’. Rather than being another captain with a Master 3,000gt. I am glad I did it – even if it is tough!”