Level 3 Officer of the Watch (Near Coastal)

Course Overview

This Apprenticeship has been developed in collaboration with employers and we will work to ensure that it continues to meet the needs and requirements of the industry.

The Officer of the Watch (Near Coastal) qualification is for individuals working on a wide range of specialist commercial vessels such as tugs, fishing boats and workboats working close to the shore, in waters designated by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency as “near coastal” (an area of operation restricted to 150 miles from a safe haven on the coast of the UK and 30 miles from Ireland). These vessels cannot be more than 500 gross tonnage.



Course Length

30-36 months 

12-15 months for experienced seafarers

Levy Funding

Maximum £15,000 - Non levy employer contribution (5%)

Apprentice Requirements

Have the right to work in England.

Be 18 or older.

Enthusiasm and a willingness to learn your chosen trade.

Dedication and commitment to coursework and the job.

Obtain a Maritime and Coastguard Agency ENG medical (medical fitness certificate)

English and Maths GCSE (or equivalent) grade C or 4. If you do not meet the Maths and English requirements, The Marine Society will assist you in gaining your Functional Skills qualification prior to End Point Assessment.


Level 3 Diploma in Maritime Studies: Officer of the Watch on Merchant Vessels of less than 500 Gross Tonnage (Near Coastal)



By the end of the apprenticeship, an officer of the watch will be able to do the following:


  • Navigational skills: Develop a thorough understanding of maritime charts, navigation techniques and the instruments required for safely manoeuvring a vessel.


  • Ship Handling: Develop the ability to handle ships in various conditions, such as entering and leaving ports, anchoring and conducting manoeuvring exercises.


  • Watchkeeping Duties: Know how to perform watch duties, ensure safe navigation of vessels, adhere to collision avoidance regulations and maintain communication with relevant parties.


  • Safety Procedures: Trained in emergency response procedures, implementing appropriate safety measures and conducting regular safety drills.


  • Maritime Regulations: Understand and comply with international regulations and conventions governing safe navigation, pollution prevention, and maritime security.


  • Teamwork and communication: Develop effective communication skills to coordinate with bridge team members, crew, and shore-based personnel.



Career Options and Progression

This qualification can lead to progression within the maritime sector, particularly when it is taken as a component of an Apprenticeship in Maritime Occupations. Completion of this qualification can lead to career progression to Master of a vessel less than 500 gross tonnage (near coastal).

Occupational Map


Further information

Apprenticeship Standard and End Point Assessment

Level 3 Diploma in Maritime Studies: Officer of the Watch on Merchant Vessels of less than 500 gross tonnage (Near Coastal)

Funding opportunities - Maritime Educational Foundation (meftraining.org)