Armed forces personnel possess many skills and characteristics sought after by the commercial shipping and maritime industry. Many former military personnel have made a successful transition to a second career in the Merchant Navy, both at sea and ashore, working as watchkeepers, in customer services, human resources, security, education or operational/logistics management.
For watchkeeping officers there are mechanisms that permit recognition of military experience and qualifications and fast track attainment of a commercial Certificate of Competency (CoC). Download the Royal Navy to Merchant Navy transfer flow diagrams for deck officers for further guidance. Full details can be found in the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Merchant Shipping Notice MSN 1856.
For RN personnel wishing to pursue a career as an engineer officer in commercial shipping, our advice would be to first write to the MCA to obtain a Letter of Initial Assessment. This sets out the exemptions given to candidates based on their prior experience in the RN (or other part of the Forces). RN personnel need to complete the MSF 4352 application. Download the Royal Navy to Merchant Navy transfer flow diagrams for engineer officers for further guidance.
Other useful links
The MCA's general applications for seafarer certificates information may be useful, depending on individual circumstances. The MCA website also has a large amount of information on training and certification for working at sea.
ELCAS (Enhanced Learning Credits) and Solent University
You can use your credits for a variety of our maritime short courses as well as the University's undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Our Learning Provider ID is 1876, please type the name Solent University into the provider name search option on the ELCAS website.
If you're looking for courses to transfer your skills for a career change, click on the links below:
- Maritime security
- Maritime safety management
- Navigation and radio communications
- Merchant Navy certification - navigation (unlimited)
- Merchant Navy certification - engineering/ETO (unlimited)
- Yacht certification - navigation
- Yacht/small vessel certification - engineering
Transferring skills for superyachts
The superyacht sector is driven by exemplary customer service and superyacht owners and their guests expect a first-rate experience. Delivering on this expectation requires elite professional crews and shore-based staff who are trained to the highest possible standards
Many military skills, such as discipline, commitment, integrity, punctuality, presentation, ability to work under pressure, long hours, security awareness, and ability to take orders are often sought after by employers and are quite easily transferable to the superyacht industry.
For RN personnel wishing to pursue a career as a deck officer or chief engineer on a yacht, the best advice is to write to the MCA first to obtain a Letter of Initial Assessment (LIA). This sets out the exemptions based on your prior experience in the RN (or other part of the Forces).
We have helped many ex-forces personnel move into the superyacht industry and other maritime sectors. We can advise on how to obtain the LIA, as well as assist with the 'interpretation' of it. The latter sounds simple but can be occasionally a daunting task.
The next steps to working on a superyacht:
- Complete the four mandatory STCW basic safety training courses.
- Obtain an ENG1 seafarer medical certificate.
- Update your CV to include all seafaring experience.
- Check your military qualifications are transferable to commercial yachts - most yacht courses are a one-week duration and many of these courses are ELC funded - search for our yacht courses on the ELCAS website.
- Talk to specialist superyacht crewing agencies for advice and information on recruitment.