The STCW Code is a living document and undergoes routine updating as part of the goal of creating a safer maritime industry and protecting our environment. Many flag states continue to work to harmonize training and certification needs to comply with the updated Code changes. The engineer’s role hasn’t changed much, except for the added technology and administrative functions, but their job has grown more complicated as vessels have. Those crew seeking an engineering career have trained in various courses depending on flag state and nationality, but under STCW III/1, all of those seeking to serve as an engineering officer on commercial vessels 500 GT or larger, driven by main propulsion machinery of 1,000 hp/750 kW or more, must comply with the same regulatory requirements.
The Officer in Charge of Engineering Watch (OICEW) oversees the ship’s main propulsion plant, and of the associated auxiliaries during watch times as well as assisting the chief engineer in the administration of the engine room during routine operations and emergencies. The OICEW duties include monitoring the mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, and control equipment, in charge of the sophisticated engine management systems, machinery maintenance, and more.
The engineer’s role hasn’t changed much, except for the added technology and administrative functions, but their job has grown more complicated as vessels have.
OICEW candidates are required to have 1,080 days of seagoing service in the engine department. The sea service must include evidence of engine room watchkeeping duties, under the supervision of an officer holding the STCW endorsement as chief engineer officer or as a qualified engineer officer, for not less than six months. Since many vessels do not have manned engine rooms, experience with engine room maintenance, which includes duties under direct supervision of the chief engineer, second engineer officer/first assistant engineer, and/or the officer in charge of the watch may be substituted for watchkeeping experience.
There are training requirements that must be completed in addition to sea service, as well as completing a Record of Assessment in order to provide evidence of competency under Section A-III/1. Courses such as Engine Room Management, Proficiency in Survival Craft, and others may be applicable depending on service. For example, if you intend to work aboard steam- or gas turbine-equipped vessels, there are specialized courses to complete to serve as an OICEW.
There are differences in the guidance for the UK EOOW CoC and there are additional routes available under the MNTB. Research the best route given your experience, nationality, and industry. The training, sea service, and assessment criteria can be daunting, but don’t let that deter you from pursuing your dreams — an experienced career counselor can walk you through the regulations. The training will be an invaluable foundation.
This article originally ran in the February 2021 issue of Dockwalk.