How To Pursue A Career In Engineering On Super Yachts

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Duties of a Yacht Engineer

Yacht Engineers are responsible for the mechanical, electrical, electronic hydraulic and even structural systems and operations on a super yacht. The number of Engineers required on a yacht will depend on it’s size, utilization and vessel type but could range from a sole Engineer to more than 5 Engineers.

What skills are expected from a Super Yacht Engineer

A Yacht Engineer must have the ability to plan, organize and manage projects wrt maintenance and implementation of new technology. In senior roles the ability to manage a team is advantageous. It is not only technical abilities that defines a good engineer. The ability to utilize software programs applied especially on larger yachts with more than 1 engineer is important in modern times. In the event of breakdowns or unforeseen maintenance requirements this department is under pressure to minimize downtime and financial losses in the case of Charter Yachts. It is often the Hotel systems on larger yachts accommodating large number of guests that requires immediate and prompt reaction.The training and experience of the Engineering Department is tested to it’s fullest during these situations.

Qualifications Required to be an Engineer on a Super Yacht

There are 2 routes to become an Engineer on a Super Yacht. One is a cadetship on big commercial vessels which will not be dealt with now. These programs have their advantages but also disadvantages primarily time of 3 years attached to the program.

The Yacht Certification route is the most popular route to become an Engineer on a Super Yacht.

This route offers 6 Certificates:

The Approved Engine Course (AEC 1) – this is an introductory course to diesel engines and engineering on a Super Yacht of over 24m LOA and often required by Super Yachts as a bare minimum for appointment as a Deck Crew member. This course is normally 4 – 5 days.

The Approved Engine Course (AEC 2)– this is a more practical extension of the AEC 1 course and only recently introduced by the MCA. It’s duration is also 4 – 5 days. This is advisable for Deck Crew planning to pursue a career as Engineer or just have a more advanced knowledge of diesel engines to occasionally assist the full time Engineer on the yacht. Technical skills is a critical skill onboard Super Yachts and will always be in your favour when job hunting. Yachts deploying a sole engineer would require additional skills from the Deck Crew.

The Marine Engine Operators License (MEOL) –  requires sea service as junior engineer /assistant , shore based training and an oral exam.

Y4 Engineer  –           Commonly known as the first of the Y Ticket. Allows Engineers to work as Chief Engineer on Yachts between 200 and 500 GT and up to 1500KW propulsive power

Y3 Engineer  –           Engineer is allowed to work as Chief Engineer on Yachts up to 300GT and 3000KW propulsive power

Y2 Engineer  –           Engineer is allowed to work as Chief Engineer on Yachts up to 3000GT and 6000KW propulsive power

Y1 Engineer  –           Engineer is allowed to work as Chief Engineer on Yachts up to 3000GT and 9000 KW propulsive power

Herewith an example of a Structure within the Engineering Department aboard a yacht:

The structure of the Engineering Department will depend on the size and complexity of systems aboard the yacht. The Engineer Dept head will work closely with the Yacht Captain on technical matters ranging from technical, electrical, structural matters including compliance issues. Engineering duties will be scaled amongst the engineers according to seniority and experience. The Motorman focuses on the maintenance of the engines and engine room systems where as the officers will  primarily focus on all systems and compliance issues.

In the case of smaller yachts a sole engineer will be applied to perform all of the above duties. On these yachts  the Owner or Managing Agent of the yacht will require a Captain or senior person aboard to have some technical experience to act as back up in case of unforeseen events of incapacity or assistance required.


So, how and where do you start to get your career going?

Before any Recruitment Agency or Yacht Owner/Captain will consider your appointment on a Super Yacht, the following basic certificates must be obtained:

  • STCW
  • ENG1
  • AEC 1 (Not essential for Deck Crew)

Next step should you be considering the lucrative engineering field from the bottom up:

  • AEC 2 Course
  • MEOL Course
  • MTU  Course (Optional – this certification allows an engineer to service and maintain MTU engines commonly used on Super Yachts. This certification is important to maintain warrantees and insurance. Yacht Owner/Captain would prefer in house engineers to service their Engines instead of contract workers, especially when doing long distance sea crossings)
  • Sea service as (junior) engineer.

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