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Update on the MCA ship’s cook certificate requirements

4th Sep 2014

While the Ship’s Cook Certificate is here to stay, the UK Administration ( MCA) is actively engaging with the yachting community to provide solutions so everyone can become compliant under the amended MCL 2006 regulations. Here the Professional Yachting Association explains the current status quo with regards to obtaining the necessary paperwork.

Although the requirement for all commercially registered yachts with more than 10 crew to have a certified Ship’s Cook onboard came into force on 1st August 2014*, there is no need to panic just yet if you or your chef are not certified. The good news is that for UK flagged vessels the MCA has proposed that existing yacht chefs in this category be allowed to continue without certificates in their current positions for 6 months. This will give them until 5th February 2015 to complete the required conversion assessment.

1. What do the regulations say?

If you find yourself in this position here’s what you need to know in order to obtain your Ship’s Cook Certificate:

Here are the links to the regulations so you can read in detail what the requirements are:  MSN 1846 Food and Catering Ship's Cooks and Catering Staff.

2. What certificate do you need?

Under MLC  2006, Regulation 3.2, where all MCL compliant vessels carry 10 or more crew, there is a requirement for the person(s) responsible for processing food in the galley, to hold a recognised Ships Cook Certificate.  It is also a requirement for anyone who assists in food preparation to hold a recognised Food and Catering qualification (this might include interior crew), qualified with food hygiene and food safety in Catering (as per Annex 1 in MGN 1846). For the Food Hygiene and Food Safety qualifications (Annex 1) please refer to MIN 479 for recognized courses. Please ensure the correct relevant qualification number is on the certificate issued.

3. Are you working on a smaller yacht?

If that is the case the Ship’s Cook Certificate may not be a requirement for you right now in your current position. The Ship's Cook Certificate (SCC) is only required for chefs onboard MLC compliant commercial Yachts with 10 or more crew. These yachts must have a qualified person (SCC) onboard  (unless exemption has been given from Flag). However, if you have plans to move to a larger yacht in the future it may be worth your while getting the certification now so that you can move when the opportunities arise.

4. How relevant are your existing qualifications?

The MCA however, have changed the goal post regarding those with existing qualifications. According to the now revised regulations: Cooks who already hold recognized formal cooking qualifications plus the Food Safety or Food Hygiene, can apply with the following criteria: Basic STCW 95 certificate, a seafarer's medical certificate and one month of sea service as well as the Ships Cook Assessment (known as Assessment in Marine Cookery) . A PYA service record book is accepted evidence of sea time served (please find the required testimonial at www.pya.org).

5. How do you know if your formal qualifications are acceptable for the Food Hygiene or Food Safety in Catering?

The minimum standard required for the learning outcomes in Annex 1 and 2 are equivalent to a Level 2 qualification issued in England and Northern Ireland, which is not expected to be higher than the UK qualification frameworks including Level 3 EQF, Level 2 CQFW, Level 5 SCQF and Level 4 NFQIE.

6. What about those who already hold qualifications as Cooks under a formal further education frameworks?

The latest from the MCA is that ALL those wishing to apply for the Ships Cook Certificate, regardless of qualification held (unless it is an existing valid Ships Cook Certificate of Competency), will have to pass the Assessment in Marine Cookery (2.5day Ships Cook Assessment).

The MCA will be issuing a statement shortly on the amendment regarding those who have qualifications as Cooks or Chefs under the UK Further Education qualification framework.

Those coming from shorebased cooking backgrounds (ie and non-maritime backgrounds), and with no formal qualifications, will have to produce evidence of at least 12 months of working in a shorebased catering establishment as well as pass the Assessment in Marine Cookery (2.5day Ships Cook Assessment).

Those coming from a maritime background will also need to provide evidence of at least 1 month of sea service. Again a PYA service record book is accepted evidence of sea time served (please find the required testimonial at www.pya.org ).

Chefs / Cooks who hold formal qualifications recognized by their own Administrations can apply directly with their Administrations for the Ships Cook Certificate, if that Administration has been ratified under MLC. The MCA will accept Ship's Cooks certificates issued by EU Member states and other Administrations after the date on which they ratify the MLC.  Other arrangements for non EU and non MLC signatories will be made in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding. Certificates of Equivalent Competency are referred to in section 5 of MSN 1846.

7. Where can you get qualified if you are just starting out with Food Safety or Food Hygiene courses?

A recent revision of the Virtual College Food Safety online courses has resulted in the MCA confirming that this certification will be accepted. However, you will be required to hold the full qualification, therefore you will be required to undertake an additional assessment by visiting an accredited test centre. It is recommended that you complete a formal Food Safety or Food Hygiene module by a recognized awarding body.

8. How can I gain the Ships Cook qualification and assessment?

Currently the only Training Provider who is accredited by the MCA to run the 2.5 day Ships Cook Assessment is Bluewater Yachting (in conjunction with Secrets du Cuisine) in Antibes, France.

You can go though alternative routes to certification, by attending the UK South Tyneside College and complete either the full level 2 diploma plus the 4 week training for “Marine Cookery for Qualified Chefs” unit (for those with no cooking training or experience) or for experienced cooks with over two years experience, the 4 week training for “Marine Cookery for Experienced Chefs” unit. Please be advised to gain further information about the entry requirements and courses from their website.

*Please note other flag state requirements may vary and you may not need a ship's cook certificate if onboard a non UK registered yacht, however obtaining this certificate will be of benefit to you for potential future career moves. 

For further queries or information about the Ship’s Cook Certificate please contact info@pya.org.

by Camper Nicholsons

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