Ships Cook Qualification - THE TRUTH

By now you will have heard of the new requirements for Ships Cook qualification under the Maritime Labour Convention and how these are being interpreted by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency. We have had a lot of concerned yacht crew contacting us recently and there has clearly been quite a lot of misinformation. I thought I would dispel some of the myths and to give some clear reliable guidance on the matter.

Firstly, the new requirements relate to UK flagged commercial (charter) yachts: crew cooking on private yachts are not affected by these rules. Secondly crew cooking on yachts with less than 10 crew are also not affected at all.

For those vessels to which the rules do apply, the MCA has granted a grace period for compliance which will finish on 5th February 2015. After this date a yacht will be considered non-compliant if it falls under the new rules and does not carry a qualified cook. The MCA has fully recognised that many chefs working in superyachts are more than competent by the very nature of what we do as an industry. It is for this reason that they have introduced the ‘Ships Cook Assessment’, a 2.5 day practical and theoretical test designed to ‘spot check’ the competencies required of a qualified ships cook and to allow a quick and simple route to compliance. 

How to get a Ships Cook CoC

To be eligible to gain a Ship Cook Certificate of Competency by the assessment route you need :

1. To be at least 18 years old

2. To complete STCW 5 element crew basic training

3. To hold an ENG1 medical fitness certificate (or recognised equivalent)

4. To hold a recognised Food Safety Certificate.  

5. To have the following qualifications or experience (sea service testimonials are needed in all cases):
a. UK Level 2 cookery qualification (e.g. City and Guilds) and 1 months sea service as a cook OR
b. One years cooking experience in a shoreside kitchen plus 1 months sea service as a cook OR
c. One years sea service as a ships cook (on a private or smaller yacht) OR
d. Fishing Cook certificate and at least 1 months sea service. 

6. Pass the Ship's Cook Assessement

7. Apply to the MCA to receive a Ships Cook Certificate of Competency

Ships Cook Assessment

Bluewater, in partnership with Secrets de Cuisine, a culinary school based in Antibes, is the first organisation to be able to offer this assessment. Other assessment centres will soon be set up.

Below is a video from Secrets de Cuisine featuring the Ships Cook Assessment Course. If you have any questions feel free to get in touch with our training department at