Certificate of Competency (COC)

On 2nd June 1989, there was a notification issued by the Ministry of Surface Transport (Shipping Wing) known as the Merchant Shipping (COC) Rules,1989.  This act was introduced to improve the standards of Indian seafarers eventually increasing their proficiency in their respective departments and hence being more knowledgeable in their respective ranks onboard foreign going vessels. Certificate of Competence (COC) are documents issued by a governing body to the officers’ onboard vessels i.e., deck officers, engineers which proves that a particular seafarer has acquired that much amount of knowledge and experience in this maritime field. Thus, COC is the reflection of a seafarer’s professional competence complying with all the STCW conventions.

  • Hence the COC issued to a seafarer showcases how responsible he is for some specific functions onboard a vessel and henceforth his duties are assigned so on by the captain or chief engineer.

Certificate of Competency issued to Deck Officers:

Sequentially just after the mandatory cadetship of 18 months onboard a foreign going vessel or a Non-coastal vessel.

  1. Second mate of a foreign going ship (Promotes to the rank of 3rd Officer)
  2. Chief mate of a foreign going ship (Promotes to the rank of Chief Officer)
  3. Master of a foreign going ship (Promotes to the rank of Master or Captain)

Certificate of Competency issued to Engineers:

Sequentially just after the mandatory cadetship of 6 months onboard a foreign going vessel or a Non-coastal vessel powered by a main propulsion of 750Kw or more.

  1. MEO Class IV (Promotes to the rank of 4th Engineer)
  2. MEO Class II (Promotes to the rank of 2nd Engineer)
  3. MEO Class I (Promotes to the rank of Chief engineer)

Note: MEO stands for Marine Engineer Officer


Note: There is a different ETO COC issued to electrical engineers onboard upon completion of 8 months as a trainee Electro Technical Officer.


Moreover, there are some distinguished certificates for engineers which matters on which type of propulsion of their ship in which they sailed foe the past months. Mostly there are Steam propelled or Motor propelled ships. Steam propelled ships are mostly LNG carriers.

For eg. If your cadetship was on a steam propelled ship you have to appear for MEO Class IV Steam.

For the rank of 3rd engineer there is no such examination held as of now. It is totally upon the company when they will promote you as a 3rd engineer. Some demand experience of more than 12 months as a 4th Engineer some demand less. Overall, it’s the decision of your company.

For cadets of NCV’s (Non-Coastal vessels) they have different eligibility criteria for appearing these examinations. They may check those in DG SHIPPING

Now it should be noted that these certificates are issued only after successful completion of some mandatory training periods as junior officers. To avail these COC’s one has to hold the junior ranks for a certain period of time and then apply for the respective examinations under Directorate General of Shipping (Government of India) or any governing body which issues these competency certificates outside India (generally UK, Singapore, New Zealand, Ireland). This fact holds for both Deck officers and Engine officers.

As like as officers onboard the Crew members or Ratings (Both Engine and Deck) have a COP or Certificate of Proficiency which designates them as watchkeeping ratings onboard vessels.

Similarly Chief cooks on board vessels do have a Certificate of Competency in accordance with Merchant Shipping Rules,1991.

The various ranks in a merchant vessel as per their departments are given below in this tree diagram. each of them has their own responsibilities.


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