Nautical officer

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A nautical officer ( NO ), also navigational watch or navigator , is a conductive sailor in the merchant navy . Depending on the size of the ship, a first, second, third or fourth NO is required. In the case of larger ships, in addition to the nautical officers, technical officers are also on board, such as the chief engineer or the chief technical officer . Nautical training is a prerequisite for becoming a navigator .


First Officer

The first officer (NEO) on a ship is responsible for the seaworthiness, the proper and safe loading of the ship as well as for the maintenance and servicing of the deck area . He is also the superior of all other nautical officers, possibly also the radio officer as well as the bosun and the sailors employed on deck . In this capacity, the first officer organizes and supervises the daily operation of these areas. The first NO is directly subordinate to the master and his deputy in the event of his absence or absence.

Second officer

In most cases, the second officer performs the duties of a navigational watch officer at sea and in port and is responsible for the maintenance and care of the navigational equipment, including the nautical charts and all nautical documents and papers. Following the instructions of the master , the second officer usually plans the voyage (voyage) of the ship, taking into account the relevant national and international regulations.

Third and fourth officers

The third and possibly the fourth officer work at sea and in port like the second officer as officers on watch. In addition, the third officer is responsible for the operational readiness of the fire extinguishing and rescue facilities on board, helps with the implementation of safety maneuvers and takes on various administrative tasks.

Notwithstanding these regular assignments, the shipowners can determine additional or different areas of responsibility for these officer ranks.


The Ship Officer Training Ordinance, SchOffzAusbV for short, regulates training as a Nautical Watch Officer. The SchOffzAusbV prescribes the successful completion of an apprenticeship at a seafaring school or a university degree in nautical / maritime transport or ship operation and a minimum age of 18 years. With this training, tasks of the nautical service can be performed on all merchant vessels, except fishing vessels, in all sailing areas. After 12 months at sea as an officer in charge of the navigational watch, the certificate of competence “first officer” can be obtained. After a further, at least 24 months as officer in charge of the navigational watch, or after at least 12 months as first officer, it is possible to acquire the certificate of qualification as master. It is possible, one after the other, to combine the training for technical (C patents) and nautical (A patents) certificates of competency. The crew member who is equally qualified in both areas can then be deployed as a ship operations officer in the overall ship operation.

Career prospects

Even if more and more officers from low-wage countries are deployed in this area, the prospects for career starters look good. In addition to working on container ships or tankers, many German ship officers do their duty on cruise ships. After obtaining the captain's license, however, many nautical officers look for employment on land, for example as a pilot .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Appendix 1 to § 2 See-BV
  2. Nautical officer assistant on the website