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Maritime Navigation

The Navigation Department is responsible for training Navigating/Deck officers of a marine vessel who are responsible for ensuring safe and efficient passage from one point to another, whether it’s across seas, rivers, or any other navigable waterway. This department on a marine vessel is essential for overseeing the ship’s course, maintaining navigation equipment, and adhering to international maritime regulations.

Deck Officer Training/Nautical Studies

To become a Deck Officer, you have to study Nautical Science. It consists of three main elements, namely:

  • Navigation and ship handling,
  • Safe operation of a ship, and
  • Shipboard administration and handling of cargoes

Candidate wishing to follow the path of Deck Officer training must have a Grade 12 certificate with good grades in English, Mathematics and Science. Deck Officers are responsible for the safe navigation of a ship between ports. The following subjects are covered at different levels:

Year One: S1
  • Fishing Vessel Navigation
  • Fishing Vessel Construction, Stability and Damage Control 1
  • Navigation Information Systems 1
  • Fishing Gear Technology
  • Computer Skills 1
  • Bridge Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessels
  • Nautical Terminologies7 Modules
Year One: S2
  • Principles of Navigation and Chart Work
  • Maritime English
  • Marine Computer Applications and Networks
  • Navigation Information Systems 2
  • Fishing Vessel Construction, Stability and Damage Control 2
  • Fishing Vessel Compass and Power Plants 2 200.00
  • Maritime Law
Year Two: S3
  • Fishing Vessel Manoeuvring, Handling and Emergency Procedures
  • Catch Handling and Stowage
  • Meteorology and Oceanography
  • Restricted Maritime Communication (GMDSS ROC)
  • General Maritime Communication (GOC)
  • Emergency Procedures
  • Personal Safety and Social Responsibility
  • Fire Prevention and Firefighting Techniques
Year Two: S4
  • Marine Medical Care
  • Elementary First Aid
  • Proficiency in Survival Craft

Responsibilities of a Navigating Officer:

1. Charting and Route Planning: Navigation officers plot the ship’s course, taking into account weather conditions, water depth, and other navigational hazards. They use charts, electronic navigation systems, and other tools to determine the safest and most efficient route.

2. Navigation Equipment Maintenance: It is the responsibility of the navigation department to maintain and calibrate navigation instruments such as GPS, RADAR, Compasses, and Echo sounders to ensure accurate positioning and safe navigation.

3. Watchkeeping: Navigation officers stand watch around the clock to monitor the ship’s position, lookout for other vessels or obstacles, and respond to any emergencies or navigational challenges that may arise.

4. Communications: They maintain communication with other vessels, shore authorities, and the ship’s command to exchange vital information and ensure safe passage.

5. Safety Compliance: Ensuring compliance with international regulations such as the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGs) is a crucial aspect of the navigation department’s role.


Candidates who wish to follow a maritime course must comply with the following requirements:

  • Grade 12 with 25 points in 5 subjects, with a C symbol in Mathematics, Physical Science and English.
  • Students will also be required to meet certain medical standards as per the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) requirements.


Courses leading to qualification as Deck Officer are approved by the Namibian Directorate of Maritime Affairs (DMA). The courses are offered by NAMFI following the agreed minimum standards of the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) Conventions on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for seafarers of 1978, as amended (STCW ’78/’95) and Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel of 1995 (STCW-F ’95). Upon satisfying all the requirements of the Directorate of Maritime Affairs, candidates may be issued (by the DMA) certificates of competence for the level that they qualify for.

Pathway to Deck Officer Certification

Below is the typical structure followed in order to become a Deck Officer on a Fishing Vessel:

  • S1 to S3 subjects and Mandatory Safety Courses
  • Sea-time (Structured training program onboard – record book)
  • Sea-time as a Deck Officer onboard fishing vessels according to Namibian Manning Regulations

Persons wishing to become Deck Officers onboard vessels other than Fishing Vessels can follow a structured training program leading to a qualification as holder of certificate of competence at Operational Level (Class 4/3) and Management Level (Deck Officer Class 2/1).

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