& Second Officer
All superyachts generally have a First Officer on board, but
larger yachts would employ a Second Officer as well. The roles
are quite similar, but specific duties are likely to vary from one
yacht to another.
The First Officer, sometimes known as the Chief Officer or Chief
Mate, is second in command to the Captain and manages all of the
deck crew including the Second Officer, Bosuns and
Deckhands. The main responsibilities include the safety of the
yacht and everyone on board, overseeing all deck operations and
maintenance, supervision and preparation of
toys on board, and a long list of administrative and safety
duties on board. It is usual for the First Officer to
undertake the navigational passage planning for the yacht.
As First Officer you will undertake bridge watches while at sea
and your navigational abilities will be put to use. As the
Captain’s second-in-charge you must be flexible to work many hours
and familiarise yourself with all aspects of the yacht and its
The Second Officer acts as understudy to the First
Officer. He/she may be specifically responsible for the
navigation of the yacht and keeping charts and publications up to
date. Other duties include monitoring the navigation and radio
equipment and undertaking bridge watches when at sea. The Second
Officer may also be the designated security, safety or medical
Required Skills and Experience:
The position of First or Second Officer demands someone who has
a firm knowledge of working on deck, and therefore usually has a
background working as a Deckhand or Bosun on
superyachts. Additionally, they should have diplomacy, good
personnel management skills and the ability to assign duties and
delegate crew on various projects. Knowledge of safety issues
Most First and Second Officers will be required to hold either
the MCA STCW Officer of the Watch (Yachts) <3000gt
or Chief Mate (Yachts) <3000gt
On smaller yachts candidates may have RYA or IYT certificates
such as the Yachtmaster Ocean.
Some First Officers come from a Merchant Navy background, and
although the superyacht sector is very different, Merchant Navy
certifications are recognised.
First Officers can generally expect around £2,750 to upwards of
£4,000 per month. Second Officer salaries are usually in the
range of £2,250 to £3,000 per month. There may also be
rotation opportunities for the First Officer and occasionally
for the Second Officer positions, especially on larger yachts.
An experienced First Officer can progress to Captain. Second
Officers usually progress to First Officer.
Your experience is likely to stand you in good stead for a whole
range of careers within the wider maritime industry. If you
want to continue working with Superyachts you may choose to work
for a Yacht Management or Service company, or in a Superyacht Yard
or Repair/Refit company.
Alternatively you could look to the Leisure Marine or Port
industries, finding a position as a Marina Manager or Harbour
Master for example. Jobs in surveying also value your
You may also wish to be involved in training and education as a
Lecturer or Instructor.
Your excellent management skills and good head for
problem-solving, customer service and operational management will
serve you well in any other industry.