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MAR50320 Diploma of Maritime Operations (Watchkeeper Deck)

National ID: MAR50320 State ID: AC52
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Ready to navigate your crew through rough or smooth seas? Further advance your maritime career and become a highly skilled specialist in a supervisory role.

This course will qualify you to work in international waters as a:

  • Master or Chief Mate on vessels less than 500 gross tonnage in any operating area; and
  • Watchkeeper deck officer on vessels of any gross tonnage and in any operating area.
  • Master and chief mate on ships less than 3000 gross tonnage in near coastal waters.
  • Able seafarer - deck

Be guided by our team of lecturers who are expert mariners, as you become equipped with leadership and communication techniques to manage a crew. You'll gain a specialised maritime skillset and become trained in overseeing a vessel's stability and seaworthiness, managing cargo handling, navigating international waters and directing the team on watchkeeping. You'll also learn essential emergency response skills such as onboard firefighting, operating survival craft and providing first aid.

SM TAFE has key maritime connections which give students strong employability opportunities in oil and gas, shipbuilding and defence industries, alongside partnerships with Shell, Rio Tinto, Royal Oman Police, MMA Offshore Marine, BHP, INPEX and Australian Offshore Solutions.

If you've got what it takes to be a leader onboard, follow your calling for a career at sea and take the next step in enhancing your nautical and navigational knowledge.

Visit the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) website for details regarding sea service and certification requirements.

Learn in specialist facilities

Situated in the port city of Fremantle, SM TAFE’s Fremantle campus includes some of the most comprehensive facilities for training in the country, with advanced training equipment and highly experienced and qualified lecturing staff. SM TAFE’s maritime training integrates simulator technology, a fleet of three vessels, biological and computing laboratories, along with engineering, seamanship and aquaculture workshops.

You can learn real-world skills in the ship, bridge and engineering simulator training suite and become job ready for your role. The technology used features the most advanced mathematical modelling and shipping databases in the world and the hardware replicates the current equipment installed on seagoing ships.


    • maintain seaworthiness of the ship (ship stability)
    • monitor, loading, unloading, securing and stowage of cargo
    • contribute to fire prevention and firefighting (basic firefighting)
    • follow vessel security procedures (security awareness training)
    • observe personal safety and social responsibility (PSSR)
    • prevent, control and fight fires on board a vessel (advanced firefighting)
    • survive at sea in the event of vessel abandonment and personal survival techniques (PST)
    • plan and conduct a passage and determine position
    • use of electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) to maintain the safety of navigation
    • use of radar and other bridge equipment to maintain safety of navigation
    • manoeuvre the ship
    • maintain seaworthiness of the ship (ship construction)
    Free in 2023

    This course is FREE from 1 January 2023. The course fees are 100 per cent subsidised by the WA State Government for WA residents.

    Some eligibility conditions apply for the free training, and other fees may apply for some courses. Please see the FAQs on our Skills Ready page for further information.

    VET Student Loans (VSL)

    This course is a VET Student Loan eligible course. A VET Student Loan creates a debt that must be repaid to the Commonwealth and is only available to students who are eligible.

    To find out if you are eligible or to see the list of eligible courses visit our Student Loans page.

    School Leaver Non-School Leaver AQF
    Completion of WACE General or ATAR (Minimum C Grades) or equivalent Completion of WACE General or ATAR or equivalent (minimum C Grades) Certificate III

    Prospective students should hold one of the following:

    • A Certificate IV in Maritime Operations (Master up to 35 metres Near Coastal) or
    • A Certificate III in Maritime Operations (Integrated Rating) with TAGS books and sea time or
    • An AMSA approved equivalent trade certificate.

    In addition to successful completion of this course, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) requires students to successfully complete each of the following to be issued with a new certificate of competency:

    • Meet medical test and eyesight requirements
    • Completed qualifying sea service time as either understudy of the officer in charge of a navigational watch or equivalent. Please refer to AMSA website below for further information
    • Pass a Final Assessment at an AMSA office.

    Refer to the following information on the AMSA website(opens in a new tab) for further details. 

    People seeking certification should contact the marine regulators, Australian Maritime Safety Authority. Phone: Head Office (02) 6279 5000 (8.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday EST) or visit the website(opens in a new tab)

    Attendance in class

    This course is 5 days per week when studied full time across 37 weeks. 

    At-home study

    As well as the in-class component, you will need to complete approximately 2 hours of additional study each week outside of class hours, including private study, assignment preparation, and research.

    You will need to have the basic technical requirements for at-home study. If you don’t have access to a computer and WiFi at home, we recommend using our library computers during library hours.

    Work placement

    Work placement is not a requirement of this course.

    What you need

    On your first day you should bring your SM TAFE confirmation enrolment receipt, your student ID, stationery (pen, pencil, exercise book, eraser, folder for notebooks and handouts) and wear enclosed footwear.

    Components of some units are delivered at ERGT, so attendance at their facility may require additional PPE. Details will be provided by your lecturer.

    Minimum dress standards apply to campus and ERGT attendance:

    • Safety steel-capped work boots must be worn during engineering classes. Heavy leather uppers and heavy duty soles.
    • No sand shoe volley type of footwear allowed (even with steel caps)
    • Overalls during engineering classes
    • Water, food, hat and sunscreen for boat days

    Fremantle Campus does not have a cafeteria but has basic kitchen facilities (kettle, microwave, fridge).

    Parking is available but please ensure apprentices arrive early on the first day to organise parking permit at the Customer Service counter.

    Please note this list should be used as a guide only as job titles and qualification requirements may vary between organisations.

    To access free career planning and job search assistance, visit the Jobs and Skills Centres page.

    With this certificate you can perform the duties or functions of:

    • Master or chief mate on ships less than 500 gross tonnage in any operating area.
    • Watchkeeper deck officer on ships of any gross tonnage in any operating area.
    • Master and chief mate on ships less than 3000 gross tonnage in near coastal waters.
    • Able seafarer—deck.

    Become a specialist in your field with university study

    The information about university credit points and tuition costs provides a general guide only. SM TAFE recommends students discuss credit points with the university or college of their choice at the time of graduation.

    Select your preferred campus and apply

    Click on your preferred campus and study mode below to get started with your application.

    Semester 1, 2023

    Duration 2 Semesters
    When Semester 1, 2023
    Where Fremantle
    How On Campus

    Semester 2, 2022

    Duration 2 Semesters
    When Semester 2, 2022
    Where Fremantle
    How On Campus
    Course fee
    Tuition fee* Resource fee Total fee
    General $1,406.16 $4,859.25 $6,265.41

    Indicative fees and charges 

    The fees quoted are estimates only and are for all units in the course for students enrolling on a full-time basis. If you're a student that has successfully completed a lower-level qualification that is a prerequisite for this course, you'll only pay for the units that you need to enrol in to complete this course. Please view the full list of fee disclaimers. 

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