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Chief Officer, depending on the size of the yacht is also known as the First Mate, Chief Mate or Mate.


They are second in command and report directly to the Captain. The Chief Officer is the designated safety officer and this role requires a thorough understanding of all safety procedures as well as managerial and leadership skills.


Chief Officers are responsible for managing the smooth operation of the deck department which includes the general maintenance and supervision of the deck operations.



What does a Chief Officer do? | Chief Officer Job Description


On smaller yachts, the Chief Officer has a more hands-on role, whilst on the larger yachts, their responsibilities are more administrative, ensuring the yacht meets all the legal maritime and safety requirements.


The Chief Officer has a thorough understanding of the bridge and navigation systems, knowledge of all safety procedures onboard as well as the ability to teach and train the deck crew.


The responsibilities of a Chief Officer include:


  • Assisting the Captain with administrative and safety duties

  • Ensuring that the yacht is in all respects compliant with the relevant laws and maritime regulations (ISM, SOLAS, MARPOL)

  • Ensuring that the yacht is prepared for annual flag surveys, annual class surveys and port/flag state controls

  • Management of deck crew and maintaining crew discipline

  • Arranging regular safety drills

  • Weekly and monthly safety checks and maintenance

  • Conducting safety familiarisations and safety training for the crew on a regular basis

  • Setting watch-keeping schedules

  • Watch-keeping duties

  • Navigation and passage planning

  • Keeping all charts and publications up to date

  • Overseeing docking procedures

  • Maintenance and management of all toys and tenders

  • Deck Department budgeting and inventory

  • Overseeing shipyard periods



Soft and hard skills required to be a Chief Officer


The Chief Officer has a thorough understanding of the bridge and navigation systems, as well as knowledge of all safety procedures on board in case of an emergency.


Being responsible for the crew means it’s very important for a Chief Officer to be of a calm nature and have the capacity to manage negative situations.


The skills of a successful yacht Chief Officer include:


  • Strong knowledge of onboard safety procedures

  • Ability to assign duties and delegate crew on projects

  • Boat handling, watchkeeping and navigational skills

  • Excellent leadership and communication skills

  • Extensive deck maintenance knowledge and skills

  • Advanced product knowledge

  • Excellent tender driving skills

  • Advanced water sports knowledge



Mandatory certificates needed to work on board a yacht 


All crew members regardless of their position and seniority need to have a valid STCW Basic Safety Training certificate, along with a recognised Seafarers medical certificate, the most popular being the ENG1 which is issued by an MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) professional medic. 


Without these two certificates, it is not possible for crew to work on board a yacht and a Recruiter will not be able to assist you in finding work onboard a yacht. 


For more information about mandatory certificates please visit our Mandatory Certificates Guide.



Are you ready to secure a Chief Officer position onboard a yacht?


Become a member of YPI CREW through a free registration and let us guide you through your job search.


Each of our recruiters is specialised in crew placement for a particular department and they will do their best to get you an interview onboard a yacht. They will also advise you on how to best present your experience and skills and prepare for a yacht job interview.

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Chief Officer jobs

Chief Officer is a highly regarded and authoritative role onboard a yacht, and one in which one can develop their profile as a leader while embracing the yachting lifestyle.

Chief Officer jobs, First Officer, First Mate yacht jobs

Ulrica Lindström, Head of Captain and Officer Department, YPI CREW Yacht Crew Agency

Ulrica Lindström

Head of Captain and Officer Department

Chloé Collet, Captain and Officer Recruitment Specialist, YPI CREW Yacht Crew Agency

Chloé Collet

Captain and Officer Recruitment Specialist

Lisa Frost, Captain and Officer Recruitment Specialist, YPI CREW Yacht Crew Agency

Lisa Frost

Captain and Officer Recruitment Specialist