How to become a chief yacht engineer: Yacht4 (Y4)

If you plan on becoming a chief yacht engineer, you’ll need to obtain the internationally recognised skills, sea-service time and the MCA Chief Engineer Yacht 4 Certificate of Competency.

Find crew-training companies providing the Y4.

Superyacht engineer at work

This guide is for senior yacht engineers that hold their Approved Engine Course (AEC) and Marine Engine Operator License (MEOL) Certificates, or an eligible amount of previous experience in another sector.

What is the Yacht 4 (Y4)?

The MCA Yacht4 Certificate is the third for yacht engineer course following the MCA Engineer Officer training scheme.

Candidates must first have obtained their Approved Engine Course (AEC) and Marine Engine Operator License (MEOL) Certificates, or hold an eligible amount of previous experience in another sector before taking this course. The course qualifies students to work as a chief engineer on a superyacht of up to 200GT and less than 1,500kW, or as a second/third engineer on a larger superyacht.

The course allows Y4 chief engineers to eventually progress on to the Yacht 3 and Yacht 2 courses, allowing them to work as chief engineers on larger yachts.

To obtain the Y4, students need to take three modules and an engineering skills test first. Then, a Notice of Eligibility (NoE) can be applied for from the MCA to sit the Y4 oral examination. During this, applicants will be required to demonstrate familiarity and proficiency in numerous areas of the superyacht engine.

The individual modules cost from £1,150 upwards and the oral exam costs between £150 and £250, and they must be taken at an MCA-approved training centre.

Yacht 4 training prerequisites

The below course certificates must be held before taking the Y4:

Yacht engineer at work

If the AEC and MEOL certificates are not held by a student, but they can prove 42 months’ experience as an engineer and six months’ sea service, the above certificates will not need to be obtained. However, if they have less than 42 months’ working experience the below courses will also be needed:

If you are yet to receive any of these certificates, you can still apply for the Notice of Eligibility (NoE) to take your Y4 oral examination. However, you will need to submit the certificates to the MCA after your exam.

Yacht 4 sea-service prerequisites

To obtain the Y4 Certificate, students must have held a Marine Engine Operators License (MEOL) for 12 months. As well as this, they will need proof of service as a yacht engineer on yachts of 350kW or more in propulsion power. They will also need six months actual sea service, whilst holding the MEOL.

Or, if you are going straight for the Y4, proof of 42 months’ service as a yacht engineer, with a minimum of 12 months on yachts of 350kW or more in propulsion power, including at least 6 months actual sea service.

Or six months’ service as a yacht engineer on yachts of 350kW or more in propulsion power, whilst holding a MN Senior Marine Engine Operator licence (SMEOL), including at least three months’ sea service.

Warsash Training Academy advised that those going for their Y4 Certificate can sit their examinations in any order and can even go for the oral first as long as they have an NoE. However, due to the perceived difficulty, the recommended order to complete exams is: Marine Diesel Engineering, Operational and Hotel, Auxiliary Equipment, and then the Y4 oral exam.

This way, students will progress through the courses gaining vital experience with respect to learning and exam techniques, and finish with Auxiliary Equipment – the most demanding of the three modules.

What’s involved in the Y4 program modules?

Marine Diesel Engineering Certificate

The syllabus of this module covers the working principles and maintenance of diesel and petrol engines, including turbochargers, engine construction, engine-safety devices, engine room layouts and auxiliary systems, as well as the application of oils, cooling water systems, heat exchangers and starting systems. The module typically costs between £1,150 (€1,210) and £1,250 (€1,424).

Yacht engineering

Operational Procedures, Basic Hotel Services and Ship Construction Certificate

This course and examination cover a range of operational, legal and environmental issues. The expected learning outcome is that students understands:

  • Legislation including the purpose of the MCA
  • Merchant shipping notices
  • Marine guidance and information notes
  • Code of Safe Working Practices
  • ISM
  • SOLAS
  • MARPOL
  • STCW conventions
  • Watch keeping
  • Maintenance procedures
  • The importance of record keeping and trend analysis
  • Bunkering procedures
  • Operation of sewage plants
  • An understanding of refrigeration and air conditioning plants
  • Fresh water generation and management
  • Motion control
  • Fire fighting
  • Ship construction

The module typically costs between £1,150 (€1,210) and £1,250 (€1,424).

Engineering Skills Test

Designed to allow students to demonstrate basic engineering skills in fitting, assembly, and electrical maintenance. Students must complete all tasks for assessment on their own. The tasks cover the following:

  • Safe and efficient use of equipment
  • Inspection and care of equipment; selection and suitability of equipment
  • Use and care of hand tools; safe use of portable power tools
  • Safe use of drilling machines and bench-mounted grinders
  • Maintenance and assembly skills
  • Electrical testing and wiring; recognition of common components, symbols and configuration

Find crew-training companies providing the Y4.


Crew Training Articles
March 12, 2021
Tried & Tested: Best Yacht Crew Polo Shirts
Tried & Tested: Best Yacht Crew Polo Shirts

In this Tried & Tested, clothing specialist Sea Design conducts a review into the best yacht crew polo shirts on the market. Which garment comes out on top when put to the test? Find out the number one option...

By Nathan Bees
January 21, 2021
Tried & Tested: Best Yacht Cleaning Products
Tried & Tested: Best Yacht Cleaning Products

In this Tried & Tested, yacht cleaning expert Marine 16 Ltd and cleaning expert Judith Shaw rate and review some of the best cleaning products available to buy. Find out which product was crowned the best following rigorous testing.

By Yachting Pages
January 13, 2021
Tried & Tested: Best Water Toys
Tried & Tested: Best Water Toys

In our brand new Tried & Tested, yacht water toy specialist EAMS and a group of experienced superyacht captains and crew rate and review the very best luxury water toys on the market. Find out which brand and product was crowned the best...

By Nathan Bees
Thailand’s ‘Test & Go’ could reopen by 1st February 2022

International yachts and superyachts could soon see Phuket return as a preferred destination following the announcement ...

By Holly Sanderson
January 21, 2022
Thailand’s ‘Test & Go’ could reopen by 1st February 2022
Porto Montenegro reaches new stage in shipyard development

Porto Montenegro has continued to build a strong foundation for the future by developing the former Bijela Shipyard as a...

By Annabelle Fox
January 21, 2022
Porto Montenegro reaches new stage in shipyard development

Finished reading? Now find your perfect supplier.

Search our industry-leading directory for over 20,000 superyacht suppliers, providers and marinas.

Search now