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Marine navigation training

Marine navigation officers are responsible for the safety of their vessel, their crew and the environment. They pilot and follow routes from charts while taking depth, weather conditions and traffic into account. They are also responsible for radio communications.

This program prepares you for a career as a marine navigation officer aboard a Canadian Coast Guard vessel. Officer cadets studying marine navigation learn about ship behaviour due to internal and external factors such as weather and ice conditions. You'll also learn about:

Training topics

Marine navigation officers must know how to effectively respond to different scenarios while at sea. At the College, we prepare you for your role by teaching you:

Course curriculum

First year classes
Second year classes
Third year classes
Fourth year classes

Training phases

Officer cadets receive hands-on experience aboard a ship to ready them for their career as a marine navigation officer. To balance this with classroom learning, the program is divided into 5 phases:


During their training program at the College, marine navigation officer cadets will spend close to 14 months working on Coast Guard ships. These months are grouped into 2 separate phases.

First sea phase

At the beginning of the second year of training, you will be placed on a vessel anywhere across Canada for 7 months. Assignments takes place from late August to April, with a brief vacation during the Christmas holiday season.

The goal of the first sea phase is to introduce you to life onboard a Canadian Coast Guard ship. You will learn all about the positions aboard the vessel and how to safely navigate the ship. You won’t steer the vessel yourself; rather, you will learn to direct your crew to navigate.

You will work under the supervision of the ship’s boatswain, learning deck operations and mastering their seamanship techniques. You will be required to complete a sea training manual that tracks all the items covered throughout this phase of training. For more information on course learning objectives please see course code 241–sea phase.

Second sea phase

During your third year of training, you begin your second ship-board placement. This begins in late December or early January and lasts for 7 to 8 months. Typically, you will leave the vessel sometime in August and have some vacation time during the summer. You’ll then return to the college in early September to begin your final year of study.

The second sea phase is focused on interactions with staff and learning from the accumulated experience of others. You will learn how to take a leadership role on deck and in small boat operations, supervised by an officer. This refines the skills needed for the safe navigation of the ship, as well as the safety of the crew onboard. The sea phase manual tracks this knowledge and experience, and attests to the essential soft competencies you need to become a professional ship’s officer. For more information on course learning objectives please see course code 341–sea phase.


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