Officer Training Program: sea phase

Learn about the fundamentals of sea phase for officer cadets in the marine engineering and navigation streams, with in-depth looks at training in each year.

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Fundamentals

An officer cadet’s time spent on board a Canadian Coast Guard vessel is called ‘sea phase.’ During sea phase, officer cadets gain experience in the care, maintenance and operation of the ship they are assigned to. This knowledge helps officer cadets as they advance through their career and move on to senior officer positions.

Officer cadets spend different lengths of time at sea depending on which stream of the Officer Training Program they’re participating in.

Marine engineering sea phase

During their time at the College, engineering officer cadets will spend close to 9 months working on Coast Guard ships. These months are grouped into 2 separate phases.

Engineering officer cadets 4 year training calendar

Engineering officer cadets 4 year training calendar

Year

Fall

Winter

Spring

Summer

1 Courses Courses Courses Courses
2 Sea phase Courses Courses Courses
3 Courses Courses Sea phase Sea phase
4 Courses Courses Courses -

First sea phase

At the beginning of their second year of training, engineering officer cadets are placed on a vessel anywhere across Canada for 4 months. Assignments last from late August to December. Officer cadets resume classes at the College in early January, after a brief vacation during the winter holidays.

The goal of the first sea phase is to introduce officer cadets to life on board a Canadian Coast Guard ship. They spend their time working under the supervision of an officer or a lead hand. They learn the basic layout of the ship they’re on and its functions through interaction with officers and crew. This phase has a special emphasis on engineering, including the propulsion plant and support systems such as:

  • electrical systems
  • fueling arrangement
  • water storage and make up

Officer cadets complete a manual that tracks all items covered throughout this phase of training. This manual assesses their skills and knowledge, and is graded by Transport Canada after they complete their practicum.

Their specific objectives include:

  • written exercises in:
    • ship safety
    • auxiliary systems
    • electrical systems
    • main engine systems
    • ship’s service generators
  • cross training with the:
    • logistics department
    • navigation department
  • gaining experience with:
    • shipboard systems
    • emergency procedures
    • duties and responsibilities of all ship personnel
  • familiarization of the ship
  • working in isolated team environment
  • participating in live exercises and practical work, such as:
    • electrical
    • safety equipment
    • watchkeeping routines
    • main engine maintenance
    • maintenance and repair of auxiliary machinery

Second sea phase

Officer cadets begin their second ship-board placement during their third year of training. They are placed on a Canadian Coast Guard Ship anywhere across Canada for 4 to 5 months, from April to August. Typically, officer cadets leave the vessel sometime in August, spend some time on vacation in the summer. They then return to the college in early September to begin their final year of study.

This phase further develops the officer cadet’s engineering skills and knowledge. It requires them to think in a more global sense as an engineer in charge of a machinery plant. This includes working closely with the engineer-on-watch and participating in planned and unplanned maintenance and repairs.

The sea phase manual tracks this knowledge and experience, and attests to the essential soft competencies officer cadets need as professional ship’s officers.

Their specific objectives include:

  • cross training with the:
    • deck department
    • logistics department
  • conducting written exercises on topics, such as:
    • safety
    • auxiliary systems
    • electrical systems
    • auxiliary machinery
    • general engineering
    • watchkeeping engineering
  • participating in live exercise and practical work, such as:
    • electrical
    • safety equipment
    • watchkeeping routines
    • main engine maintenance
    • maintenance and repair of auxiliary machinery

Marine navigation sea phase

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

Navigation officer cadets 4 year training calendar

Navigation officer cadets 4 year training calendar
Year Fall Winter Spring Summer
1 Courses Courses Courses Courses
2 Sea phase Sea phase Courses Courses
3 Courses Sea phase Sea phase Sea phase
4 Courses Courses Courses -

First sea phase

At the beginning of their second year of training, navigation officer cadets are placed on a vessel anywhere across Canada for 7 months. Assignments last from late August to April, with a brief vacation in the Christmas holiday season.

The goal of the first sea phase is to introduce officer cadets to life onboard a Canadian Coast Guard ship. They work under the supervision of the ship’s boatswain, learning deck operations and mastering their seamanship techniques. They’re required to complete a manual that tracks all the items covered throughout this phase of training.

Their specific objectives while on the first sea phase include:

  • cross training with:
    • logistical officers
    • engineering officers
  • gaining experience with:
    • shipboard systems
    • emergency procedures
    • how a ship functions at sea and in port
    • working in an isolated team environment
  • familiarizing themselves with sea-going vessels
  • understanding the duties and responsibilities of all ship personnel
  • participating in live exercises and practical work, such as:
    • bridge tasks
    • port operations
    • cargo operations
    • wire and rope work
    • helicopter operations
    • search and rescue operations
    • navigation services operations
    • equipment operations and maintenance

Second sea phase

During their third year of training, officer cadets begin their second ship-board placement. This begins in late December or early January and lasts for 7 to 8 months. Typically, officer cadets leave the vessel sometime in August and spend some time on vacation in the summer. They then return to the college in early September to begin their final year of study.

The second sea phase is focused on interactions with staff and learning from the accumulated experience of others. Officer cadets learn how to take a leadership role on deck and in small boat operations, supervised by an officer or lead hand. This hones the skills needed for safe conduct on the ship, as well as the safety of the crew and cargo onboard.

The sea phase manual tracks this knowledge and experience, and attests to the essential soft competencies officer cadets need as professional ship’s officers.

Their specific objectives include:

  • cross training with the:
    • logistics department
    • engineering department
  • conducting written exercises on topics, such as:
    • navigation
    • small boat safety
    • ship construction
    • Coast Guard operations
    • ice and weather conditions
    • stability and damage control
    • internal shipboard operations
    • advanced seamanship techniques
  • participating in live exercises and practical work including:
    • bridge tasks
    • port operations
    • general seamanship
    • communications tasks
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