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A man wearing a ship captain's uniform


Study with us and you’ll learn how to steer a ship by using the latest navigational technology to get cargo, passengers, and crew members from port-to-port safely. If you become a Navigation Officer, you will be a crucial member of the ship’s management team.

When on duty (known as a ‘watch’), it will be down to you to make decisions on steering, manoeuvring, controlling navigation and communications – and you’ll have the latest technological systems at your fingertips. These courses are ideal merchant navy training.


We have world-leading navigational bridge simulators, the most advanced available today. There are also navigation chartrooms and laboratories for electronic navigation systems.

Our facilities mean you’ll be in the perfect position to start a career at sea.

Find a course


Over 90% of world trade is transported by ship and around 1.7 million seafarers make sure global trade continues 24/7 so the world doesn’t run out of supplies.

The biggest container ships can hold 745 million bananas in 15,000 containers and if lined up, would stretch half way across the planet.

You can recognise the various ranks in the Merchant Navy by the epaulettes: ornamental shoulder pieces or decoration worn on the uniform. Used to identify Officers from Ratings, each insignia is worn with pride across every department.

483 million tonnes of cargo are handled at UK ports.

4000 passengers are on board the largest cruise ships.


Two men in uniforms looking at a monitor on a ship.


  • Captain
  • Navigating Officer
  • Chief Officer
  • Master
Careers on land include


  • Naval Architect
  • Maritime Insurance
  • Superintendent
  • Marine Pilot
  • Marine Surveyor
  • Maritime Law
  • Vessel Traffic Services (VTS)
  • Harbour Masters


Phase one, three and five:

  • Academic study – Navigational aids and equipment simulator training
  • Based at college for academic studies
  • Safety and survival training at our Marine Offshore Safety Training Centre
  • Navigational Aids and Equipment simulator training
  • Communications equipment training

Phase two and four:

  • Sea phase
  • Practical experience on board a vessel
  • On-the-job training and completion of MNTB Training Record Book

Both academic and practical study will ensure that you gain the experience and knowledge to pass your final oral exams, which will enable you to become a fully qualified Officer.


Our school leavers L3 pre-cadet deck course is one year duration, aimed to equip you with the skills to progress to sponsorship with a shipping company (formerly known as a cadetship) also called a cadetship.

The pre-cadet course entails:

  • Chartwork
  • Navigation plotting
  • Industry research exercise
  • Cargo, Ship construction, and ship stability

We also organise various college trips throughout the year to give you on-the-job experience such as trips to Port of Tyne and Port of Blyth plus an annual trip on the DFDS ferry to Amsterdam to get a taste of life of what a career at sea entails. Our students also experience a 5-day voyage with the Ocean Youth Trust.

Upon completing our Pre-Cadetship, or after directly applying to a shipping company, you will undertake a three-year Officer Cadet training programme.

Being sponsored means your Higher Education fees are covered, so you’ll have no student debt and earn a salary.

Success Story

Starting Quote Mark Finishing Quote Mark

I’ve learned a lot at SSMS. For example, I knew nothing about celestial navigation before this course, but now I can navigate using the stars. Male or female, I would definitely encourage anyone to start a career at sea. However, you have to be prepared to work and study hard, but the course is also a lot of fun.

Hannah Lewis
Deck Cadet
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