Whether you remember to log your miles as you go or wait until you’re leaving a vessel to try and figure it out, logging your sea service is an important job that needs to be done and can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re doing…

In 2015, the MCA released updated shipping notices-

  • MSN 1858 for deck officers onboard yachts larger than 24m (replacing MSN 1802, MIN 473 and MIN 498)
  • MSN 1859 for engineering officers onboard yachts larger than 24m (replacing MGN 156)

These documents changed a few things for yacht crew. And if you don’t already know about these documents, they outline the requirements needed to pursue a career as an officer in the yachting industry and should be downloaded to your desktop as your own personal guide to what you need for your career, but they can also be found in our footer for reference as well.

There are 2 other shipping notices worth mentioning here and there are some confusing and conflicting information out there surrounding them. We will explain what they are and what they are used for so you won’t ever be confused should you come across the wrong information. The shipping notices are as follows:

  1. MSN 1856– UK requirements for master and deck officers- MERCHANT NAVY
  2. MSN 1857– UK requirements for engineer officers and operators- MERCHANT NAVY

Both documents explain the regulations, certification structure and training requirements for Merchant Navy officers. This includes crew onboard tankers, cruise ships, container ships, etc. and are VERY similar to the yachting versions, including testimonials, that even look the same but have some very important differences.

NOTE: DECK OFFICERS- Testimonial form differences
Required ONLY for MSN 1856  (Merchant Navy)          Required ONLY for MSN 1858  (Yachts larger than 24m)

Type Tanker info                                                                          Actual sea service
Cargo carried info                                                                        Stand-by service
–                                                                                                   Yard service
–                                                                                                  TABLE A outlining standby service

NOTE: ENGINEER OFFICERS- Testimonial form and requirement differences
ONLY for MSN 1857 (Merchant Navy)                           ONLY for MSN 1859  (Yachts larger than 24m)

Type Propelling machinery                                                       Actual Sea Service
Type Auxiliary machinery                                                         Standby Service
Shaft power kW Yard service                                                   Yard Service
Type of boilers                                                                         YACHT CERTIFICATE OF DISCHARGE needs to be included
Type of tanker & cargo carried

ALL remaining fields are identical for both forms:

  • Personal details
  • Company details
  • Watchkeeping days- as defined as not less than 4 hours out of every 24 hours while the vessel is engaged on seagoing voyages
  • Leaves of absences
  • Conduct
  • Ability
  • Official endorsement


So be careful and make sure you have the correct document for your career path, because a mistake could set you back by working towards the wrong goals.

Ok, back to where we started with the changes in shipping notices (MSN 1858 and 1859) and the documents needed from these shipping notices as proof of sea service…

Important Sea Service Log Details

There are a couple of things to pay attention to now while logging your sea service to accommodate the recent changes in the testimonial forms and discharge certificates:

  • Both forms need to be endorsed by the captain or responsible person and CAN NO LONGER be self-certified or self-endorsed.
  • There are 2 versions of the deck testimonial form. One is for officers, the other for deckhands- chose accordingly. It’s only a text thing but you should get it right.
  • Both deck testimonial forms include “Table A” for logging standby service. The definition for standby service has changed and it is now based on each trip and may be difficult to remember if you haven’t kept a good record of sea service while onboard.
  • The discharge certificate is included in both deck and engineering shipping notices for yachts and is virtually identical, however, be sure you use the correct one for your department because the engineering version includes engine power kW and the deck discharge certificate does not.
  • As of May 2017 all testimonials must be verified before submitting to the MCA other wise they may be severely delayed (160days) in order for the MCA to perform the verification process.

If you think you might want some help with these things, we walk you through all this and more with our logbooks. CrewLog has been designed to simplify and clarify sea service for all professional yacht crew and includes definitions, helpful hints, testimonials, discharge certificates and calculations for you as you create your logbook and it is totally free to sign up and get started. No commitment, no credit card, just help with your sea service.

If after 3 months you decide you can’t live without it, then it’s only $4.95/month- Or if you just want to keep a personal log, without all the sea service stuff, it will always be totally FREE.