Navigating Officer

The main responsibilities of navigating officers are the piloting of seafaring vessels and determining a ship's position by means of the sun, moon, stars, landmarks, magnetic compasses, electronic radio and radar systems. Continual reference to this equipment and to landmarks helps to keep the ship on course.

Navigating officers’ skills are particularly necessary in situations such as passing through narrow waterways and entering and leaving harbours. They need to be able to navigate a ship by radar alone.
They need to keep a continual watch on the ship’s position whilst coasting by means of objects or the shoreline. They take charge of the watch at sea and are responsible for the ship’s bridge instrumentation. Weather forecasts and radio messages are also considered when determining the course of passage. The navigating officer is in charge of a team, responsible for the ship’s navigating instruments. They are also responsible for ships’ refuelling.

Navigating officers need to have a good knowledge of the “rule of the road” at sea and be able to interpret it for their fellow watch keeping officers. As officers, they also have the normal shipboard duties, such as maintaining crew discipline.

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Diploma: Navigating cadets need to obtain their Diploma in Maritime Studies from either DUT or CPUT before applying for a post as navigating trainee. Prospective navigating officers must find employment with a shipping company. On completion of the qualifying sea service, trainees sit for their Class 3 Deck Certificate of Competency.


  • SA Navy
  • South African Transport Services
  • Department of Sea Fisheries
  • Marine Division of the Department of Transport
  • Safmarine
  • De Beers Marine
  • Unicorn Lines

Further Information

South African Navy

South African Ship Owners’ Association
P O Box 1635
Durban, 4000
Suite 4, Lakeside Office Park
Derby Downs
University Road
Tel: (031) 266-1384 Fax: (031) 266-1447

South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Media Liaison Officer: Department of Defence Information Centre
Private Bag X161
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 355-6372/3 Fax: (012) 355-6398
E-mail: or

Getting Started

  • arrange to speak to a navigating officer about this type of career
  • contact the SA Navy for more information or look at their website

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations