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Maritime caterer

Reference Number: ST0275

Details of standard


A maritime caterer works as a member of the hospitality/hotel services department on board ships and vessels of different types and sizes, preparing, cooking and baking various dishes, including fish, poultry, meat, vegetables and dough products, desserts and buffets, for passengers and/or crew. The role includes food purchase and storage; budgeting and menu planning specific to the needs of crew and passengers; and with regard to the endurance of the vessel to be at sea, its food storage capabilities and the fresh produce available on board. Customer service is an important part of the role, along with a range of shipboard safety duties and responsibilities.

A maritime caterer will work a shift rota, as determined by the vessel operations, often working alongside other ratings and seafarers from a range of different nationalities. Basic seafarer safety and the work on board must comply with international and national requirements.


Coupled with required periods of leave, it is expected that minimum completion time of the apprenticeship will be 24 months (including time spent working at sea).

Qualifications and certification

  • Level 2 Award in Maritime Studies: STCW1 Safety – which includes regulatory fire-fighting, first aid, survival in the water, safety and social responsibility, and security

English and Maths

Apprentices without level 1 English and maths will need to achieve this level and take the level 2 English and maths test for level 2 prior to taking the end point assessment

Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • menu planning to provide a balanced diet for the crew and passengers taking account of the endurance of the fresh produce on board, the ship’s endurance to stay at sea and the nutritional well- being of all crew members who must eat as part of a central ‘messing’ model over an extended period, as well as to provide for different dietary, cultural and religious requirements, shift patterns and night- time working
  • menu costing, catering accounting system and management records
  • understanding the importance of budgeting and economy
  • food and provision receipt and storage procedures, quality and quantity checks and maximization of space to increase the endurance of the vessel
  • storeroom preparation and management, hygienic stock storage and stock rotation to ensure safe working practices on board a vessel
  • stocktaking procedures and the use of basic software and IT skills to support this
  • apply precautions to contribute to the security of the vessel and prevention of pollution of the marine environment including safe disposal of garbage and food waste and the restrictions of waste in line with MARPOL (Marine Pollution) regulations
  • food preparation and cookery, with regard to situational awareness of working onboard a vessel (i.e. a moving environment subject to weather conditions) – to
    • stocks, soups and sauces (hot & cold)
    • fruit and vegetables
    • meat and offal
    • poultry
    • fish and shellfish
    • rice, pasta, grain and egg dishes

    • sweets and pastry products (hot and cold desserts)

    • dough and bakery products

    • sandwiches and salads

  • prepare a hot and cold buffet counter; present and serve a meal
  • comply with current hygiene and food safety legislation
  • be able to use manual and electrical food-preparation and cooking equipment and machinery safely and correctly, including safe and correct use of knives and other safety critical equipment and machinery within the onboard
  • understanding the foundation of customer service and ability and willingness to deliver outstanding customer service to crew and external passengers
  • carry out fire prevention and fire-fighting duties in line with prescribed vessel muster arrangements
  • administer emergency first aid in the event of an accident or incident
  • be able to use survival techniques in the water
  • apply occupational health and safety precautions and safe working practices covering everyday life on board, including COSWP2 and COSHH3 and drugs and alcohol policies
  • comply with statutory and industry regulations for safe working on board vessels and with particular regard for entering and working in enclosed spaces.
  • understanding the hazards and procedures involved in working in enclosed


In emergencies, apprentices are expected to follow orders immediately, safely and in a calm manner whilst being prepared to challenge apparent uncertain or unsafe practice.

In normal working conditions, maritime caterers are required to:

  • follow safe working practices including those covering enclosed
  • do what is necessary to manage their own and colleagues’ fatigue
  • carry out their duties efficiently to the best of their ability
  • comply with company rules and procedures
  • work as part of a team to encourage others and engender team spirit
  • be considerate towards fellow seafarers, particularly
    • those who need to sleep whilst others are awake
    • in being punctual when joining their vessel, returning from shore leave, and reporting for working shifts and safety-related duties
    • in use of shared facilities
    • in terms of equality, diversity and respect for other cultures
  • take precautions to prevent pollution of the marine

Entry requirements

Apprentices will need to be able to pass the medical entry requirements as defined in MCA regulations (i.e. the ENG14 Seafarer Medical Certificate) before starting the apprenticeship.

Individual employers will determine their own selection criteria and will need to be confident that potential apprentices have the aptitude and ability to assimilate the learning and develop the required practical skills and competences, and to work in a multicultural environment on board a vessel, which may be away from home for extended periods of time.

Level               This is a Level 2 apprenticeship.

Review           This standard will be reviewed in 3 years.

1 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping

2 Code of Safe Working Practices (UK Merchant Seafarers)

3 Control of Substances Hazardous to Health

4 As specified by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency

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