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On induction, a Naval cadet undergoes his/her basic military training in the Curragh. On completion of this training, the focus switches to developing the skills of the individual to becoming a competent officer, in all respects.  A vital part of this competency is the ability to function as a bridge watchkeeping officer. The training at NMCI greatly assists in the achievement of this goal. The student, at the commencement of his second year of training as a Naval Cadet, commences on the three year B. Sc. Nautical Science degree programme at NMCI. This degree course is common to both Merchant Marine and Naval Service students alike and covers all aspects of bridge watchkeeping as required by international maritime regulations. Between the College semesters, Naval Service cadets join Naval ships in the fleet for practical training where their skills are put to every day use.

Once the degree program has been successfully completed, the now Naval officer (commissioning takes place at the end of year two (2) training) re joins a Naval ship in preparation for the Naval Service Watch-keeping Course. This course, which runs for six months, gives professional dedicated training to the student in Naval/military subjects which are not generally covered in the degree programme e.g. warfare training, naval navigation, boarding operations, fishery protection related training, legislation training etc.

On successful completion of the watchkeeping course, the officer joins a ship as part of the crew where he/she will remain for the next two years.