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Online STCW ISPS Designated Security Duties (PDSD) Course

The ever-growing threat of attack from Maritime Piracy, Armed Robbery Against Shipping, and various terrorists’ organisations becoming a very real concern for those vessels transiting through waters that have been designated as High-Risk Areas or HRAs.

This fully online and MCA Approved Proficiency in Designated Security Duties (PDSD) Course is specifically designed for those crew members, reporting to the Ship Security Officer, who will carry out designated security duties and responsibilities, functioning under the ISPS Code and encountering security-related incidents whilst transiting High-Risk Areas or operating in adverse conditions.

  • UK DfT Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) Approved
  • Internationally Recognised under STCW ISPS
  • Fully Online Training Course and Official Assessments
  • Cost & Time-Efficient Means of Delivery of Training
  • Comprehensive Course Notes Downloads
  • Fast Turnaround on Official Course Certifications
  • Flexible Learning at Your Own Pace and Convenience
  • Ability to Re-Visit Earlier Subjects on Courses
  • Consistent Quality Method for the Delivery of Training

About the Online PDSD Course

The Designated Security Duties course explores the role and responsibilities of personnel onboard ship who have designated security duties, and assists in the development of the their ability to carry out all their security responsibilities in accordance with the ISPS Code, associated Manila Amendments and in compliance with the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) Knowledge, Understanding & Proficiency, the STCW Convention and IMO Model Course 3.26 and is key to ensuring that those persons performing the role of crew with designated security duties fully understand their role and associated responsibilities under the Ship Security Plan.

Awarding Body

This online PDSD Course is fully approved and certified under the UK Department for Transport Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and meets with STCW Reg VI/6. paragraph 4 and Section A-VI/6, paragraphs 6 to 8 of the STCW Convention and Code 1978, as amended and incorporates Proficiency in Security Awareness laid down in STCW Reg. VI/6, paragraph 1 Section A.VI/6, paragraph 4.

Target Audience

To give those undertaking designated security duties on board ship the essential education and training meeting the Knowledge, Understanding and Proficiency (KUP) requirements set out in the following STCW table, which supports Chapter XI-2 of the annex to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) 1974, as amended and the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.


There is no intake restriction, although some sea going experience would be an advantage before undertaking a designated security duties course, and neither is there a requirement for the learner to have completed security awareness training before being enrolled on a designated security duties training course.

Regulations Addressed

VIRSEC's Designated Security Duties Course has been developed with the following considerations:

  • The MNTB Security Courses Criteria [1st Edition]
  • Regulation VI/6 and Section A-VI/6 of the STCW Convention and Code (2010)
  • IMO Model Course 3.26 [2012 Edition]
  • The International Ship & Port Security (ISPS) Code 2004 as amended [STCW Table A-VI/6-2]

Course Learning Outcomes

  • Know why ship security is important and knows the roles and responsibilities of the organisations and individuals involved.
  • Know what constitutes a security risk, threat and vulnerability to the ship, its personnel, cargo and operations.
  • Understand the capabilities and limitations of security methods, equipment and systems.
  • Know how to maintain the measures in a ship security plan and related requirements.
  • Maintain the effectiveness of security arrangements, procedures and equipment at the three security levels, considering their limitations.

Course Duration

The course lasts for approximately 8 hours depending on the learner’s abilities and reading speed. However, you can enter and exit this course as often as you require.

Course Subjects

  • The Development of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.
  • Understand the relevant international conventions, codes and recommendations relating to Maritime Piracy & Armed Robbery against Shipping.
  • Understand the roles and responsibilities of relevant bodies and organisations.
  • The roles and responsibilities of Contracting Governments, Designated Authorities, and Recognised Security Organisations.
  • The Security Roles & Responsibilities of Crew and Port Security Personnel.
  • Measures and Procedures for Maritime Security (MARSEC) Levels.
  • Recognition of weapons, dangerous substances and devices.
  • Recognition of persons who may pose a threat to the security of the ship.
  • Identifying techniques used to circumvent security measures.
  • The handling of Sensitive Security-Related Information (SSRI) and Communications.
  • Identifying security threats including Maritime Piracy & Armed Robbery against Shipping.
  • Security methods, equipment & systems.
  • Security monitoring, monitoring equipment & systems.
  • The Ship Security Alert System (SSAS).
  • The Ship Security Plan (SSP).
  • The provisions for maintaining security.
  • Criteria for setting Maritime Security (MARSEC) levels under the ISPS Code.
  • Actions to prevent weapons, dangerous substances and devices being brought on board.
  • Guidance and measure for Anti-Piracy and Anti-Armed Robbery.
  • Responses to Emergency Situations including Maritime Piracy & Armed Robbery against Shipping.
  • Physical Searches & Non-Intrusive Inspections.
  • Crowd Management & Control Requirements.
  • Emergency Drills & Exercises.

Official PDSD Course Certification

The online Designated Security Duties (PDSD) Course is fully approved by the UK DfT Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and is internationally recognised and accepted.  It includes the 2010 Manila Amendments and conforms to Regulation VI/6, paragraph 4 and Section A-VI/6, paragraphs 6 to 8 of the STCW Convention and Code 1978, as amended and incorporates Proficiency in Security Awareness laid down in Regulation VI/6 and Section A-VI/6 of the STCW Convention and Code and has also met the additional criteria specified in the STCW Convention and Code, applicable to the issue of this certificate.

Learners will receive an electronic copy of the official course certificate (in PDF format) upon successful completion of the course, and they can request a hardcopy certificate to be posted to their home address for a small administration and postage charge.


Yes, many of our courses carry internationally-recognised and accepted certification such as the STCW ISPS Courses we offer. We have to date, sold our courses into 110 countries around the world.

There are no actual pre-requisites for anyone who wishes to attend this PDSD course but some exposure to maritime operations is an advantage. Other than you are required to also demonstrate a good understanding of the English Language which is a requirement of the UK DfT Maritime & Coastguard Agency.

Yes, the online PDSD Course is fully Approved under the UK DfT Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the official certificate contains the required wording: Regulation VI/6, paragraph 4 and Section A-VI/6, paragraphs 6 to 8 of the STCW Convention and Code 1978, as amended and incorporates Proficiency in Security Awareness laid down in Regulation VI/6 and Section A-VI/6 of the STCW Convention and Code and has also met the additional criteria specified in the STCW Convention and Code, applicable to the issue of this certificate. This Certificate is issued under the authority of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, an executive agency of the Department for Transport.

You course access is granted for a period of 12 months from the date of purchase, not from the first time you access it. You must complete the course within this time period as the system will close your course off after this period of time. This access licence will expire upon 12 months, or successful completion of the course itself, whichever comes first.

The PDSD Course is expected to take in the region of 6 to 8 hours pending your understanding of the subjects, and your reading / learning speed.

No, as with any of our courses, you may enter and exit the PDSD Course at any time and then re-commence where you left off. However, for the official assessments which you must complete in one sitting or the assessment you are taking will reset if you exit before completing it.

No, we have included a set of very comprehensive and high-quality Course Notes. These are to assist you on the course and are for revision and reference use only. These Course Notes do not replace the requirement for you to spend the expected learning time on the course.

The PDSD Courses include five official online assessments as per the requirement under the UK DfT Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA). Each assessment is made up of multiple choice and true or false answers. Questions within each assessment are randomised and taken from a larger bank of questions. You may take these assessments as many times as are required to pass the course.

Once you have successfully purchased your PDSD Course, you are automatically sent two emails. One will be your Booking Confirmation email that details the course you have bought and your payment information (restricted) and personal details. The second email contains your uniquely coded login link. Sometimes this ends up in the customers spam or junk email folder, so if you do not receive this email, please check here first as you are most likely to find it. The email will come from VTC Training Wing, with the subject field containing the words ‘course enrolment’.

  • PDSD Testimonial Reference by: Jana B.

    I would like to thank the whole Virtual Training Centre team for creating such an amazing online course. I didn't know what to expect, but after going through the whole course, I would highly recommend it to every seafarer. The course is well structured and provides time & pace flexibility and comfort which I really appreciate. I am amazed at the extent of the information I have gained and I highly doubt I would get the knowledge in such a scale by doing any other classroom PDSD course. I am fascinated by all the additional literature in PDF format, links, and videos. Thanks to them I can revert to this interesting and for all mariner’s necessary topic anytime and study it in even more detail. Thank you.

  • PDSD Testimonial Reference by: Maia L-S.

    The course itself is cleverly constructed to go over important points more than once. The customer service I received was instant and helpful. Most importantly, I don’t feel like I just got the certificate, I feel that I have a good understanding of all subjects covered by this course. I will recommend it to all my colleagues.

  • PDSD Testimonial Reference by: Willem B.

    I would have done this course long ago if I knew how helpful it would be. I have been a professional yachtsman for 5 years with only a PST. It seems like this course is far underrated and under-marketed. I would make sure that I do more of these courses which are similarly helpful in the future.

  • PDSD Testimonial Reference by: Sigrid S.

    I was unsure of making the decision to do this course online instead of in an actual classroom, turns out I do not regret my final decision as this course succeeded my expectations. I also made a minor mistake when I purchased the course, but after contacting them through email asking if it was possible for them to help me; they had it fixed in 10 minutes! I only have good words to say about this whole experience with Virtual Training Centre.

  • PDSD Testimonial Reference by: Elliott P.

    This was a great course! Due to my circumstance and COVID-19, this way of conducting the course was perfect. The course itself was well set out and the methods of learning, videos and examples etc. was great. Highly recommend the course to anyone considering it.

  • PDSD Testimonial Reference by: Erin T.

    This is my second time completing a course by Virtual Training Centre, and I have had a great experience once again! The course outline and setup is amazing, informative and easy to comprehend. I would highly recommend Virtual Training Centre!

  • PDSD Testimonial Reference by: Bride P.

    This was a professional and very well developed course! I’m full of new knowledge and feel the examples were useful to learn more. Plenty of information and easy to use online material – well done! Thank you for a great course!

  • PDSD Testimonial Reference by: Mark V. K.

    How do you make a course like the PDSD tolerable let alone interesting? It’s very difficult! Virtual Training Centre have given it a good shot. The course is well laid out and easy to follow, and if you make a mistake, then go back and try it again, it’s the best way to learn. When I called them to clarify some points that I had, they were clear, helpful and polite. I wouldn’t hesitate to use them again if I needed to.

  • PDSD Testimonial Reference by: Gabriela B.

    I would recommend this course to anyone needing a deeper understanding of security awareness. It is thorough and provides great films to watch if you need deeper understanding of the material. The links to websites with extra information are very helpful and will also be handy in instances where clarification and on hand references are needed.

£195.00 Ex VAT

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