How to join Merchant Navy: After 12th, Career, Courses, Types, Steps, Abroad, Scope, Jobs, Salary

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After more than a decade of experience in the merchant navy, I would like to share with you all my experiences and how you can join the Merchant navy. After reading through this article I hope your doubts such as How to join Merchant Navy after the 12th? Career, Courses Merchant Navy Salary, Merchant Navy Jobs, and other doubts will be cleared.

Article Content: –
  1. What is Merchant Navy
  2. What is the difference between the Indian Navy and Merchant Navy?
  3. Eligibility Criteria for joining the Merchant Navy
  4. What is a merchant navy uniform? Do they have to wear uniforms all the time?
  5. What types of ships do Merchant Navy professionals work on?
  6. How many people are there on a merchant navy ship?
  7. What's the difference between Deck Department and Engine Department?
  8. What are different careers in the Merchant Navy?
  9. What is the cost of different courses required to join the Merchant Navy?
  10. What's the lifestyle in the Merchant Navy? How’s the life of a seafarer?

What is Merchant Navy

Brief summary of Merchant Navy

The merchant navy is a business that is completely engaged in commercial activities between the transport of cargo and/or passengers by sea routes. Few nations used the term Merchant Marine for this type of navy, the area of Merchant Navy is a valuable part of the global shipping sector and is an integral part of any nation’s economic development. Most of the planet’s commercial trade activities are carried over the seas merchant navy has far more prominence throughout the globe. The term merchant navy means the fleet of commercial ships which aren’t used for military purposes.

The ships and the crew of the merchant are part of country shipping. The experts working on these industrial ships are known as mariners or sailors or seafarers or seamen. Ships have developed over a period of time from wooden structures and sails to riveted steel and thereafter welded steel structures fitted and running with the latest technological advanced machinery. This invisible industry and its heroes play a part in the development and progress of the global economy. The merchant navy is a global business with various nationalities working together on various kinds of vessels.

Shipping is a complex business and one of the oldest businesses mankind has ever known. Ships its crew and cargo suffer the perils of the sea to reach their destination. Without shipping global trade will suffer and many countries will plunge into darkness. Today’s ships not just carry oil but also chemicals, cars, grains, minerals, and much more.

What is the difference between the Indian Navy and Merchant Navy?

Defense vs Private Sector

When a seafarer is asked what you do? and answers I am working in Merchant Navy, many people confuse it with the Indian Navy. So what’s the difference between the Merchant Navy and the Navy (Indian Navy)?

When we hear the word Navy first thing we visualize is a ship with huge turrets and many other weapons installed the ship. That’s right because the Navy is a nation’s line of defense against security threats from seas/oceans. Often war movies like Navy Seals the U-517 popup in mind with the word Navy. Naval ships are government-run ships operated by the defense sector of any government. The main aim of the Navy is to protect and guard the territorial boundaries of the nation.

As answered in detail about merchant navy, it involves ships and ship’s crew working to carry either cargo/passengers from one place to another. This is a completely commercial operation of the ships. The ships are owned by either private businessmen or big institutions. Containers of Companies like Maersk, MSC, Hapag-Lloyd, etc are often visible around us. These are a few of the companies involved in commercial shipping. The main aim of the Merchant Navy is to earn profit from trade through the sea routes.

Eligibility Criteria for joining the Merchant Navy

For Indian students these are the general eligibility criteria are as follows:

  • Must be an Indian Citizen. (Foreign national students may also apply for education from India).
  • Considering you wish to join a ship as an officer the basic requirements are Class 10th with an average of 60% and Class 12th with an average of 60% in PCM (Physics, Chemistry, Maths).
  • English is an additional requirement with a minimum score of 40-60%.
  • A thorough medical examination is carried out as per the requirements of D.G shipping you can check the requirements for medical examinations here.
  • Good Vision is desirable but glasses with lens power up to 2.5 might be permitted.
  • Note: The age criteria for all the courses is between 17-25

Let’s break down the criteria further based on 10th and 12th standards.

How to join the merchant navy after 12th?

Eligibility Criteria

If you qualify the following criteria

  1. Finishing class 12th with Physics, Chemistry, and Maths with at least 60% in PCM.
  2. The candidate should be an unmarried Indian citizen (male or female).
  3. The age should be between 17 to 28. 
  4. Physical fitness is most important for a career in the merchant navy. A fitness certificate is necessary from a registered medical practitioner (Normally Doctor-Approved by DG shipping) for admission to this course.
  5. Normal eyesight and glasses up to + or – 2.5 may be allowed but colour blindness is not permitted. 
  6. Admission will be done by entrance exam which is then followed by a screening test and main written examination.
  7. After clearing the test, there will be an interview round and a medical test.
  8. Have to complete ship training course.

You can join Merchant Navy by enrolling for courses

How to join the merchant navy after 10th?

Eligibility Criteria

If you qualify the following criteria

  • The candidate should be a citizen of India.
  • The candidate should have to be unmarried (applicable for both males and females).
  • The eligibility for joining the merchant navy is finishing class 10th with a minimum of 40% marks.
  • The candidate should have normal vision,  but glasses up to plus or minus 2.5 may be allowed for some ranks.
  • Admission is done through an entrance exam followed by a screening test and a main written examination.
  • After the candidate clears the test, they will further go for an interview and a medical test.

What is a merchant navy uniform? Do they have to wear uniforms all the time?

Merchant navy officers wear a white shirt and black pants, along with epaulets in accordance with the rank on the ship. The uniform is accompanied by black shoes and a pullover or sweatshirt during chilly climate conditions. The cap is a black hood with a white top having an anchor with a ropes emblem. During working on ships, the crew wears a boiler suit together with personal protective equipment. The personal protective equipment will vary in accordance with the kind of the ship and the type of work that’s to be performed.

Officers wear the uniform when on the ship’s bridge, mess room, or as asked by the ship’s captain. Engine officers normally wear uniforms as and when requested for everything else the boiler suit is the main uniform. The merchant navy uniform is of significance and pride.

What types of ships do Merchant Navy professionals work on?

Different types of merchant ships are as follows

  • Dry Cargo Ships / General Cargo Ships.
  • Bulk Carriers
  • Container vessels
  • Refer Vessels
  • RO-RO vessels (Roll On – Roll Off vessels)
  • Tankers
  • Passenger Vessels (Cruise Vessels)

Dry Cargo vessels or general cargo vessels are ships with derricks that carry cargoes in pallet form. Most of these types of vessels are being taken over by Container ships.

Containers Ships are the fastest moving ships currently designed and operated by the companies. Containers are easy to transport on a ship or on land hence they are replacing the old general cargo vessels.

Refer vessels are normally used to carry perishable goods in a controlled environment. Normally Refer vessels carry perishable goods in reefer containers. These kinds of ships are specialized Container ships.

The Bulk Carriers are ships carrying cargoes like ore, grains, metals, etc. This type of ship has several holds where the cargo is stored and the holds are sealed with the hatch covers which are watertight.

RO-RO vessels carry cars, trucks, and other automotive vehicles. They are easy to identify as normally they look like tall rectangular blocks placed in water with a foldable ramp behind

Tankers are of 3 kinds Oil tankers, Chemical tankers, and Gas tankers.

In cruise ships or passenger ships, the cargo is humans traveling from one place to another. These ships are mostly pleasure ships. Titanic is a good example of a Cruise Ship or the latest you can say Wonders of the Seas is the longest cruise ship built in the year 2022.

How many people are there on a merchant navy ship?

Considering cargo ships on an average the number of crew ranges between 18-30 people. While for a Cruise Ship the crew onboard may be in Hundreds depending on the size of the cruise ship.

What’s the difference between Deck Department and Engine Department?

By now I told you a little about the Merchant Navy. So now let’s know more about the ship and its crew and also how you can become a part of the crew of the ship. There are 2 main departments on the ship.

  1. Deck Department.
  2. Engine Department.

Deck Department


The deck department on the ship is responsible for handling cargo and navigation of the ship.

Handling cargo includes how much cargo can be loaded and how the cargo has to be loaded is planned by the ship staff according to the applicable regulations if any. During Loading and Discharging of cargo, it is the responsibility of the Deck department to make sure the ship is properly loaded and avoid any unwanted stress on the ship structure which will further cause damage to the ship.

The navigation of the ship is another responsibility of the deck department. They have to plot courses between different ports and make sure the ship stays on course during its transit. Various factors have to be taken into consideration while plotting a course between two ports including the weather effects, fuel consumption, shortest route, depth under the keel, and many other factors.

Engine Department

The Mechanics

Engine Department is overall responsible for the smooth operation of all the machinery equipment onboard ship

The engine department is responsible for assisting the deck department during loading and discharging of cargo to oversee that all the machinery works properly and to avoid any unnecessary breakdown of machinery causing a delay in cargo operations.

During Navigation engine departments, keep a close eye on the performance of the propulsion equipment and ensure the ship’s voyage is completed safely and timely.

What are different careers in the Merchant Navy?

In order to join Merchant Navy you can select any of the following courses which are divided into following sections.

  • Under Graduate Programmes
  • Post Graduate Programmes
  • Research Programmes
  • Schools

Note: All the below tables are referenced from the IMU (Indian Maritime University) website

Under Graduate programmes

Course NameCourse Duration
B.Tech (Marine Engineering)4 Years
B.Tech (Naval Architecture & Ocean Engineering)4 Years
B.Sc (Nautical Science)3 Years
BBA (Logistics, Retailing & E-Commerce)3 Years
Apprenticeship embedded BBA – Maritime Logistics3 Years
Diploma in Nautical Science leading to B.Sc. (Applied Nautical Science)1 Year
B.Sc (Ship Building & Repair)3 Years
Data from the IMU website

Post Graduate Programmes

Course NameCourse Duration
MBA (Port and Shipping Management)2 Years
MBA (International Transportation and Logistics Management)2 Years
M.Tech (Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering)2 Years
M.Tech (Dredging and Harbour Engineering)2 Years
M.Tech (Marine Engineering & Management)2 Years

Research Programmes

CourseCourse Duration
Research-Based ProgrammesNot Defined
Research-Based Programmes do not have specific time lines

School Programmes

Further divided into following

  • School of Nautical Studies
  • School of Naval Architecture & Ocean Engineering
  • School of Marine Engineering & Technology
  • School of Maritime Management

School of Nautical Studies

CourseLocation and Duration
DNS Course
(Residential Programme) leading to
B.Sc (Applied Nautical Science)
1 Year, Navi Mumbai, Chennai
B.Sc (Nautical Science)
(Residential Programme)
3 Years, Navi Mumbai, Chennai, Cochin

School of Naval Architecture & Ocean Engineering

CourseDuration and Location

B.Tech (Naval Architecture and
Ocean Engineering)
 4 Years, Visakhapatnam 
 M.Tech (Naval Architecture and
Ocean Engineering)
 2 Years, Visakhapatnam 
 M.Tech (Dredging and
Harbour Engineering) 
 2 Years, Visakhapatnam 

School of Marine Engineering & Technology

CourseDuration and Location
M.Tech (Marine Engineering & Management) 2 Years, Kolkata 
 B.Tech (Marine Engineering) 4 Years, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai Port 
 PG Diploma in Marine Engineering 1 Year, Mumbai Port 

School of Maritime Management

CourseDuration and Location
BBA (Logistics, Retailing and E-Commerce)Chennai, Cochin
Apprenticeship embedded BBA – Maritime LogisticsVisakhapatnam
M.B.A. (Port and Shipping Management) (Non-residential Programme)2 Years, Chennai, Cochin
M.B.A. ( International Transportation & Logistics Management) (Non-residential Programme)2 Years, Chennai, Cochin, Kolkata, Visakhapatnam

Requirements to join a ship in any of the above departments vary from country to country. I can elaborate a little about the requirements for joining the ship in any of the above departments either as an officer or as a rating.

Deck Department:

  • DNS – Diploma in Nautical Science

Duration of the course – 1 Year

The minimum requirement is Class 12th with PCM 60% and English 60%

After the 1st year course at the academy, there will be 18 months training on ships as a cadet.

Completing the sea-time the seafarer then appears for the certificate of competency exam for 2nd mate. Prior appearing for this exam a 4-month preparatory course is mandatory along with a few other modular courses.

On clearing the examination, the candidate usually boards the ship as a 3rd officer and is then promoted to 2nd on the basis of performance.

  • BSc in Nautical Science

From any college affiliated with Indian Maritime University, you can do B.Sc. in Nautical Science after completion of your Diploma (DNS). Even with a B.Sc. in either Physics, Chemistry or Mathematics or Electronics, you can apply for a  B.Sc. Nautical Science degree. Even with a BE/B.Tech degree from any AICTE (All Indian Council for Technical Education) approved college you can get B.Sc Nautical Science degree by applying for the course.

  • B.Sc. Nautical Science 3 year course

Requirement :

10+2 with an average 60% in PCM and a minimum of 60% in the English language. The course is complete when you complete 3 years of college with 12 months of sea-time and then appear for the 2nd mate license exam.

  • B.S in Nautical Technology a 4-year course:


Same requirements as that of B.Sc. Nautical science 3-year course. 10+2 with 60% average in PCM and 60% in the English language. The tenure is of 4 years instead of 3 years followed by 12 months sea-time and thereafter the 2nd mate exam for getting Certificate of Competency.

Engine Department:
  • Marine Engineering 4 year course:


Class 10+2 with an average of 60% in PCM and 60% minimum in the English language. The first year of engineering is common with all other engineering branches. If you opted for either mechanical or electrical engineering in the 1st year then you can switch to Marine Engineering for 2nd year. This switch is possible only if you have an average of 60% in 1st year and the college is AICTE approved.

A 3-year Diploma holder with at least 60% score from electrical, mechanical, marine, electrical and electronics from an approved AICTE college can join to 2nd year in Marine Engineering course.

After the 4-year course, you will join as a junior engineer on a ship with a sea-time required of 6 months to become eligible for MEO Class IV exam (Marine Engineer Officer). Clearing the MEO class IV exam will give you a Certificate of Competency (COC) with which you can join a ship as a 4th Engineer.

  • Graduate Marine Engineering Course (GME)

This is a 1-year course followed after completion of your B.E/B.Tech Engineering degree with an average of 60% in mechanical or naval architecture branch.

After the 1-year course, you will join as a junior engineer on a ship with a sea-time required of 6 months to become eligible for MEO Class IV exam (Marine Engineer Officer). Clearing the MEO class IV exam will give you a Certificate of Competency (COC) with which you can join a ship as a 4th Engineer.

  • Marine Engineering Diploma course

After Class 10th with an average of 60% score, you can apply for diploma courses in branches like mechanical, marine, naval architecture, electrical, electrical and electronics. With the diploma, you can enrol directly in Marine Engineering 2nd year also with additional pre-sea training courses you can join a ship

  • Electro Technical Officer (ETO)

For joining a ship as an Electro Technical Officer, a minimum B.E/B.Tech degree or a diploma in a branch of electrical or electronics and communication or instrumentation is required. After the degree or diploma, a pre-sea training course of around 17 weeks followed with 6 months onboard training is essential. With the degree or diploma, and the pre-sea training one will join the ship as a trainee Electro Technical Officer. After successful completion of the onboard training, the promotion to ETO is on the basis of performance judged by the company they work for.

All the above cases cover joining a ship as an officer either on the deck or in the engine room. One can join the ship even as a rating and provide assistance to the officers onboard.

  • Join as a Rating:

G.P. rating course: (General Purpose Rating)

If you wish to join a ship as a rating to assist the officers onboard a G.P. rating course is mandatory. It is a 6-months course after passing Class 10th or 12th with Science field and with a score of a minimum of 40% and with a minimum of 40% in the English language.

With the G.P. Rating course, the first rank onboard will be that of a trainee either on engine side or deck. The hierarchy of the ranks amongst ratings are as follows

  • Deck department

Bosun (Boatswain)

Able-bodied Seaman (AB)

Ordinary Seaman (OS)

Trainee Ordinary Seaman (Trainee OS)

  • Engine Department:




Trainee Wiper

  • Saloon Staff:

General Steward

In order to join the Saloon staff (Galley department), there are Saloon rating courses. Class 10th or 12th with a minimum of 40% score with a minimum of 40% in the English language. This course is for a duration of 6-months. One can join the ship as a Steward at the start and thereafter be promoted to Chief cook depending on the performance basis of the company.

What is the cost of different courses required to join the Merchant Navy?

In the previous question, I covered the different courses required to join the Merchant Navy. In this, I try to answer the approximate cost of the courses described above.

Note: The course fees may vary with different colleges. I have extracted the fee structure from the colleges known to me

  • 1-year Diploma in Nautical Science — Approx 2,25,000₹ – 3,00,000₹ / year.
  • B.Sc. Nautical course — Approx 2,25,000₹ – 3,00,000₹ / year . About 6,00,000₹ – 9,00,000₹ (3-year course)
  • Mariner Engineering — Approx 2,00,000₹-3,00,000₹ / year . About 8,00,000₹ – 12,00,000 (4-year course)
  • Graduate Mariner Engineering — Approx 2,00,000₹ – 3,00,000₹
  • ETO course — Approx 1,50,000₹ – 3,00,000₹
  • G.P. Rating Course — Approx 1,50,000₹ – 2,25,000₹
  • Saloon Rating Course — Approx 1,50,000₹ – 2,25,000₹

Make sure which ever course you enrol for it is a D.G. Shipping approved course. Here is a list of D.G. Shipping approved colleges all over India

How to select the right course for you to join Merchant Navy?

Well, no one can decide what’s better for you engine or deck it’s a matter of choice that you will have to make it for yourself. The first thing to decide is which department you willing to join. You want to be an officer or to be a Rating. I have shared an approximate fee structure to know if you can afford the field of your choice.

Deck and engine both the departments have their field related pros and cons and most of the people in those fields may say the other field is better but finally, it comes down to where your interest lies in

If you are technically sound and like to fix broken stuff engineering may be the best option for you, if you like managing stuff and handling persons then the deck will be more preferable to you.

Just for your info nowadays shipping market is very bad fewer jobs for the junior officer or engineers also salaries are reducing than what was before. Before joining merchant navy do your thorough research and if you have decided which field to join then make sure the institute you going to join is a DG shipping approved one. Don’t get fooled around as there are many institutions without approval giving you false promises.

Rank hierarchy in Merchant Navy?

As previously explained there are 2 departments on the ship, each department have officers and ratings

Deck Department
Engine Department
Deck Department:

Deck Department


Overall Incharge of Ship

Chief Officer/Chief Mate

2nd in Command. Responsible for handling deck department

2nd Officer/ 2nd Mate

Handles Passage Planning and assist in Reporting duties

3rd Officer/ 3rd Mate

Incharge of LSA / FFA junior most officer onboard ship

Deck Cadet

Trainee Officer

Bosun / Boatswain

Petty Officer Incharge of deligating duties to ratings

Pumpman/Deck Fitter

Petty Officer specialised in cargo operations and deck fitter

Able Bodied Seaman / AB

Ratings performing daily maintenance tasks.

Ordinary Seaman / OS

Ratings performing duties as required. Just completed his training

Trainee Ordinary Seaman / Trainee OS

Trainee Rating

Chief Cook

Saloon Incharge. Responsible for keeping seafarers healthy

General Steward

Steward and assitant to chief cook

Engine Department

Chief Engineer

Technical Incharge of Ship

2nd Engg / 1st Asst Engg

responsible for handling Engine Department

3rd Engg / 2nd Asst Engg

Incharge of Boilers and Generators

4th Engg / 3rd Asst Engg

Incharge of Purifiers and Compressors

Junior Engineer

Trainee Engineer Officer

Electro Technical Officer / Electrical Officer

Incharge of Electrical Equipments

Trainee Electro Technical Officer / Trainee Electrical Officer

Trainee ETO/EO


Petty Officer skilled fitter welder turner

Motorman / Oilers

Ratings performing daily maintenance tasks.


Ratings performing duties as required. Just completed his training

Trainee Wiper

Trainee Rating

Can females join Merchant Navy?

Yes, girls can join. Currently, there are many female officers serving. Recently a female captain was awarded by the IMO. She is an inspiration to rest. It’s just you have to be hard working and committed to your job.

Personally, I have never sailed with a female colleague onboard. In my company, there are no females employed yet. It does not mean my company do not hire women. The procedure and requirements to join the merchant navy are same as that for the boys.

The government encourages females to join this field. Just a word of caution though from my end, if you are scared of rides on theme parks, giant wheel etc then you may face a hard time on the ship due to seasickness

What are different types of the department on ships?

Previously, I covered various requirements to join the Merchant Navy. I covered the 2 departments in shipping.

  • Deck Department
  • Engine Department

Deck Department:

This department is responsible for handling the ship’s commercial aspects. Deck guys are more into Navigation of the ship, handling of the cargoes, and maintenance of the deck. Master/Captain of the ship is overall in charge of the ship is from the deck department. Chief Mate handles the cargo loading and discharging operations, also give daily duties to the Ratings below him. 2nd mate is mostly responsible for handling passage plans and calculations related to ships routes and all. 3rd mate is the junior most officer and he looks after the Firefighting equipment, Life-saving equipment and other such duties. The rating report to the Chief officer who instructs them about the daily job to be carried out to Bosun who then allocates the job amongst the AB.

I will describe the Deck department to a layman as a driver of a car, I mean no disrespect to the department as I belong to Engine though. Like a driver, they navigate the ship to the desired location through the rough seas.

Engine Department:

This department is responsible for maintaining the ship’s machinery and equipment. Unlike engineers on shore who hardly gets their hands dirty with the work on a ship let it be an engineer or engine ratings, they have to get their hands dirty to make the machinery work. Chief Engineer is responsible for the smooth operation of the ship. 2nd Engineer assists the chief engineer by delegating daily duties to other engineers and ratings. He is also responsible for the whole Engine room. 3rd Engineer mostly on foreign ships handles Generators and Boilers on the ship. 4th engineer handles air compressors and purifiers. Motorman/oiler assists engineers with their work.

I will describe the Engine department is like a mechanic of a car, for a layman, I mean no disrespect to this department as I am one of the member of this department. Like a mechanic, engine department has to make sure the ship’s machinery run without giving any troubles.

What type of contract do Merchant Navy seafarers have?

Merchant Navy crew contracts differ for different nationalities and for different companies. Shipping is a complex business model, there are mainly two different types of companies employing crew for their ships.

Ownership Companies
Management Companies.
Ownership Companies are those companies where the shipowner hires competent crew on its own. The Ownership companies may have a separate crew recruitment team which manages the crew recruitment and their repatriation. The crew hired first are sent on probation basis for first 1-3 contracts after which they are made permanent. The employment and payment is similar to shore people i.e. round the year payment as long as employed with the company. The salary is divided into 2 parts normally that is basic and leave wages

Management Companies are those companies where the shipowner hires a different company altogether for the recruitment of its crew. In such cases, the management companies manage crew recruitment and their repatriation. In such companies, the crew is hired for a contract for a short duration and payment is only for the duration till the crew is onboard the ship. The salary received when onboard is inclusive of basic and leave wages.

Top 4 Management3 on/3 off3-4 ±1 month
Operational officers3 on/2 off5 – 6 ±1 months
Crew Ratings5 – 6 ± 1 month9 ±1 months
Crew Tennure onboard ship

How much does one earn in the Merchant Navy?

Seafarers wages are based on various factors like their nationalities, rank, qualification, experience, type of vessel, and company.

The starting wages in the Merchant navy are more lucrative than that on shore. The main reason for high wages is a hazardous sea environment, away from family, and almost no social life when onboard.

Range of Salaries in USD ($) per month on a contract basis:

RankPayscale per month
Chief engineer / Captain8000-15000 $
2nd Engineer or 1st AEngg / Chief officer6000-11000$
3rd Engineer or 2nd AEngg / 2nd officer4000-6000$
4th Engineer / 3rd officer2000-4500$
Electrical Officer/ Electro-Technical Officer3000 – 6500$
Junior Engineer / Deck cadet250- 1000 USD
Ordinary Seaman800-1500$
Able-bodied Seaman1100-1800$
Engine Rating/ Wiper600-1200$
Chief Cook1200-1800$
Approx Salaries based on current market conditions

These wages are also revised yearly and may be more than mentioned above.

Note: The above salaries are paid to the seafarer until he serves onboard or as mentioned in the contract. When a seafarer is on leave, he is unpaid as the leave wages are already included in the above-mentioned wages. A seafarer does not have an annual income. Only ownership companies pay round-the-year wages but that applies only to the officers the crew is paid in lump sums.

What further studies can I appear after merchant navy?

Many options are open in case you are interested in studying further. There are many advanced courses available like maritime law, ship brokering & chartering, maritime surveyor, maritime instructors etc. You can also pursue a degree in Masters in Business Administration (MBA) or M.Sc in shipping logistics and finance. If you are fond of the design field then naval architecture is one available option for you.

These are the courses I am aware as of now. Well on shore there are many opportunities for maritime professionals. Deckside can land a job as DPA( Designated Persons Ashore ), Qualified Individual (QI) etc. Engine side can get placed in any companies involving powerplant operations, become superintendent of ships etc.

How to get sponsorship in merchant navy?

Shipping companies offer sponsorship to interested students. Sponsorship is available for both departments of the ship i.e. Deck and Engine. With Sponsorship, the shipping companies would pay for your training and assure a job in return after signing a contract. Some shipping companies have their own institutes or have affiliated institutes. They conduct examinations for candidates prior giving them sponsorships if and when they are selected. The condition of sponsorship is that you will have to serve the company after pre-sea training for a certain amount of time, if the contract is broken you may have to pay the fees as mentioned in the signed contract.

Here are a few companies that I am aware of which provide sponsorship to fresh candidates.

  • Anglo-Eastern
  • BSM
  • Wilhelmsen
  • ESM
  • Maersk
  • VR Maritime Services Pvt Ltd
  • SCI
  • Selandia
  • Synergy
  • V Ships
  • Wallem

Are merchant navy professionals allowed to go out to every port? Or what is shore leave?

Shore Leave is nothing but a short leave from ship to shore when the ship has docked in the port. The duration of the shore leave is dependent on the port stay of the ship (which is decreasing as the technology is progressing), terminal regulations, and work shifts. On average, if a ship is in port for about 24 hours crew can expect a shore leave for about 6-8 hours depending on their work shifts.

In the case of VLCC(Very Large Crude Carriers), the ships may never see shore as the loading or discharging takes away from the land through submerged hoses. VLCC due to its massive size may not be able to reach port as the depth is limited, on such vessels, the crew may not get shore leave at all.

Due to the 9/11 attacks the port security has increased. Many ports welcome seafarers for shore leave but some ports may deny it for security purposes. ILO (International Labour Organisation) and MLC (Maritime Labour Convention) has regulations regarding shore leave and is striving for the right to shore leave for seafarers.

As a seafarer, you roam around the whole world and see many new places, but the time is very limited for the seafarers to enjoy the shore leave.

What’s the lifestyle in the Merchant Navy? How’s the life of a seafarer?

Since childhood you see your parents working. They leave the house early morning and return by evening. You dine together and the next day again the cycle repeats. A seafarer’s life is way different than a typical 9 to 5 job. A seafarer normally works in shifts twice a day, some days while long sailing few people enjoy a 7 – 6 work culture while others work in shifts of 4 hours 2 times a day with about 2 hours overtime in the daytime. When the ship is in port the duties changes shifts changes sometimes instead of 4 hours it becomes 6 hours shift twice a day. Every day is different in life at sea.

You sign a contract with the company, she assists you to join the ship and relieve you from the ship. The contract tenure may last from 3 months to 9 months depending on your rank and experience. The company takes good care of you when onboard. Major expenses of a seafarer like housing and food are borne by the company. This results in a lot of savings for the seafarer.

Sea life is not for everyone. Sea life is rough, the working and living conditions are harsh. Not a life for everyone. If you love social media then imagine a life without the internet. Only in recent years, we have seen the dawn of the internet on the ships. The data is costly and little.

When a seafarer is back home he is to stay updated and do a lot of courses. If you are an officer you need to stay updated with all the regulations and constantly give exams and get certified in their competency. These exams are essential for officers to rank higher on ships.

Consider all aspects before joining shipping. It’s not a simple life, it’s full of adventure, fun, and hardships.

Is it difficult to get a job in the merchant navy?

Currently, jobs in the merchant navy are reducing not just because of too many candidates coming out of institutes but because many other nationalities are entering the field. Indians have dominated the shipping industry and have been running ships for a long time but nowadays nationalities like Chinese, Philippines, Russians, Ukrainians, Polish, and many more are getting employed along with Indians. One other reason for shipping companies is that other nationalities may be ready to work at lower wages creating job scarcity for us Indians.

The future of shipping is heading towards automation. So the main thing for future seafarers is to stay updated with technological advances. Know your machinery basics and working thoroughly. Especially Indians lack knowledge of the electrical side, that’s what I have noticed it includes me, make sure you don’t skip it. Do not limit your knowledge to ship-related machinery. Competition is going to increase in the future and jobs in engineering will reduce. Just remember the Front part of the ship where the cargo is handled is the main asset of the ship while the Engine room (an essential part of the ship) is where the main expenditure occurs, So to increase profits everyone likes to cut off the losses in expenditure keep that in mind. When Fresh out of training or waiting for your next ship and it is taking too long don’t hesitate to apply for a shore job at the start pay scale may be less but the growth prospects are better.

Is swimming necessary for the merchant navy? You in Merchant Navy so you must be an excellent Swimmer

Swimming is not compulsory to join the merchant navy, but knowing how to swim surely has its benefits. It’s a common myth that a merchant navy professional is an excellent swimmer. I have sailed with many seafarers who are scared of jumping even in a pool.

The ship is the best lifeboat when we are sailing. One must pray that they never ever have to use the lifeboats provided for safety in their lifetime while working at sea. When on board the ship no one is allowed to swim in the ocean as it is a major risk. Cruise ships get you closer to land and to known beaches where you may be allowed to swim and enjoy the water activities.

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Ashutosh Ghate

Ashutosh Ghate is a marine engineer, blogger, aspiring writer, and geeky nerd. He is working on an oil tanker for a shipping company. He loves to write about technology and is always ready to help people on their queries. Apart from his day to day work, Ashutosh loves to read books and blogs, hence he started his own blog.

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