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Career in Merchant Navy (Shipping)



The Merchant Navy offers a career like no other Industry. Not only does it offer excellent remuneration and promotional opportunities, but also tremendous scope for adventure and travel. The opportunity to travel around the world and high salaries attracts many youngsters to make a career in merchant navy.

The Merchant Navy is a non-combatant commercial fleet, which deals with transporting cargo and, occasionally, passengers, by sea. The Merchant Navy fleet includes cargo ships, container ships, barge carrying ships, tankers, bulk carriers, refrigerator ships, passenger ships as well as roll off/roll on ships. Since the Merchant Navy offers excellent remuneration, good career prospects and opportunity to visit new and exotic places all over the world, many young people are being attracted to this profession. A career in the merchant navy is considered a glamorous one, especially by young people who have the travel bug. Travel and adventure holds a unique charm and that is the reason that many of them look for a career in the merchant navy.

Career Prospects

Merchant Navy plays a very important role in import & export business. Without merchant navy, international trade would come to an stand still. It is growing industry offering hard working and qualified people with opportunities in navigation, engineering and catering & hospitality. There are numerous government and private shipping companies which hire officers for the deck, engine and service departments.

Merchant navy offers opportunities for promotion, which are dependent on clearing the requisite competency exams conducted by the Ministry of Surface Transport for all navigating officers and marine engineers. After retirement, merchant navy people can return to land and work for Cargo and insurance surveyors, marine superintendents of shipping companies, pilots of ships at ports or lecturer in maritime education/ training academics.

Various Jobs in Merchant Navy 

(1)    Deck Officer - The officers from this branch look after the ships navigation, loading/unloading of cargo and the general maintenance and administration of the ship. The officer joins in the rank of 3rd officer and is subsequently promoted to the rank of 2nd officer, Chief Officer and finally the Master of the ship. Off course, the promotions are subject to the individual passing his competency exams and his performance onboard the ship. In addition to navigation duties, normally  a 3rd officer looks after the life saving appliances, 2nd officer the passage planning and the navigation equipment, the Chief Officer looks after the cargo work and the Master is the overall in-charge of the ship. 

(2)    Engineering Officer - These are the officer who are qualified in Marine Engineering. They join as 4th Engineer and step by step, get promoted to 3rd, 2nd and Chief Engineer, subject to their passing the competency exams and performance onboard the ship. The Engineering department in addition to looking after the main engines, are also responsible for associated equipment like power generation equipment, cargo pumps and air - conditioning etc. The4the Engineer  is responsible for operation and maintenance of engine room auxiliaries. The 3rd engineer for fuel, water and the boiler room equipment. The 2nd engineer for lubricating the system, engine room auxiliaries, and electric equipment. In addition, there is an electrical officer, who is responsible for the electrical equipment.

(3)    Radio Officers - The Radio Officers looks after all the electronic communication and the related records. In addition, he also looks after electronic navigation aids such as radar, depth measuring devices, long range navigation equipment and global positioning system etc. However, this category of personnel has been almost phased out and their duties passed over to other deck officers. To be qualified as Radio Officer an individual need to do a two week GMDSS course.

The courses offered by Institutes are:

  1. 3 year degree course in Nautical Science for (10+2) students.
  2. 4 year degree course in Marine Engineering for (10+2) students.
  3. 2 year course for Diploma Holders.
  4. 1 year course for Graduate Mechanical Engineers.
  5. 3 month course for Deck Cadets for (10+2) students.
  6. 4 month Pre-Sea Course for General Purpose (GP) rating.
  7. 3 month Pre-Sea Course for Deck rating.
  8. 3 month Pre-Sea Course for Engine rating.
  9. 4 month Pre-Sea Course for Saloon rating.

In order to pursue a B.E. Marine Engineering, a four years degree course; the qualifying age is 20 years, eyesight +/- 2.5, without colour blindness and the candidate should have passed higher secondary examination with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics as compulsory subjects with an aggregate marks of 60%.

It is also mandatory to qualify in the Joint Entrance Examination (J.E.E) which the IIT conducts every year or All India Engineering Entrance Examination (A.I.E.E.E) which is conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) once a year or the other most important entrance level examination, which is held at the national level for the enrollment of the students in the government merchant navy institutions, which is called A.I.M.N.E.T or All India Merchant Navy Entrance Test.

Course Fees

The cost for Marine Engineering course varies from Rs.2,20,000 to Rs.10 lacs for all four years depending on the university and the state selected. The cost for B.Sc. Nautical Science varies from Rs.2 Lacs to Rs.8 Lacs for all three years depending on the university and the state selected.

The four Government Training Institutes providing Pre-Sea and Post-Sea training of international repute are:

  1. Training Ship Chanakya, Navi Mumbai.
  2. Marine Engineering & Research Institute (MERI), Kolkata.
  3. Marine Engineering & Research Institute (MERI), Mumbai.
  4. Lal Bahadur Shastri College of advanced Maritime Studies and Research, Mumbai.

The pay depends upon the type of the ship, education, qualification, job title, job description, experience and competency of an individual. The statistics show that if the remuneration is paid by an Indian shipping company varies from Rs. 12,000 to Rs. 8 lacs a month. On a foreign vessel, remuneration varies from US $ 2500 to US $ 15,000 per month.

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