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Education in India, Career in India: Merchant Navy

Looking for a Career Option in the Field of Merchant Navy ? This section features Merchant Navy as a career option, elaborated with reference to the job profile, personality traits required, the courses and training involved, premier institutions and future prospects.

The Merchant Navy is a non-combatant commercial fleet, which deals with transporting cargo and occasionally, passengers, by sea. Its fleet is therefore composed of passenger vessels, cargo liners, tankers, carriers, as well as other special types of vehicles. A career in this field is full of adventure and long voyages to exotic places. Above all this, the excellent pay and promising promotional opportunities make the career lucrative and exciting in spite of all the hard work life and long absence from family and home.

The Merchant Navy is composed of vessels(ships)which carry cargo(called bulk carriers) or oil(called tankers) or passanger(called liners).These ships may belong to Indian or foreign Shipping companies.Merchant navy career options mainly includes the navigating officers, radio officers and marine engineers.

In Merchant Navy, major tasks performed are in three basic areas of a ship. The Deck, the Engine and the Service Department. There are thus, many career options that are available for any youngster who has dreams to join the merchant navy. The deck officers include the captain, chief officer, second officer, third officer and other junior officers. The engine department consists of the chief engineer, radio officer, electrical officer and junior engineers. The service department manages the kitchen, laundry, medical and other services. Jobs are available with shipping companies in India and other countries.

Personality Traits

Merchant Navy should have ability to work as one of a team, self-confidence, love for adventure tough physical constitution, optimistic outlook, capacity for hard work, love for travelling, adaptability and a sporting spirit.


The two major streams in Merchant Navy India are : Navigating Officers and Marine Engineers.

Navigating Officers have to undergo three-year training course in the therotical and practical aspect of nautical science.This trainig imparted in the trainig ship(TS)Chanakya,Mumbai.At the end of three-year course the cadets are awarded by the B.SC.Nautical Science by the university of Mumbai.After successful complition of this cadet officers have to complete one year in the deck department before being able for thesecond mates certificate of competency.During this period a nominal stipend is paid to them. The Marine Engineering Research Institute(MERI) Kolkata, formerly known as the Directorate of Marine Engineering Training(DMET), imparts training in marine engineering.Admission to most institutions is on the basis of written tests and interviews.Medical standards are uniformly imposed.


Please click here for the list of the Merchant Navy Institutes in India.

Placements And Prospects

Merchant Navy is the backbone of international trade, carrying cargo across the globe. Without the merchant navy, much of the import-export business would grind to a halt. Therefore trained personnel is required for various departments of the ship and this widens the scope for employment in this field.
In the Merchant navy career the offered jobs in the following major areas :

  • By various shipping companies in the government and private sector.
  • Foreign shipping companies also offer good job prospects.
The Different Career Options:

  1. Deck Department:

    The Deck Officers: Deck officer or navigation officer as the name suggests is in charge of the navigation of the ship. That particular department is called Deck department. The captain or the master of the ship is in charge of the ship. He is not only responsible for the safe navigation of the vessel but also for the discipline on the ship and safety of passengers, crew and the cargo. He must ensure the observance of national and international codes of conduct guiding sea transportation. The captain of the ship is further assisted by first mate, second mate and third mates. The First Mate / Chief officer is the right-hand man to the Captain; the second in-command. He overseers all the cargo planning, assists during navigation, allocates duties and work for the maintenance and upkeep of the ship to the Deck Cadets and deck crew, ensures that discipline and order are maintained. The Second Mate / Second officer, assistant to the First Mate is in-charge of checking all mails and keeping the navigational equipment and charts in good condition and also assists in navigational watches at sea and cargo watches at port. The Third Mate / Third officer is responsible for keeping safety equipments -the lifeboats, firefighting and signaling equipment in top condition; acts in the capacity of signal officer and assists with cargo work. The deck department also has other staff with specific duties called 'ratings'. They act as look outs and helmsmen, assist with the securing of the ship as it docks at ports and help clean tanks and holds before the cargo is placed in them.

  2. Engine Department:

    Marine Engineers: Marine Engineers have the complete responsibility of the ship's engine room. The main personnel in this department is the Ship engineer/chief engineer who ensures safe and economic running of all engines, boilers, electrical, refrigerating and sanitary equipment, deck machinery and steam connections aboard the ship. He supervises the work of the engine-room crew and is assisted in his duties by the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Engineers and other junior personnel.

    Second engineer looks after the day to day work in the engine room. Third engineer is in charge of the main engine, spare parts for the main engine, all purifiers, boilers, compressors etc. Fourth and fifth engineers are in charge of the numerous generators onboard ship as well as certain small pumps. Besides the officers of the navigation and engineering teams most ships have a Radio Officer and an Electrical officer. The Radio Officer is in charge of the radio room and handles the operation of the wireless and transmitting of signals. Electrical Officer is responsible for the functioning and handling of all electrical equipment onboard the vessel. There is another one named seaconny, who ensures that the ship is on course and that the gangway at port is well-guarded.

  3. Service Department:

    The work undertaken here revolves around the living and catering services for all the crew on board. A chief steward heads a large team of stewards, bakers, messmen etc. Apart from this, the department also has other services such as the services of Divers for underwater examination of the heel of the ship, propellers, pipes etc. Light Keepers, who operate light house signaling equipment to guide incoming and passing ships, and Nautical surveyors, who prepare charts of particular regions of the seas, with regard to topography and conditions of the sea.

Ministry of Surface Transport, Government of India, takes care of the training needs and conducts competency exam through the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS). The career in Merchant navy offers bright prospects to navigating officers and marine engineers.Prospects of promotions are directly linked to passing of requisite competency exams conducted by Ministry of Surface Transport through the DGS.The career in Merchant Navy thus, offers high salaries, thrill, challenge and advanture-all in one package.

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