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Merchant Navy Career Course Institutions in India and Abroad

Merchant Navy

Almost all of us have, at some point of time, shared fascination for the stories of hair-raising adventures and thrilling odysseys of sea-farers and merchants who would go on voyage from shore to shore and come laden with riches. The modern system of transport and communication has now revolutionized the practice and meaning of business. Merchant Navy, which is the con-combatant commercial fleet that transports cargo from one destination to another around the globe by sea, offers a very lucrative career for persons who are sea-farers by passion. Globalisation and inter-dependence of global trade and commerce provide a rewarding and one of the most prospering career opportunities for young budding candidates. Merchant Navy also provides opportunity to be with one of the greatest creations of nature-seas/oceans for days/months on end.

Of all the career options available to young persons, Merchant Navy is one which not only ensures a good life with lucrative pay packet but also offers a challenging opportunity to be with one of the greatest creations of nature seas / oceans for days/ months on end, Unlike the regular Navy, which is responsible for defending the territorial waters of a country, Merchant Navy is the noncombatant commercial fleet which transports cargo from one destination to another around the globe by sea. At times, it transports people as well. Since air transportation of goods is quite prohibitive and limited in scope, it's the ships which carry 90 percent of would trade. With seaborne trade forecast to almost double over the next 15 years, one can very well imagine the number of people, this sector can employ right now and in future. Despite the fact that Indian shipping fleet among the developing countries and ranks among the top countries in the would in shipping tonnage, there is still a big scope for expansion since our ships carry only 43 percent of the country's seaborne trade.

The areas of activity in Merchant Navy are broadly grouped in three categories:
  • Navigation;
  • Engineering; and
  • Radio & Wireless Communication.

Officers in this category concern themselves with navigation of the ship, the loading and off-loading of cargo and safety of the passengers (if any) and the crew. The Captain of the ship is the chief navigator. He decides the course the ship would take and guides the ship to safety during inclement weather and other emergencies. The Captain takes complete charge of the men and materials boarding the ship. All other officers help him in carrying out his duties.


The marine engineers are responsible for efficient engineers are responsible for efficient and smooth operation of the ship. They take care of all engineering equipments installed on the ship including all electrical and refrigeration machinery.

Ratio & Wireless Communication:

This department is concerned with the shore and maintaining the equipments as well.

Further, to look after the maintenance of living and catering services for officers and crew members on board a ship, there is service department. In addition, there are divers who examine the underwater ship; nautical surveyors for preparation of topographical charts of particular regions of sea. The light keepers help in operating the signaling equipment of the ship in the right direction.

Eligibility for Merchant Navy

The eligibility conditions and options to join the Merchant Navy are as follows:

(1) To join the navigation or marine engineering branch of Merchant Navy, one must have a bachelor's degree in Mechanical or Marine Engineering or a degree of B.Sc. in Nautical Science from any recognized university of institute.

(2) One can also join as a deck cadet on board a ship after completing 10 + 2 with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics and train on the job for three years. After the on-job training one has to appear for the competency examination, as required by the Union Ministry of Surface Transport, to be eligible to become a Navigation Officer.

Courses in Merchant Navy

The courses related to Merchant Navy should be approved by Director-General of Shipping, Government of India. The various pre-sea courses for joining Merchant Navy either as a Deck/Engineer Officer are:

  • A four-year degree course leading to BE (Marine) after 10+2.
  • The 2? years courses leading to Alternate Training Scheme for Marine Engineers (ATS) after 10+2.
  • Degree courses leading to B.Sc. (Nautical Science) after 10+2.
  • The Graduate Mechanical Engineer course after BE/B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering.
Physical Requirements for Merchant Navy

In addition, all the candidates who apply for the degree course should be physically and mentally fit. The Navigators are required to have a perfect eyesight, though marine engineers can wear spectacles for eyesight up to plus/minus 2.5. Colour blind people need not apply.

There are two premier institutions which impart training for Merchant Navy:
(a) T.S. Chanakya, Mumbai which offers a three-year degree course leading to B.Sc. in Nautical Sciences.
(b) The Marine Engineering Research Institute (MERI), Kolkata which offers a four-year degree course leading to B.Tech. in Marine Engineering.

The navigating officers are trained in seamanship, navigation and ship maintenance and handling of navigational instruments. Exercise for physical fitness is a compulsory and part of daily affairs. Students are taught advanced marine engineering and technology during the four-year engineering programme at MERI. Also, various workshops are held to train students in overhaul, repair and maintenance of the ship's main and auxiliary machinery and shipboard systems.

One has to accomplish at least two years of service at sea after completion of the three-year B.Sc. degree in Nautical Science to get a certificate of competency of Second Mate. This certificate is issued by the Union Ministry of Surface Transport and is a must if one wants to get a job on board a merchant ship. The certificate of T.S. Chanakya is equivalent to one year of sea service.

In case one wants to join as deck cadet directly with shipping company, one has to complete a minimum of three years' service at sea to be eligible to take the Second Mate Examination.

Prospects - Merchant Navy as Career

There is a tremendous demand for trained navigating and marine officers by both the public sector as well as the private sector companies. Comparatively in this profession the salary structure is very high. In the domestic companies the starting salaries may vary from Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 50,000 per month. In foreign ships it could be as high as Rs. 1,00,000. Unlike other professions, shipping companies employ professionals n a contractual basis, which is for six to nine months.

Since life on board a ship is generally monotonous for most of the people, there are arrangements for all kinds of conveniences as well as entertainment in order to minimize boredom. Spacious lounges, televisions, indoor sports facilities and a range of other recreational facilities are now-a-days part and parcel of most of the ships. For the senior officers, the ships provide comfortable family accommodation.
Essentially, Merchant Navy is a career for men as there are a very few jobs for women. From time to time there have been suggestions to employ women as radio officers and doctors on the ship. So, if you like going on for long tours and at the same time earn good money, Merchant Navy is definitely a career for you.

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