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Merchant Navy


"Every seaman is not only a navigator, but a merchant and also a soldier."

The Merchant Navy is a non-combatant commercial fleet, which deals with transporting cargo and passengers by sea. Its fleet is therefore composed of passenger vessels, cargo, liner tankers, carriers, as well as other special types of vehicles. Merchant navy is a career full of adventure and long voyages to different beautiful places. In spite of a lot of hard work and long absence from home, the Merchant navy professionals earn a high tax free salary, with other numerous benefits and promising promotional opportunities. This makes merchant navy a lucrative and exciting career.
The main positions open in the merchant navy are for marine engineers, navigating officers and radio officers. In a field which was hitherto purely for men, there is some positive change visible now, with many women joining merchant navy as ship doctors and radio officers.
The employment on board a ship is divided into three different streams. Deck officers, Engineers and Ratings. Deck officers are headed by the Captain of the ship. Deck officers are responsible for navigation, safe and efficient movement of the ship and transportation of cargo. To navigate the ship they use a range of satellite, radar systems and equipments and communication systems. Checking weather and navigation reports is very important; it helps in taking appropriate action. Deck officers monitor the loading, storage and unloading of cargo and the maintenance of deck machinery. They also take care of the safety, firefighting and life-saving equipment in terms of any emergency. They also maintain the legal and operational records.
The Engineering department looks after the main engine, which is gigantic and complicated. They are also responsible for the operation of mechanical and electrical equipment on board, managing power, fueling and distribution systems, repairing and upgrading systems and equipments and implementing regular equipment inspections and maintenance programmes. Engineers also need to be updated with new developments in the marine engineering field.
Ratings has three categories. Deck rating is responsible for handling cargo, mooring / unmooring and general maintenance. Engine ratings who help the engineering officers in maintenance of engine and other equipments. Saloon (catering) consists of steward / cooks, they look after the housekeeping and catering.

Courses & Eligibility

Merchant Navy - The courses offered by Institutes are:
3 year degree course in Nautical Science for (10+2) students.
4 year degree course in Marine Engineering for (10+2) students.
2 year course for Diploma Holders.
1 year course for Graduate Mechanical Engineers.
3 month course for Deck Cadets for (10+2) students.
4 month Pre-Sea Course for General Purpose (GP) rating.
3 month Pre-Sea Course for Deck rating.
3 month Pre-Sea Course for Engine rating.
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) Mains 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 Fee

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.

Top Colleges

Here's a list of institutes from where one can puruse course in marine engineering:
(1.) Tolani Maritime Institute (TMI), Pune
(2.) Samundra Institute of Maritime Studies - Mumbai
(3.) International Maritime Institute (IMI), Delhi/NCR
(4.) Maharashtra Academy of Naval Education and Training (MANET), Pune
(5.) Institute of Technology & Marine Engineering (ITME), Kolkata
(6.) B.P. Marine Academy, Navi Mumbai
(7.) TS Rahaman Mumbai, India
(8.) Coimbatore Marine College (CMC), Coimbatore
(9.) Academy of Maritime Education & Training (AMET University), Chennai
(10.) Maritime Foundation, Chennai
(11.) Chennai School of Ship Management, Chennai
(12.) MASSA Maritime Academy (MMA), Chennai
(13.) S B Vignesh Marine Training Centre, Chennai
(14.) Cosmopolitian Technology of Meritime, Chennai
(15.) Vels University, Chennai
(16.) International Maritime Academy (IMA)

Pay and Remuneration

The pay depends upon the type of the ship, educational 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.

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. The foreign shipping companies offer better pay packages.
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.

Famous Personalities

Many fascinating people who have a navy background and have excelled in their field they were researchers, designers, explorers and also inventors.
Martin Behaim (1459-1537) - Mapmaker, navigator, and merchant who made the earliest globe, called the Nurnberg Terrestrial Globe.
John Elder was a Scottish marine engineer and shipbuilder. He was born at Glasgow on 8 March 1824. Elder was a leader in marine architecture and steamship construction and headed an engineering operation. The firm of millwrights, later renamed John Elder & Co, moved into shipbuilding and 111 sets of steam engines were built at the Fairfield yard during Elder's time.

A Day In Life

A typical day would vary with the function but essentially the ship has to navigate the passage and the cargo/ passengers have to reach safely. For some it can include surveying the underwater pipe lines or connections to the new oil platforms while for some it would include the routine maintenance of the marine engines.
Oil tankers and many container ships are very large and sometimes cannot fit on the harbor so they remain away from the port. So, one can be in the water for months together. Usually the schedules are hectic and there isn't much time for relaxation. But as they say no day is ever the same for a merchant navy officer!

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