By Pankhuri Kumar
Being a merchant navy officer is a dream for many but can be successfully followed only by a few. It requires you to be good in all possible areas; be it your medical fitness or your endurance levels. A merchant navy officer is learning new things himself and passing on his experience to his juniors to mold their future. If you are able to become a merchant navy officer then apart from the glamour, you also get a lot of incentives that make your life comfortable.
A merchant navy or merchant marine is the fleet of merchant vessels that are registered in a specific country. Merchant navy officers are employed by commercial shipping companies to work on all kinds of seagoing vessels, such as cruise liners, cargo ships, tankers and hovercraft.
What are the responsibilities of a merchant navy officer?
If one chooses to be a navigation or deck officer then he will be required to check the weather reports, manage the loading unloading of cargo, and also to look after the communication systems. The officer is also responsible for the maintenance of machinery and navigating using the radar systems. He has to take care of the passengers and prevent the vessel from any damage. He also has to monitor life saving and fire fighting equipment.
If you choose to be an engineering officer you need to keep all the electrical equipment well maintained. The legal and operational records also need to be updated. The duties like repairing and maintaining of pumping systems, air compressors and sewage plants will be done by you. You need to conduct regular equipment inspections also.
The merchant navy has three possible openings in terms of a career.
- The Deck- This part includes the captain and the chief officer. The second, third and other junior officers also form the deck.
- The Engine- This part of the ship has opportunities for becoming the chief engineer, electrical officer and other junior engineers.
- The Saloon Department – This department caters to other needs like kitchen, laundry etc.
What are the various routes of becoming a merchant navy officer in India?
A) To begin with the aspirant is required to give his class 12th boards with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics
After this he is required to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Nautical Science or Marine Engineering to become a part of the Merchant Navy. For this, the candidate needs to clear the Joint Entrance Examination conducted the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). After the entrance, the next comes the personal interview round where qualities like alertness and awareness in various situations are tested. Once the candidate clears the interview, he is eligible to do B.Sc. in Nautical Science and Marine engineering from TS Chanakya, Mumbai and Marine Engineering from the Marine Engineering Research Institute (MERI), in Calcutta and Mumbai. These are a part of the Indian Maritime University.
After putting in all this hard work and clearing these hurdles, a person becomes qualified to become a Marine engineer at the 5th rank or a junior engineer. The candidates that pursued Nautical Science become Deck Cadets.
The further promotions depend on how the officer performs at the examination that the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) conducts. For promotions, the quality of the work and the experience is put into priority. It is solely merit based. The DGS also gives away certificates of competency that are a must to work your way up.
B) There is also an option of direct entry to Merchant Navy
The student can achieve the direct entry to merchant navy just after they give their class twelfth exam with Physics, Chemistry and Maths (PCM). They join as Deck Cadets but have to under go training, which is arranged by the recruiters. They are also expected to a nine-month course conducted by MERI.
What are the Eligibility Criteria Apart from Academics?
Apart from clearing the educational barriers, the candidate is required to pass a medical test to join the service. The test can only be cleared if the candidate has a 6/6 vision and no colour blindness.
What is the Pay Package of a Merchant Navy Officer?
This is a well-paod profession. The starting salary itself can vary from Rs.25,000 – Rs.1,00,000 per month and it increases with the increase in the ranks. The best part about being a navy officer is the perks that one gets. The perks include free food, accommodation, a paid leave and many other facilities for the officer and his family.
Though they have a very hectic and a hard life, but they are paid well and are taken care of very well.
If you feel that you have what it takes to be a merchant navy officer and you can overcome all the hurdles, then there is no stopping you.
From being mentally strong to being emotionally stable you need to have it all. You need to know how to work in a team and think about others before you.
Knowledge about how the various machines work should be in depth and you should know how to adjust to changing environmental conditions. The biggest hurdle for many is that they end up being seasick. It is surely a tough profession to follow but you will surely get full job satisfaction and the feeling that you could make a change to this world.
About the Author
Pankhuri Kumar is a student of Economics (Honours) at Hindu College, University of Delhi. She is a big believer in the power of positivity and plans to do her MBA in the future. In her free time, Pankhuri can be found checking out new places to eat and shop at.