packets, great working experience, early retirement and on-shore working
options after retirement, all these make Merchant Navy exciting and rewarding”.
As the popular
song goes. “Where can you find pleasure, search the world for treasure,
learn science, technology? Where can you begin to make your dream all comes
true on the land or on the sea? In the ‘Merchant Navy” yes, you can sail the
A career with Merchant Navy can
be both exciting and rewarding if charted out property. Broadly it can be classified
into two segments: deck side and Engine side. The former deals with navigation
and overall management of a ship, and the latter the running of the ship.
What is Merchant Navy?
The Merchant Navy is a fleet of
noncombatant commercial ships that deals with transportation of passengers and
cargo. The fleet includes cargo liners, tankers, containers, bulk careers, gas
tankers, chemical tankers and passenger vessels.
On the deck side the career
begins as a sea cadet and them goes up the ladder as
third mate, second mate, first mate and finally the captain. For a good seaman
it hardly takes 10 years to become the captain of a ship. In the engine side
the career starts as third engineer till one become the chief engineer.
How to join as a cadet?
The minimum eligibility is 10+2
with Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. The candidates should essentially be
unmarried and not more than 20 years of age (Relaxed by five years for SC/ST
candidates). Ideally there are two ways of getting into the deck side of the
merchant navy. First through the institute run by the Ministry of Surface
Transport, T.S. Chanakya (formerly TS Rajendra), Navi Mumbai, and the other is
through a couple of institute run by shipping majors like Great Eastern and
Tolani Shipping in Indian and foreign companies like Wallam and Nedlloyd. There
are also quite a few private institute but the candidates should essentially
check whether they are recognized by the Director General of Shipping or not.
To get into Chankya one has to go
through the IIT-JEE, while the other institute have
their own set of selection procedures. The trainees also have to match a few
physical standards to make to the selection grade, which includes a stringent
check on eyesight.
The courses at
Chanakya is for three years and students are awarded a B.Sc (Nautical
Science) on completion. Chanakya graduates can attempt the third mate
examination after spending six months on board as deck cadets. While at the
same time the students who come into the profession after completing the
three-and-a-half month training at various other
private institutes have to undergo a minimum of three years on board a deck
cadets before they can attempt the third mate examination.
Life in merchant navy is a mixed
bag. On one side a person has to be at sea for long periods of time away from
home and family and on the other side it provides a lot of excitement and
adventure and opens up opportunity to see new places and a variety of cultures.
People who want to join the
engine side in ship can opt of the premier institute in the country MERI
(Marine Engineering & Research institute), Kolkata or its branch in Mumbai.
MERI conducts a four-year marine
engineering course equivalent to a degree in Marine Engineering. The intake
capacity of the above course is around 120 per year. Both institutes are fully
equipped to impart effective training in all the branches of Marine
Engineering. The cadets for admission are selected through a combined all India
entrance examination conducted by IIT-JEE, all over the there are also other
private institute recognized by DG shipping where one can take the training.
Today there is a churn out of
over 4,000 marine engineers all over the country annually from different
institutes compared to a few decades ago when it was only about 100, but the
demand is ever growing.
The packet is lucrative and that
is one factor luring young minds for decades. The pay and perks depend upon the
type of the ship, experience and competency of an individual and the company.
On an average a starter might get around 700 to 1,000 USD. A third mate or a
third engineer could draw somewhere around 1,500 to 2,000 USD, second mate or
second engineer – 2,200 to 3,500 USD, chief officer and chief engineer 5,000 to
8500 USD and the captain’s packet may vary from 6,000 to 8,000 USD. Some who
join tankers and gas vessels now demand over 12,000 USD a month.
On an average one can become a
captain or a chief engineer by the age of 30 and after a couple of years of service,
contemplate an early retirement.
The early retirement also helps
them to take up on shore assignments. On ship or on shore they are in demand by
the shipping industry. Many multi-national ship management firms look for
Indian masters for the shore jobs.
Ship management is a new concept
where a few companies run the show by hiring professionals with core expertise.
Today most ship owners let out their vessels to such companies to run the show.
The ship management firms in turn hire the experience of captains and chief
engineers to operate on shore jobs like logistics, chartering and operations.
So whether board or on shore the career is wide open.