Shipping is an archaic industry, which even today is the backbone of international trade, but surprisingly, the commons are ignorant of merchant shipping. Ask a stranger about the merchant navy; they will relate it to the Naval Forces. There is a lack of awareness among people on how the shipping industry works. Truth be told, many cadets joining the training institutes are unaware of what they are getting themselves into (Engine/Deck) until they join the course. Thanks to the internet, there are many social media influencers and websites spreading awareness about the same. But many myths and rumors are circulating to date.
Is Merchant Navy a good career choice for now?
It depends on the reason behind joining the field; if you are just in it for the money without the nature of adapting to diverse situations with a lack of motivation and skills, you will be disheartened. Merchant Navy is a highly competitive job that requires both presence of mind and body while performing any task. This profession suits people who can adapt to situations quickly and are here to learn things with a positive attitude enhancing their knowledge and skills; they must be ready to get back to work at any point of time (24/7) when there is an emergency on-board and obey the orders given to them.
With the rapid advancements in technology, a seafarer never stops studying or learning new concepts. Even if you are a Captain or a Chief Engineer, you need to get trained, irrespective of your age and experience; this can be challenging for those who want to stop studying /giving exams after a certain age. Even after graduating from the training institutes, there will be many exams (MMD) and interviews one needs to pass to obtain their Certificate of Competency (CoC) and move up in their career. At the same time, it is hard to get jobs ashore unless you are a master or a chief engineer.
Remember that you will be sailing in the middle of nowhere with just 15-20 people on-board tackling the erratic nature of the ocean; You are responsible not only for your safety but the crew, cargo, and the ship. Just one minor mishap can bring down the whole ship, putting everyone’s life in danger, and one must be prepared to face the consequences with an open mind. And it goes without saying that you will have to be away from your family/friends for at least six months a year.
If one is ready to tick all these checks, they are in for a treat. It is a fantastic profession that rewards people economically and with a satisfaction of a job well done.
How dangerous is Merchant Navy?
Ships are just mere floating bodies amidst the vast, tempestuous and unpredictable oceans; If Murphy’s law is considered, literally everything can go wrong. Some of the fundamental dangers are:
- Fire or Explosion
- Piracy attacks
- Hull Failure
- Loss of control
- Capsizing / Listing
- Damage due to equipment failure
As per the data analyzed by European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), there were 6210 injuries, 496 deaths and 2 ships lost at sea in the span of 2014-2016.
Do not let these statistics scare you; these challenges can be tackled with skilled seafarers on-board, and that is the need of the hour. “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”; challenges are a part of the job, and sailors must be adequately trained to overcome it.
What is the highest salary in the merchant navy?
After going through all these challenges, the rewarding part of this profession is the pay. Unlike other disciplines, salaries of seafarers depend on:
- Type of ship
- Experience in the rank
- Demand and Market Scenario
Masters and Chief Engineers sailing in LNG/LPG vessels get paid around 15,000 to 18,000 USD per month on an average, which is the highest salary for seagoing personnel.
Given below is the range of pay per month for seafarers according to their ranks and types of vessels:
Is Merchant Navy better than IIT?
Merchant navy is a unique vocation; candidates need to go through professional courses which focus on the work they need to perform once on-board. At the same time, cadets learn skills from other courses too; For example, a Marine Engineering cadet learns concepts from Electronics, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Naval Architecture along with the knowledge of Marine engines, Refrigeration systems, Pumps, Purifiers, etc.
There is no limit to where the learning stops because shipping is a field where technological advancements change the working technique rapidly, and seafarers need to adapt to these changes.
On the other hand, IIT does not provide any professional courses as a bachelor’s degree; they are premier institutes that produce crème de la crème candidates in engineering/management. If one is talking about the income, mariners earn more at the beginning of their career when compared to an IITian; but IITians make more in the long run and have numerous options to choose from for a living.
Merchant navy requires a lot more than conceptual and analytical knowledge; it needs people who are disciplined, zealous, versatile, passionate, and have the mental and physical strength to face the challenges at sea.
What is the age limit for Merchant Navy?
As per the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) guidelines, the age limit for all the pre-sea training courses is between 17 to 25 years. This includes Diploma in Nautical Science, B. Sc in Nautical Science, B. Tech in Marine Engineering, Graduate Marine Engineering (GME), ETO, and GP rating courses.
Once on-board, seafarers can sail as long as they are physically fit as per the medical examination reports; this is a boon and a bane to mariners as they must be in shape if they intend to sail further. There is no official retirement age as such, but some companies limit the age to 60 due to their policies; but if the person is healthy and can succumb to the physical bustle, they might be good to go.