Merchant Navy is all about working on ships which carry cargo and Passengers all over the world. It is the back bone of international trade. Without the merchant navy, much of the import-export business would come to a grinding halt. With the ocean as your backdrop and the most advanced and sophisticated ships in the world as your workplace, there really is nothing to compare with a life at sea. Many countries have their own Merchant fleets, Transporting Cargo and Passengers from one part of the world to another. The opportunity to travel around the world and the lure of adventure around the seas, besides the possibility of high remunerations attracts many youngsters to make a career in Merchant Navy.
About 90 per cent of the global goods transportation takes place through sea routes by purpose-built merchant vessels. The cost of ships could be as high as $5-100 million and it takes years to build a ship. So it's both capital-intensive and time-consuming.
"The total number of ships across the world is about 50,500. India has got a total of 35,000 officers and 110,000 seafarers while the world shipping needs around 466,000 officers and 721,000 seafarers. At the start of the year, there was a shortage of around 10,000 officers globally. India accounts for around 5 per cent of world manning," Marine officers from India are now much sought after by commercial shipping liners worldwide.
The day at sea is divided into six four-hour periods. Three group of watch standers are on duty for four hours and then off for eight hours. Seamen often work overtime during their off time.
Merchant Navy is one of the few careers where the salary hardly matters. It can range anywhere between Rs.15,000.00 to Rs.35,000 per month though the salary structure differs from Company to Company ,country to country, the import export needs, seniority etc.
All crew members and officers present on the ship are given free meals and senior officers can take along their wives for the voyage. Beside this many other things like imported liquor, canned foods, cosmetics are available on board duty free. The salary earned by the crew is tax free. In other words, the salary can be saved totally while one is on ship.
Rankings on Board
Master: A Master who is also called Captain of the ship is the highest officer aboard a ship. He oversees all ship operations and keeps the records of the ship. He is also supposed to take care of accounting and bookkeeping functions. He takes command of the vessel in inclement weather and in crowded or narrow water. He receives and implements instructions from the employers. His salary could be in the range of $10,000 and above.
Chief OFFICER: He is next only to the Master. Traditionally, a chief officer is responsible for stowage, cargo-handling, and organization of works for other seamen. He also assists the master in the navigating duties. Salary—$8,000 and above.
Second Officer: Practically the ship's navigation officer, he is also in charge of twelve to four watch.
Keeps all the books and charts up to date, monitors navigation equipment on bridge. He is also the ship's medical officer. Salary—$6,000 and above.
Third Officer: He is in charge of four to eight watch and is directly responsible for all deck operations — cargo storage and handling, deck maintenance and deck supplies. Salary—$4,000 and above.
Other Staff On Board Following personnel come from the Ratings streams and command a monthly salary of about $1,000.
Rating: Seaman, forming a support team on the ship.
Pumpman: A rating who operates pumps in an oil tanker and maintains and repairs all cargo handling equipment on tankers.
Ordinary SEAMAN: A deck crew member who is subordinate to the able bodied seaman.
Able BODIED SEAMAN: He is a member of the deck crew who is able
to perform all the duties of an experienced seaman.
Fitter: Trained in welding, refrigeration, lathe operation, die-casting, electricity, pumping, water purification, oiling, evaluating engine gauges and
one who actively helps in the engine maintenance.
Electrical Officer: Well qualified hand who undertakes maintenance and repair works of electrical and electronic equipment aboard a vessel. His salary could be higher depending on his qualification and competency.
Chief COOK: Shipboard hand who cooks and bakes. His salary could be higher depending on his qualification and competency.
Boatswain (BOSUN): The highest uncertified rating in the deck department who has immediate charge of all deck hands and who in turn comes under the direct orders of the master or chief mate or mate.
Seafarers' job market
The crew for a cargo vessel numbers less than 50 while that of a cruise ship could be anything between 300 and 1000. They are mostly taken on fixed-period contracts to join the ship during its voyage which could be as long as nine months and above. A qualified person selected by the employer company is usually flown to the port where the employer ship is anchored and the person joins the ship and begins his work in the field assigned to him. A mention is made in his continuous discharge certificate (CDC), which functions as an official record for his sea-experience. Wages are paid for the contract period.
All the jobs onboard a ship are contractual, ranging from a short period of 15 days to 9 months or so. The contract period depends on the voyage plan of a particular ship.
So, effectively, every six months, a seaman can choose a new company and vessel to work with. The salary ranges from $300-800 per month at the entry level to $10,000-12,000 and above for a captain or chief engineer. The Indian job market is flooded with international shipping companies offering most competitive wages and all kinds of perks to recruit the best hands.
Their duties vary with the type of
ship, the type of voyage, the number of crewmembers, the weather, and many other variables.