Joining Merchant Navy, be prepared




25.20 K Views | Rishi Kashyap | 15 FOLLOW
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    Joining Merchant Navy, be prepared


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    Its amazing how I see misinformed teens joining Merchant Navy ! All they know is that they will be paid well, will travel world, will be served free wines onboard (I met one cadet who told me this too !), young beauty at every port and would live to the brim of life !.Frankly, is this much information enough to join Merchant Navy and do you know real life in Merchant Navy ? Are you strong enough to sail the High seas and bear the wrath of the Sea-world ? Ok so lets take things step by step...Most people don't even know that Indian navy is very different from Merchant Navy. While Indian Navy deals with War and staff are trained for the same, we the Merchant Navy people are trained for the carriage of goods or Cargo as we call it. Navy guys will always go on Naval Ships designed for combat while Merchant Navy people will go on various Cargo ships designed specifically to carry Cargo.Cargo ships can be : A] a Tanker carrying Oil , B] Container ships carrying Containers, C] Dry Cargo ships carrying bulk cargo like Coal, cement etc., D] Gas carrier carrying LPG or LNG cargo, E] Passenger ships with passengers onboardetc etc .So Thats for the ships but what about the work environment of Merchant Navy ? We have 3 departments onboard ships with various Merchant Navy ranks. A marine ship today generally has approximately 25-35 men onboard.Now about Merchant Navy salary, which you must be eagerly waiting for!! Again, it varies with company to company, type of ship, your experience etc. so it is very difficult to quote with confidence, but for cadets/the trainees it may start from 350 US$ to 1200 US$ per month. Third officer/Fourth Eng may get from 3000 US$ to 4000 US$ per monthly, mind you these are boys of age range 20-25 years who joined merchant navy after 12. Earned money is also tax free (sailing outside India for more than 181 days in a financial year), cool na !!! Another good news is that girls too can join Merchant Navy. So you too have started your reverie but hold on and continue reading.Wow Merchant navy is great ! Awesome World tours, another attraction of this field. While you may be thinking that we guys have traveled the whole world but surprise surprise !!Lets see the true picture now - our work culture.Before I proceed further, just a few words about me. I have experienced 10 yrs of Merchant Navy life now. So these are my own views based after years of practical sailing. Like most I too joined Merchant Navy without much knowledge about life in Merchant Navy.So coming back, all officers generally keep watches, as we call it, for minimum 8 hrs of day (twice 4 hrs). In addition to this we need to do our rank related jobs. These jobs and watches are to be maintained in particular shifts. So you can take that during sailing a normal working day may vary from 8 hrs to 12 hrs and believe me we are more than happy while sailing!At port the working hours increases as we need to go for stations/manoeuvrings while approaching ports. After making fast the vessel everyone is busy with the cargo operations (We came there for it right!). Junior officers start 6 on 6 off e.g. 6 hrs work and 6 hrs rest ...this does not mean that the officers others job is not to be done ...Port papers and Voyage planning needs to be completed prior Departure. For senior officers it means full responsibility for the operations. These days the vessel needs to be always ready for any Port State Control and vetting Inspections. Surveys and Inspections are so common that every other port there is one !So what about the shore leave ? Well you can, if you have the stamina to ! One can go ashore during his Off (rest) period but do not forget that he has to come back and start with his duties at the right time (unless he has adjusted his duties with someone else). so the shore-leave is at the cost of your rest time (read sleep). The days of long port stay are gone. Tankers (on which I have worked through out my life) stays maximum for 24 hrs unless their are other restrictions from port. Bulk carriers stay for few days while Container ships only hours. Also you cannot go ashore very far as you have to come back soon. After 9/11 incident, there are long paper works for shore-leave. Sometimes shore passes and shore-leave is not even allowed. You might be shocked but after the Taj attack in Mumbai the ports in India raised the security level and I, an Indian was not allowed to go ashore in an Indian Port in Gujarat.Now about Salary! Well if you think we guys get a handsome package at a very young age then you are not wrong but what you don't know is that why does a merchant navy guy get so much? Some say that you loose your youth, you are far from  family and you get disconnected with life. In my views it is not completely right (I will elaborate this later). I personally believe they pay us so much because of our hardships. Mind you, we do not have doctors on-board, Merchant Navy officers are trained for basic medical treatments. We don't have Fire squads to combat fire, we are trained for this too. We don't have Police or security staff and yet again we need to protect ourselves even during Somalia transits. Now tell me how much professionally demanding this field is and why we should not be paid for such kind of life? Before you think that it is very risky let me tell you that I find it more risky to walk on road than Sail on seas!!You say that's OK for you !! My friend continue reading ...You will need to work with multi-national crew and officers. There will be cultural differences which means that you have to be very particular how you behave and talk on-board. Obviously your national holidays will be missing, no weekends or Saturday parties. I have worked on a ship where there were only 2 Indian Officers and only time we met were on meal table. Ah that reminds me of the food. You might have tough time here too, with multinational crew on board. While touch-wood I never had problem on this part and have sailed with real good Philippines and Vietnamese Chief cook but some of my friends were not so lucky. Some friends switched companies because they were not able to cope with the boiled rice in every meal.If you still believe that You can handle this for the right pay, let me elaborate about Work on board. Most of us work in shifts with 4on and 8 off (If lucky) cycle. Well as told before 8 hrs off does not necessarily mean rest..You need to do other maintenance and rank related job. Do not forget, you are there to work and do not have any assistance in case of emergencies. Emergency can be of any form and during those times there is no such thing as "rest". Its a total commercial field where loss of few seconds turns out to be thousands and thousands dollars of loss to the owners/charterers and you will be asked to give your best during such tough times. Sure if the ship is an old one you will not only learn a lot but also will be too busy to think of anything else. Special ships like Gas tankers and tankers come with their own set of complexities and automation to deal with. There might be days without sleep (One Chief officer I sailed with worked for 2 days without sleep in such an emergency). If someone falls sick, his work load needs to be shared by all, be assured people will not appreciate you falling sick too often ! Treatment too needs to be done by Staff members only, until the vessel reaches port. At port you can go to qualified doctors for medical treatment.If you think I am over-exaggerating, let me tell you, I have not completed yet ! You see the calm, placid sea on which a ship sails, its beautiful ! See the most beautiful sunrise and divine sunset. Sailing ship while drizzling and staring the iridescent sky or marvel at the meteors and constellations at night. We guys are blessed to be closest to mother nature on such a Mammoth ships, but such big ships start to feel like a pack of cards which can roll over anytime during severe storms. People get Seasick and you will see things flying all over if not properly secured. Headaches and homesickness and lowest mental strength are just part of things/feelings which will follow after it. Motion sickness, as we call it, is never to be underestimated and though it takes long time to get habituated to, I have seen people leaving their jobs completely and burden others due to this.What? You say You still can bear this ! Kudos my friend, Merchant Navy demand guys like you ! While the above views were not to discourage anyone from joining Merchant Navy but to prepare them for such a demanding field. Of course you will not have such tough time on every ship and for sure not all Merchant Navy guys are so tough!This is really a rewarding profession and with fast promotions you can secure your life early. While this is also true that you need to stay away from family for long time but things are changing. Today companies are ready to allow family carriage on-board and you can sail with your wife and kids. I know my friend who sailed with his wife and was able to checkout the famous PATAYA BEACH, lucky ?? Contracts are getting short with Junior officers signing contracts for 6 months +/- 1 and Senior officers getting contracts for 4 +/- 1, again this may vary from company to company. Companies are also considerate and understand the personal problems and requirements to adjust your contracts sometimes.Gone are those days when you were not in touch with your family and parents. Most companies provide free email service to mail text messages and Satellites phone are always there on-board. Though Internet browsing is still not present in most companies but it won't be long when you will also find companies with internet on-board.Now for vacations, on an average you are entitled 3 months vacations but it is up to you when you want to join back, just keep your company informed about your plans and they will line you up accordingly. Trust you know that you will not be paid during your vacations. This again depends on your company. Some companies have all year round pay policy but in short they have distributed the money given to you for your service on-board equally during your vacation period also.I have heard people saying that Merchant Navy officers loose their youth,loose life blah blah. I certainly do not agree to such crap. To me, we guys live more than anyone else. Nobody is forcing you to join quickly & vacations mean pure vacations, no pending jobs, no boss orders and certainly no deadlines to join. While this is true that you might or might not be able to see the world during sailing but you have both time and money to go any place in the world during vacations. I have bunch of friends with whom I always go to Tourist spots in India during each vacation (My friends call it "Bharat Darshan"). Leave aside going places, you can actually do anything which you want during your vacations. One of my friend teaches slum kids during vacations, he says it as his purpose of life, one dwells in adventure sports, other just relaxes and sleep happily while some have opted to be an entrepreneur.Even on-board with multinational or Indian crew may be fun. Parties are common thing on-board and during your leisure time you can see movies either in your cabin or a common place which we call "Smoke room". Believe me there is a movie shop in itself on-board with not less than 300 hindi and even more english movies. Cards, Carom , Table-tennis are in almost all ships. Some ships also have Basketball and Volleyball court and I can bet you, playing basketball with Philippinoes is a privilege of its own kind. Being an Indian we can always find out ways to play cricket in the most remote place on earth, ship quite obviously is not spared too. Table-tennis tournaments is very common during long sailings. If you are fond of learning you can learn a new language itself. While novels can be found on-board but a library is yet to be found on any ship for me. Some companies however do maintain library too on-board. You can do some painting if you are one of those artistic types or the health enthusiast have small Gym for them...So life on ship is also very exciting if you know how to make it so !!!Having said that if you want to join Merchant navy do consult someone in this field. Again people may have their own opinion about this field so its always better to ask and be ready before joining. A list of the Merchant navy Training Institutes for the cadets and basic requirements can be found from the Marine Courses tab but a thorough search and googling would certainly help you a lot. While there are many marine colleges in India but before joining any Institute do confirm their last placement and authenticity of Institutes. Please confirm from alumni whether any placement help is provided by Institute. Better option, is to look for advertisements published by authentic shipping Companies in India in newspapers and get selected/sponsored by such companies. They may ask you to fill some bond prior joining. Here I must add about the Merchant Navy placement agents too, who might promise you Job and a ship for your sea-time, quite obviously for some money. While not all are fake but 99.9% are, so we never recommend them. Numerous cases of bluffing Marine aspirants have been reported by such Agents, so beware of them. We highly recommend of joining Merchant Navy as a sponsored Cadet.With this note I end here and hope you are better prepared to join merchant navy now.Joining Merchant Navy be prepared

    Rishi Kashyap | 10 years ago | EDIT | REPLY
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      Congrats on your selection to Tolani Maritime for Marine Engineering in India.

      There is scarcity of job for new trainees, however Tolani is a DG Shipping approved marine engineering college with a reputed placement records in past. Also few mariners have graded Best Marine engineering College in India but nobody graded Tolani Maritime !

      It is very difficult to predict what may happen after 4 years from now, and we are really sorry no one can give you assurance of 100% placement. While I got directly placed some of my friends did not and roamed for months. Also note that marine engineer degree has less options on shore compared to software engineering, if unplaced ! I always advise people to join a field which they love as they will be spending full life doing that, you can find a small discussion at Join Merchant Navy after computer engineering. We are sorry we cannot take your life decision, have faith on yourself and take this decision yourself. Wish you all the best for your bright future.

      Rishi Kashyap | 5 years ago | EDIT | REPLY
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      Dear Sir,
      What would you say about the Masters degree by Tolani Maritime Institute after a Bachelor Degree In Mechanical Engineering? I wanted to ask If I pursue this course from TMI will I be able to work on Ship as a Junior Engineer, the site says jobs will be in the field of Ship related field. I don't want a job in offshore ship building industries and want to work on a Ship only. So If I go for this will I be placed on a Ship? TMI site ref :- http://www.tolani.edu/tmi/index ,62.html
      So would it be good if I go for this masters course by TMI, I believe in your deep knowledge aboutthis field. Please rrevert back. Thank You  

      Atharva Dhatingan | 5 years ago | EDIT | REPLY
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      @Atharva I am unsure about this course but I do not think this Maritime Course will land you on a ship ! It somehow seems to be Masters degree for Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. I think after this course you can either apply in the ship construction field like Yards or Dry-docks or else as Surveyors for Ship Inspection.

      The course is in liaison with UK College and job scenario is unknown after doing this course. I would recommend you to check Join Merchant Navy after Mechanical engineering. Hope you find it helpful. Best of Luck.  

      Rishi Kashyap | 5 years ago | EDIT | REPLY
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      Sir,I passed cbse with 82% and plant to join merchant navy as a sponsored candidate from Anglo Eastern. Is it a good decision? I am prepared for the hardships that await me but what is the job security in this field?  

      Abhishek Mohan | 5 years ago | EDIT | REPLY
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      hello sir .. i am pranav arya ..i passed my 12th in science from DAV public school delhi in 2012 ..i have secured 76% total ...63 % aggregate in pcm , 92% in english ..i wanna know is it important to take coaching from some collage even for the smallest job in the merchant navy ..actually i wanna join as a deck cadet directly hired by a company after my 12th or you please tell me what is the best option for me to get any job in merchant navy .. i will be very thankful to you ..  

      Arya Arya | 5 years ago | EDIT | REPLY



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