Conquering the mighty seas

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CHALLENGING: The merchant navy fleet comprises passenger vessels, cargo ships, tankers, oil rigs, naval ships and other vessels. -
CHALLENGING: The merchant navy fleet comprises passenger vessels, cargo ships, tankers, oil rigs, naval ships and other vessels. -

A career in the merchant navy offers an opportunity to visit foreign lands and experience varied cultures and all this happens while one gets paid handsomely, writes SUMIT BHATTACHARJEE

Being one among the oldest industries in the world, shipping industry has undergone a sea change over the years. Today, the merchant navy fleet comprises vessels of varying sizes and categories. They include passenger vessels, cargo ships, tankers (oil, gas, chemical), oil rigs, naval ships and other specialised vessels.

Trained people from various nationalities man and operate these ships. A career in merchant navy offers a unique opportunity for visiting foreign lands and experiencing varied culture and all these happens while one gets paid handsomely.

How to join

Basically there are two entry points -- engine side and deck side. People with an engineering degree or diploma join the engine side and ones with B.Sc (nautical science) take deck assignments. Here is how, one can make it to the deck side:

The basic eligibility criterion is 10+2 or intermediate with 55 per cent marks in MPC group. Pre-sea training is pre-requisite for joining merchant navy and thus one has to join an institute to acquire the required skills or institutes that offer B.Sc. (nautical science).

“Apart from having 55 per cent in 10+2 one should be without colour blindness and have a minimum of 6/6 eyesight and be less than 25 years,” says Director of Sailors Maritime Academy K.V.S. Sridhar.

There are two ways of acquiring the degree -- join in a diploma course that leads to a degree in B.Sc (nautical science) or join an academy that imparts three-year or four-year degree in nautical science.

Institutes like Sailors Maritime Academy imparts one-year diploma in nautical science followed by 18-month onboard training in combination with distance learning programme followed by four months of post-sea training at the institute. After the four-month training a student will be issued certificate of competency and a degree in nautical science and will be eligible to join a ship as second mate. The degree is issued by Indian Maritime University and the certificate of competency is issued by DG Shipping. The entry into the institute is subject to getting a rank in the all-India entrance examination conducted by the IMU.

T.S. Chanakya, Mumbai, an academy directly under the IMU, also imparts a similar one-year diploma programme that leads to a degree in nautical sciences and a full-time three-year B.Sc. nautical science programme. For entry into the diploma programme one has to secure a rank in the entrance examination conducted by IMU and for the three-year programme the entry is through IIT-JEE.

Four-year degree

Tolani Maritime Institute, Pune, offers a four-year degree in nautical technology. The entry is subject to clearing a test conducted by the institute. Whether, it is a three-year or a four-year degree, the students have to take up a minimum of nine months of onboard training and the four month course for certificate of competency. During the onboard training one will be paid a stipend varying between USD 250 to 300.

Career chart

After obtaining the certificate of competency for second mate, one can join a ship as third officer with a minimum salary of USD 3,300 per month. After completing 18 months of sea time one can apply for the chief officer’s examination and get promoted as chief officer. The salary of a chief officer varies from USD 6,000 to 8,000 per month. Again after 18 months of sea time one is eligible to write the examination to get promoted as master. The salary of a master or ship captain varies between USD 8,000 to 15,000 per month.

Apart from T.S. Chanakya, Sailors Maritime Academy and Tolani there are about 28 public and private institutes offering the B.Sc. nautical science programme in India.

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