Gear up for a life on the high seas

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Merchant navy aspirants can join institutions approved by the Directorate General of Shipping to become either navigating officers or marine engineers, depending upon their choice.

Responsible role: To be employed as a navigating officer on a merchant ship, candidates should obtain a certificate of competency; students at the Indian Maritime University, Uthandi, near Chennai. Photo: Special arrangement
Responsible role: To be employed as a navigating officer on a merchant ship, candidates should obtain a certificate of competency; students at the Indian Maritime University, Uthandi, near Chennai. Photo: Special arrangement

Training in merchant navy in India is planned, organised, controlled, and executed under the guidance and supervision of the Directorate General of Shipping, Government of India. Every training institution should have the recognition of the DGS. There are different styles of entry as officers in merchant navy. Let us look at the important paths of entry and prominent institutions in this discipline.

There is a basic division in training — as marine engineers, and as navigating officers.

Indian Maritime University

The Indian Maritime University was established with its headquarters in Chennai as a Central university in 2008. It integrated into its fold seven maritime academic institutions, which were in existence:

National Maritime Academy, Chennai

TS Chanakya, Mumbai

Lal Bahadur Shastri College of Advanced Maritime Studies and Research, Mumbai

Marine Engineering Research Institute, Mumbai

Marine Engineering Research Institute, Kolkata

Indian Institute of Port Management, Kolkata

National Ship Design and Research Centre, Visakhapatnam

It is a teaching and affiliating university which will offer degree, postgraduate degree, and research programmes in all maritime disciplines, including the following:

Port management

Nautical science

Marine engineering

Transport and logistics (business school)

Marine sciences

Maritime law

Naval architecture and ship building

Inland water transport

Contact: Indian Maritime University, East Coast Road, Uthandi, Chennai - 600 119; Phone: 044 24530343; e-mail:

Training Ship Chanakya

This is no ship in the conventional sense. It is a quality training institution spread over forty acres of land close to Palm Beach Road in Navi Mumbai.

A shore-based academy managed and maintained by the Government of India, Ministry of Surface Transport, through the Directorate General of Shipping. (TS Chanakya, Karave, Navi Mumbai 400 706. Ph: 022 - 2770 1935; e-mail: This is the successor of TS Dufferin (1927-1972), and TS Rajendra (1972-1993).

It has fine infrastructure for training. The flagship programme is the three-year B.Sc. (Nautical sciences) degree awarded by the University of Mumbai.

Some of the other programmes in TS Chanakya are one-year diploma course in nautical science, and a three-month pre-sea course. It runs short-term programmes in areas such as fire fighting and GMDSS.

The selection to the three-year B.Sc. (nautical sciences) is through the All-India Joint Entrance Examination conducted by IITs. Those who have passed the Plus Two examination with mathematics, physics, and chemistry as optional subjects with the prescribed minimum marks are eligible to apply for the test, subject to age and marital status. There would be 185 seats.

The syllabus for training is drawn with a view to giving a broadbased marine education with special emphasis on navigation. Other marine professional subjects and their applications are also covered. The candidates are trained to take up responsibilities of navigating officers.

The programme is designed to inculcate officer-like qualities and a high sense of discipline. Physical training is an essential part of the curriculum to keep the young persons fit for the tough and adventurous career at sea.

It is compulsory for all cadets to pass the swimming test before passing out from this institution.

The syllabus would touch the following areas as well:

Scholastic: Subjects like English and communication skills, applied mathematics, physics and electronics, computer science and marine management, laboratory exercises.

Professional: Navigation, astronomy, practical navigation, voyage planning including chart work, magnetic and gyro compasses, electronic navigational aids, namely, radar, decca, loran, satellite navigation, GPS, GMDSS and ship operation technology, naval architecture, cargo work, ship maintenance, collision prevention and marine communications.

Applied subjects: Maritime law, marine engineering and control systems and environmental sciences (meteorology, geology, oceanography, marine pollution, hydrographic survey).

Certificate of Competency

To be employed as a navigating officer on a merchant ship, you should obtain a certificate of competency.

The examinations for these certificates are conducted in India by the Ministry of Surface Transport through DG Shipping.

There are specific norms relating to manning of ships and examinations for issuing Certificates of Competency.

The first Certificate of Competency in the navigation department is that of a Second Mate (F.G). After successful completion of the three-year degree course in nautical sciences, the officer cadets are required to complete one-year sea service on board a merchant ship before becoming eligible for grant of Second Mate (F.G.) Certificate of Competency.

You have to appear only in an oral examination and certain other mandatory courses. During sea service, you get a nominal stipend. Usually cadets get appointment in shipping companies through campus recruitment.

After acquiring a Certificate of Competency as Second Mate (F.G.), an officer is eligible to be appointed as a Third or a Second Officer.

For subsequent promotions, you have to render further sea service and progressively pass the higher examinations appropriate for that rank, namely, First Mate (F.G.) and Master (F.G.).

The Certificate of Competency as Master (F.G.) entitles you to become the captain of merchant navy ships.



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