Advantages and Disadvantages of Merchant Navy: Good & The Bad Of My Sea Life.


Being a sailor since  4 years I have sailed a lot, some short and easy some long and difficult, But every sailing ended with something new. People often ask me about the advantages and disadvantages of sea life, actually most of them are intrigued about the sea and ship, well not their fault, also, guys who want to join Merchant Navy want to find out how is it there on a ship on the sea, so here it is, I am trying to Penn down some up’s and downs of my sea life, it’s not sure that my list will be the same as other mariners. So sailors please don’t take it personally….…or take it anyway!!


  1. Paid Training

Yes, After finishing your pre-sea training which is conducted in a marine school, we join a ship for onboard training as a Cadet and get paid. The Amount varies from company to company from $300-$600.Lets say when your friends will be completing their bachelor degree you will be “earning for learning” and that too in dollars

  1. Tax Free & High Income

According to Indian government if you are not present in India for 182 days, you are not eligible to pay tax. So, if your contract is more than 182 days in a year, NO TAX!!

And getting paid in dollars , working on water , actually is profitable and that too in early stages.

  1. Long Vacations.

As long as it’s considered, when you are at home, you are free to do whatever you want to. Time off varies from weeks to months and from company to company.

  1. Travel Experience (Meals & Lodging)

There is no charge for the food you eat, laundry, room you sleep in, flights u board (mostly), your company takes care of that from the day you join even as a fresher. It actually let you save more.

  1. Uniform & Respect

I don’t know about other sailors, but it makes me kinda proud u know!!

  1. Pure Environment

Not that level of pollution, after a certain time period you find yourself working in proper air conditioning, food you eat is handled by professionals.

  1. No Politics.

I am not saying this happens every time, sailors generally live like a family, but if some damned soul join you, can’t help it!!

  1. Impermanent Bosses & Colleagues

The thing is if your boss is really an a** hole, either you quit or apply for a transfer , but here you just have to bare your captain or chief or whosoever may the Officer is , for a contract, chances are you won’t see him again.

  1. Self Improvement & Time to Think.

Sailings, when you are not on duty, when as a fresher sleeping is the favorite thing, but as you grow you do things which you couldn’t do because of the lack of time , reading literature or anything else, sketching. Numismatics, there is no boundary. You think about things and yourself, it’s just you and your mind.

  1. Multi Lingual People & Cuisine

Travelling around let you to meet people from different countries, there is no Indo-Pakistan border there, if you are a foodie like me, its haven!!

  1. Limited Working Perimeter

You don’t have to get up early, freshen up , be ready , take a bus or drive through kilometers ,parking, then work or wander the market ,again travel to home, Here it’s like, get up, freshen up , change. Limited perimeter for working.

  1. Offshore Work Opportunities

Number of possibilities, being a surveyor, a pilot or just teaching in a maritime school.



  1. Long Time Away From Home.

No matter how I put this but I won’t be able to convert it , with increasing connectivity and allowance of family on ships by various companies , but still most of the time its away time. Being a sailor or accepting the fact can make you a little bit stronger than your family but the better half of yours, kids……!!

  1. 7 Day Work

There is nothing like weekends , you have to be on duty every day, and if there is any emergency be ready to stay on 24 hrs duty.

  1. Stress + Home Sickness

No matter how hard you try but it takes onto you,  mostly when your contrct is about to finish.

  1. No immediate help in any Emergency.

Imagine this you’re in pacific, no land nearby, and if any serious injury happens, we do study about medical attention , frankly first aid advanced level, but if victim require urgent hospitalization its not possible. Many deaths happen, making it one of the most dangerous profession.

  1. Studies Never Ends.

Yeah !! Don’t think that you’re an hard a*s and can go through , then comes studies , its like sea experience then exams , then again experience and then exams, this goes on and on.

  1. Relationships & Social Life

There is no stability, sometime you can call sometime you cant, there are world SIM for calling and surfing net , but it doesn’t gives that level of connectivity which you can get on a land job, so comparison here is worthless.

  1. Piracy

Though this happens rarely and in some specific parts of the world, but it does exist, companies are forced to keep private security, a new course added as ship security, and number of changes for Anti Piracy, but it does scare you,

  1. Vegetarian

Nearly impossible to survive, I WAS a vegetarian.

I believe, everyone doesn’t possess the will to become a sailor, it really takes a different kind of a man or a woman to go and be there at a ship. Today, if I am right, 30% of the freshers reach to the next level, OOW , whatever be the reason for them to leave but this is what that happens.

95% of cargo is transferred by ships alone, from petroleum to chemicals to luxury goods, it’s possible that the laptop or desktop you are reading this blog was transferred by one of a ship. If ships stop for a day you can’t imagine what can happen. That makes me, Us, important. I AM A PROUD MARINER.

Until next time, ciao!!

A Guide to Merchant Navy Officer Ranks

The field of merchant navy involves a certain order of hierarchy with the seafarers holding different ranks on ships. This ranking system ensures smooth coordination of on board operations and promotes proper management strategies.

The nomenclature of merchant navy ranking system is universally accepted by shipping companies and commercial vessels around the world. However, there can be minor changes in names and duties assigned to specific positions depending on the country to which the ship belongs.

In general, the ranking system on merchant vessels in mainly divided into following categories:

  1. Deck Department
  2. Engine Department
  3. Catering Department

The bridge of a vessel, also the navigation hub, is fitted with advanced machinery systems. The ship must be handled by people possessing the required amount of knowledge and skills for navigation. Seafarers under the deck department of the ship are vested with the responsibility of managing ship navigation, along with handling cargo gears and berthing instruments present on the deck of the ship.

Similarly, seafarers working in the ship’s engine room fall under the engine department. This mainly include marine engineers and ratings responsible for operation and maintenance of ship’s machinery.

The third department, or the catering department, is responsible for preparation of meals and general housekeeping for crew and passengers. It is to note that in general cargo ships, the catering department comprises of only 2-4 members, whereas in passenger vessels there are several members/ranks in the catering department depending on the size of the vessel and number of passengers.

A vessel thus requires a definite system of merchant navy ranks that would enable the distribution of assignments in a professional and formal manner.

The Captain (or Master) of the ship is at the top of all the ranks, holds the highest post of the ship’s crew, and is accountable to the owner of that ship. He shoulders immense responsibilities and presides over the activities occurring on board. He tackles serious issues and guides the crew to perform better. The Captain stays in command of the vessel, all the time and he regulates the proper daily transaction and handles the legal affairs of the maritime issues.

If a situation arises wherein the Captain is not on board, then automatically the Chief Officer has to take over the Captain’s work and will act as the ship’s executive officer.

Representation Image - Photograph by Jose Jacob

Merchant Navy Ranks

1. The Deck Department

  • Chief Officer/Mate
  • Second Officer/Mate
  • Third Officer/Mate
  • Deck Cadets

Deck Rating 

Chief Officer / First Mate:  Chief officer occupies the second responsible position after the Captain of the vessel. He acts as the leader of the deck department and mainly engages in the cargo affairs. He also supervises the vessel’s crew and looks after the various deck operations. The Chief Mate prioritizes the security and safe functioning of the vessel, and is concerned about the welfare of crew and passengers (if passenger ships) on board. Additionally, the correct working of the hull, the accommodation section, the cargo gearing, the security appliances and the fire prevention equipment is managed by the Chief Officer.

Second Officer/ Mate: He is the primary officer behind the navigational section of the vessel (Navigation chart preparation and paperwork) and his designation implies that he is third-in-command. His main responsibility is the standard 12-4 navigation watch duty.

Third Officer/ Mate: He is basically employed with the security measures on board, and therefore is greatly answerable to the Captain for maintaining the safety of the particular ship and its crew. After the captain, he is appointed as the fourth-in-command. Usually, the Third Officer handles the standard 8-12 watch duty.

Deck Cadet: The role of a deck cadet is quite important on ships as he can be assistance to all the officers. He is basically new to the ship and is on ships for the training purpose. Prior joining he has to undergo several courses to avoid disasters and accidents on the vessel, along with knowledge on firefighting equipment, first aid and other security measures. Special training is meted out to the Deck Cadets under the maritime law, and they prove their worth in the navigational section, besides dealing with the cargo. A newly appointed Deck Cadet needs to report to the Chief Officer of the ship, from time to time. A Cadet must observe and lend a helping hand, and try to gain as much of knowledge as possible. His ineligibility for the “Certificate of Competency” award implies that he has no permission to keep watch. He accompanies a senior officer while they stand in watch, instead.

Bosun: Bosun takes care of the crew on the deck and also assist chief officer in daily routines of the ships.

Able seaman: According to the modern nautical terminology, an able seaman (AB) possesses a merchant mariner’s document and is eligible to assist the deck department. Know more about the rank of Able Seaman here.

Ordinary seaman: The post of ordinary seaman, denoted by OS,  serves the vessel’s deck department. An OS is usually busy with tasks such as buffing, scaling, cleaning the deck and occasionally painting the superstructure, above the main deck. An ordinary seaman can undertake activities like overhauling, splicing ropes, wiring, rigging, etc and conducting repair-work on the deck. It is the Ordinary seaman’s job to ensure secure handling of cargo gears and loading or dismantling cargo. He is directly associated with the proper launching and recovering the ship’s lifeboats.  Know more about Ordinary Seaman here. 

2. The Engine Department

  • Chief Engineer
  • Second Engineer/First Assistant Engineer
  • Third Engineer/ Second Assistant Engineer
  • Fourth Engineer/ Third Assistant Engineer
  • Fifth Engineer/ Engine Cadet
  • Electrical Officer

Engine Room Rating

  • Fitter
  • Motorman
  • Wiper
  • Trainee Fitter / Trainee Wiper

Chief Engineer:  Chief engineer is the head of the engineering department on a vessel.  The required qualification for this position is loosely referred to as the “Chief’s Ticket”. Alternatively, he can also be alternatively termed as the “The Chief” and usually draws the same payment as the Captain, although the complete responsibility of a particular vessel falls solely on the Captain’s shoulder. The Chief Engineer cannot take over the ship’s charge, unless such a situation arises which has been documented under the safety measures. Chief engineer gives orders for operation and maintenance of ship’s machinery system and is responsible for the engine room department.

Second Engineer/ First Assistant Engineer: He is associated with the day-to-day activities in the engine room, and he is accountable to the Chief Engineer. He stays extremely busy most of the time on board, as he needs to constantly supervise the proper functioning of all engine room machinery systems and also assigns jobs to the other engine officers and crew. The Second Engineer generally keeps watch on the engine room, during the day time.

Third engineer/ Second Assistant Engineer: This is the next position after the Second Engineer, and is assigned jobs to look after machinery ordered by the chief engineer, along with daily watch keeping. He reports to the second engineer.

Fourth Engineer/ Third Assistant Engineer: This is the most junior rank in the engineering department. The Fourth Engineer is concerned about the correct working of the machinery systems assigned to him and also carry our watch keeping. He reports to the second engineer.

Fifth Engineer/ Engineering Cadet: Fifth engineer is a trainee under the Second Engineer officer, and he assists and learns while  observing and carrying out activities in the engine room. He would accompany a senior officer (mostly second engineer) during the watch duty.

All the engine room ratings report to the second engineer.

3. The Catering Department

  • Chief Cook
  • Trainee Cook
  • Steward

Chief Cook: Chief cook falls under the catering department of the ship. It is his duty to prepare meals regularly for the crew and passengers. He is also in charge of the food stores, and he can utilize or replenish them. The Chief Cook also inspects the equipment needed to keep the ship clean and uncontaminated in the galley area.

Trainee Cook: The trainee cook assists chief cook in preparation of meals and managing provision.

Steward: The steward, as the name suggests,is assigned tasks include cooking and serving meals on time, sweeping and maintaining the living quarters of the officers, and stocktaking the stores. It is also the job of a  steward to manage the grocery accounts, planning menus, and documents the cost control issues.

It is to note that a galley on passenger ships would involve several other ranks as well. Read here about galley jobs.

Merchant navy ranks might differ a bit depending on the country to which the ship belongs and the shipping company. However, the basic hierarchy remains the same as mentioned above.



Anish Wankhede

An ardent sailor and a techie, Anish Wankhede has voyaged on a number of ships as a marine engineer officer. He loves multitasking, networking, and troubleshooting. Marine Insight

Nearing the end…

Fox at Sea

Ok so it’s been a while…  A long while…  My bad…  In a nutshell I was really bored, really tired (of almost everything) and just wanted the trip to be over, hence my lack of enthusiasm to blog.

So I left off back in January when we were around Japan and I’d just started being Official Helmsgurrrl.  Well I’m pleased to announce that from Singapore all the way around to Bremerhaven where I left the ship, it remained intact and dent free from my driving.  Yeah I’m not bad at the whole steering lark (I should be with 90 odd hours of it) but I always had a really deep fear that I’d get overconfident/cocky and do something…  “Less than ideal” shall we say.  Lucky I had a fear of that fear so all was well.  Steering all of the locks of the Panama Canal and then into Manzanillo…

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British naval losses on 28 May 1940 during Operation Dynamo

Naval Matters

M/S trawler HMT Thomas Bartlett (T/Skipper J. Thomlinson RNR) mined and sunk off Calais.

A/S trawler HMT Thuringia (Chief Skipper D. Simpson RNR) mined and sunk in the Channel.

Passenger ferry MV Queen of the Channel bombed and sunk by German aircraft.

Coastal steamer SS Abukir (Capt R. Morris-Woolfenden) torpedoed and sunk by German E-boat S.34 (OLt.z.S Obermaier) which then stopped to machine gun survivors in the water.

M/S paddle steamer HMS Brighton Belle carrying ~800 evacuated troops struck a submerged wreck off North Sand Head and sunk. Survivors rescued by the Medway Queen.

HMS Brighton Belle, clipping from Daily Mirror story on Dunkirk published 5 June 1940.

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Sunset Section 215

Capt Jills Journeys

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad the Senate let the domestic spy program (part of the most bogusly named PATRIOT act) where they collect ALL of YOUR phone records, internet records, etc sunset. I hope to hell the congress will get together and just let it die! Do NOT replace it with the so-called “Freedom Act” (another falsely named bill). These laws are completely unconstitutional and totally unjustified. On top of that they’re just plain wrong. Didn’t we used to hate NAZI Germany and Soviet Russia for treating their people this way? It was wrong when they did it and it is JUST AS WRONG now when WE do it!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe for 1 New York second that the fact that the government is not allowedby law to spy on any American citizen without a valid warrant will stop them…

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Women at war: How women ended up on the front line in Afghanistan

Featured Image -- 214

In 2010 the U.S. Army Special Operations Command created a pilot program to put women on the battlefield in Afghanistan. In this edited excerpt from her book, Ashley’s War, writer Gayle Tzemach Lemmon shares the background that led to this game-changing decision.

From the start of the war, U.S. Special Operations Commander Eric Olson believed that America was never going to kill its way to victory in Afghanistan. “We have to learn to think our way through this fight,” he would say. To do that, “we have to understand it better.” For some time, Olson had been thinking about “the whole yin and yang of modern warfare capabilities.” As he saw it, “concepts that may at first appear to be opposed to each other may in fact be parts of the same whole,” and he had come to believe that the United States was out of balance, too tilted…

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Random Act of Kindness India


Even though I am not very active on Facebook, I have to share this. I think I am doing some random act of kindness by sharing this 😉

I think one act of kindness lead to another. That is what happened after I posted yesterday’s post.


This is the link I found and I want to share this. Hoping that the FB fans will like this!

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Education – A New Perspective

Worth a watch !!

Happy Realizations

I recently watched an extremely beautiful and thought provoking documentary, ‘Schooling the World’. This deeply moving film discusses at length the role played by modern education in the destruction of many of the world’s indigenous cultures. It highlights the sorry state of affairs in countries such as ours and the role education might have played in bringing us to this state. The film boldly questions the belief that western education is the only way to uplift our society and free ourselves from the clutches of the apparent poverty we live in; when, in reality, it doesn’t even seem to be working for them.

” ..institutionalised education of the kind that doesn’t teach you anything about your local ecology, your local culture, your local economy or your ability to be productive.”

The film focuses on how this extremely sought after modern western schooling has been systematically killing cultures across the world…

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