4 Ways To Become A Deck Officer in Merchant Navy

The Merchant Navy is a lucrative and an enjoyable line of work that demands a great deal of hard work right from the day you step into a maritime academy, whether it is nautical science or marine engineering.

As is with choosing any stream of education, selecting a career in Merchant Navy also requires a considerable amount of time devoted towards research so that a prospective individual is able to choose a course that best suits his needs. Some might aspire to become deck officers whereas others might be interested in engineering knowledge.

With a plethora of maritime institutes offering a variety of courses, it is natural for a candidate to get confused, and in the process, make a wrong decision.

There are myriad of maritime institutes all over the world and it is natural to be spoiled for choice. However, it is necessary to understand that not all of them offer the path to becoming a Deck Officer in the way that it is imagined.


The role of a Deck Officer in merchant navy is indispensable on board and it is important for a prospective Cadet to know what a deck officer does on board ships.

A Deck Officer works in the execution of a variety of tasks- namely navigation and maneuvering of the vessel, handling of all safety equipment on board, and handing cargo, communications, and safety.

All of this seemingly daunting work is designated, divided, and handled among the Trainee Cadet, 3rd Officer, 2nd Officer, Chief Officer, under the supreme supervision of the Captain of the vessel.

The prerequisites to join a maritime course pertaining to the Merchant Navy are generally kept low, except the physical fitness and medical requirements. However, it is advised that an interested individual inquire with the respective institute offering the course in order to get the exact criterion.

The following courses outlined are those that will help an individual a great deal in determining what’s best for a chosen path to becoming a Deck Officer.

1. B.S. Nautical Technology

This is a 3+1 years course that is available only in India. The degree in question here is offered by the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, and is offered in two of the institutes in India. The first 3 years of the merchant navy course is spent in the institute where a variety of subjects are taught extensively. The final year is devoted to an internship on board a vessel as a deck cadet for a minimum period of 12 months.

Deck Officer

The internship period is extremely crucial as the degree is only conferred when an individual finishes his sea time.

The 2nd Mate license is obtained after finishing the mandatory sea time, upon clearing the MMD (Mercantile Marine Department) examinations. There are a total of 48 subjects covered in the study period of 3 years, a detailed list of which can obtained from the website/brochure of the institutes concerned. Following are the institutes in India that offer this merchant navy program to become a deck officer:

Tolani Maritime Institute (TMI), Pune

RL Institute of Nautical Sciences (RLINS), Madurai

2. B.Sc. Nautical Science

This is a 3 years course that is available in India. In the UK, this is a 4 years course. However, the method incorporated in the completion of this course varies between India and the UK.

In India, a deck cadet spends his entire 3 years in a Maritime Institute and gets a degree after the course ends. Following that, he seeks employment and gets on board a ship as a Trainee Deck Officer. In the UK, work and learning are incorporated together within the course, with the core modules and work based learning divided aptly within the four years of study. There are a host of Institutes offering this merchant navy program, the notable ones being:

Academy of Maritime Education and Training (AMET), Chennai

Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), Liverpool

3. HND Nautical Science

HND stands for the Higher National Diploma. This is a 2 years course that is conducted between an Indian Institute and one in the UK in liaison with each other. The first 39-40 weeks of the course is spent studying at an Institute in India whereas the next 39-40 weeks is spent at an Institute in the UK.

Ship Deck

Deck cadets must sail for a minimum period of 15 months after the completion of the course. Thereafter  a 3 months 2nd Mate Preparatory course must be undertaken at the deck cadets’ respective Institute. Upon clearing the examination conducted by the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency), the Cadet is awarded the 2nd Mate UK license to become a certified deck officer. The notable HND courses of merchant navy are conducted by:

AMET University, Chennai in collaboration with South Tyneside College, UK

International Maritime Institute, Noida in collaboration with Glasgow College of Nautical Studies, Scotland

4. Diploma in Nautical Science

This is a 1 year course under the Indian Maritime University. Prospective deck cadets undergo a year long period of study followed by a sailing period of a minimum of 36 months. There are many merchant navy institutes offering this course. It is advisable to check the Directorate General of Shipping and the Indian Maritime University websites for institute approvals and course details.

In the United States, the Merchant Marine is a civilian auxiliary of the US Navy. The system followed in the US is a very intensive one. Candidates should refer to one of the Academy websites for a methodical procedure with regard to the US Merchant Marine.

Check the list of best maritime colleges of the United States for more information

Deck Cadet

The most important aspect of choosing the right merchant navy Institute and course to become a deck officer is to ensure that the course is approved by the respective Government Authority of the country. It is also advisable to know the nation issuing the Continuous Discharge Certificate (CDC) to prevent any confusion later on.

In addition to the above mentioned courses, several shipping companies also conduct sponsorship programs for deck officers.

Choosing the right path to becoming a Deck Officer in merchant navy can play a vital role in having a solid kick-start to the career. Apart from good memories and an unforgettable college life a proper institute, catered to your requirements, can help an individual develop the right attitude towards this line of work.

Related Articles 

5 Things to keep in mind before joining merchant navy

Deck department Vs Engine Department : What to choose?

Hierarchy Level of Deck Department on ships

What is a difference between nautical science and marine engineering?

Physical Fitness and Medical Requirements to Join Merchant Navy

Image Credits

icma, springdaleindia, seadogs-reunited, travelblog

Get Free News Updates Daily

Join 40000+ maritime professionals who receive daily newsletters, offers and more..

Digital Maritime Resources For The Smart Mariner

Take me to the eBook Store


  1. morris. much says

    this is my dream career and it must become a reality,a man’s dreams is an an index to his greatness,Failure is never an option to me,i will see myself there very soon,i love merchant navy,i love seafeerers,i love sailing and i will sail somedays.

  2. omkar shrivadtav says

    My question is after 6 month gp rating course + 36month sea service can give 2nd mate fg exam
    Or I have to pass 12th exam for 2nd mate fg course pls sir reply

  3. Vinayak says

    Sir, my question is also same as sahil more say’s. Plz kindy tell the courses one has to complete after 12th.. I’m totally confused..

  4. Manish says

    Sir,please explain the path to become officer as i have completed my GP rating and sailing as OS..Coz i want to become an officer ..I am 12th PCM passed out….

  5. paul banks says

    hi can i do the navigation officers course open learning HNC navigation is there any cost.

  6. rajat says

    Respected sir I have done gp rating course how can I give exam of mates after 36 mnths of sailing I have not completed my 12th so am I elegeable for mte xzams n what r d procedures pls help me sir
    Regards Rajat

  7. Gokul Bhatt says

    Respected sir,
    I have done diploma in nautical science and have sailed for 12 months as a cadet onboard a FG vessel and now I want to join as a Ordinary seaman.If I do so how much sea experience will be required to write exams.And will my 12 months as cadet will be counted in sea experience as rating.

  8. avishek kinnu says

    hii, sir i have done my gp rating course and i want to become officer so please tell me can i give second mate after 24 month sailing ?i have also done my 12th with pcm but my percentage is very low about 49% . so sir tell me about this can i give second mate after 24 month sailing ??

  9. mebin joseph says

    Dear Sir,
    I have being working on cruiselines for the past 10 years as a restaurant waiter.
    I have passed my 12 std from National open school.
    I want to be a 3rd officer.
    Please advice
    Kind regards

  10. kebuge Emmanuel says

    Please I need an information bottle c.o.c and the requirement please forward it to me thank you

  11. Suresh David George says

    I am an ordinary seaman, working good ownership company&have 52 months onboard experience with Indian CDC, I would like to participate 2nd mate FG Exam only in INDIA I have +2 qualification with PCM but just passed in the border, please guide me to get Indian COC

  12. Blessen T Cherian says

    Dear Sir,

    I’m an AB with 25 months of sea service. I’m planning to go for Second mates after completing 36 months of sea service. What are the documents I have to get prepared on-board, to appear for exams?
    I heard that GP rating background guys cannot give Second mate (FG) directly, is it true that we have to give NCV first? I have 2 with PCM.

  13. jason fernandes says

    Hello guys
    I m sailing as an os
    this my second contract
    I want to know how I can give exam after 36months and what documents are required
    please help me

  14. sridhar kurmana says

    good day sir my name is sridhar working in murchant navy as an engine fitter so sir plz advice how to join th e collage to clear my class 4 and sir plz can u give me ur contact number to contact u . thanking u sir from sridhar

  15. Godwin says

    Hi sir am Godwin, pls I want to know the qualifications to become a deck officer. Thanks you. Godwin

  16. Bhupendra singh says

    sir i have done the gp ratings course of 6 month I want to known about how to become the 4th engineer first

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Marine Insight Forums | Join the Community

Ask your queries and get answered by experts. Share your knowledge and experience with other maritime professionals. Grow your network!!