10 Common Questions Asked by Aspiring Merchant Navy Professionals

Choosing a career is certainly a difficult task. When doing so, one has to go through a lot of research, consult people and offices involved in the profession, understand the nature of work, and ultimately look for every single scrap of information available.

If the chosen career is Merchant Navy, this task is even more difficult because such information may not come in handy. The mind of an aspiring mariner is often filled with uncertainties, doubts, fallacies and certain myths that prevail in and around the merchant navy profession. In order to make a positive decision to choose Merchant navy as a career, it is absolutely necessary to replace these doubts and fallacies with actual facts.

Please Read This >> 12 Myths People Have About Merchant Navy 

The following are 10 of the most common questions asked by fresher aspirants wanting to join the Merchant shipping.

merchant navy
Credits: depositphotos.com


 1. I have tattoo/ piercing, can I join merchant navy?

Of course you can. Merchant navy has no restrictions on tattoos and piercings. In fact sailors are the pioneers of nautical tattoo culture.

However, since the maritime academies implement high disciplinary standards and expect officer like qualities, they will be less than friendly to funky piercings and offensive tattoos.

Visible tattoos depicting offensive messages and symbols might also create troubles while traveling abroad as several countries do not encourage them.

It’s always preferred if the tattoos are not easily visible.

2. I have colour blindness, can I join merchant navy?

No, you cannot join merchant navy as an officer with colour blindness. The ability to distinguish colours is so important that both deck and engine department courses require candidates with no colour blindness.

Related reading:

Physical fitness and medical requirements to join merchant navy

How is Ishihara color blindess test?

3. How Difficult is the Pre sea Training and Exams?  (India)

Regardless of the stream chosen, pre-sea trainings and exams associated with it are no piece of cake. As it is for every other profession, good dedication and commitment is required. Upon successful completion of cadetship (including onboard training), individuals are required to pass the Certificate of Competency (COC) exams conducted by Mercantile Marine Department (MMD). This requires thorough preparations and outstanding knowledge levels in theoretical and practical sides.

Related Reading:

4 Ways to Become a Deck Officer

How to Become Marine Engineer?

4. How is the College life during pre-sea training?

College life in Maritime academies is definitely enjoyable. But if you are looking for the fun of roaming around in the cities, and late night parties then you might be disappointed. Pre-sea programs are fully residential courses with very professional training. The maritime academies implement and practice semi-military (or full) discipline and activities such as physical training, parade march, swimming, sports, boat rowing, etc. The fun and life will be limited to the college campus. It is possible to go out from college campus during certain specified days and time, however it cannot be certain and depends on the college. The degree of the discipline, rules and regulations vary according to academies.

Related Reading: 5 Things to Keep in Mind Before Joining Merchant Navy

Deck officer

5. Do I join as Officer after college?

No you don’t.  After academic pre – sea training, deck graduates join as Deck Cadets or Trainee Navigating Officers and Engine graduates join as Engine Cadets or Trainee Marine Engineer. Once they complete the required sea-time as a cadet they will be eligible to appear for the COC examinations conducted by MMD (in India). Upon completing the examination and receiving the Certificate of Competency, an individual is eligible to join as Deck/Engine officer onboard the ship.

6. How Hard is it to Get a job?

In the last few years shipping industry witnessed an economic gloom which resulted in the lack of demand of maritime professionals especially new-joiners. Even though Industry experts claim that this scenario will change in not more than 5 years of time, presently the lack of job opportunities for cadets is an irrefutable fact. Big shipping companies still hire cadets and sponsor their sea-time upon valid agreements. Many companies also offer completely sponsored in-house trainings. Maritime academies offer placement platforms where companies will come and select cadets.

Related Reading:

7 Reasons Deck Officers and Marine Engineers are not getting jobs

 7. How fast will be my career growth?

Career growth largely depends upon an individual’s performance and hard work. Sometimes it also depends upon the company, as some companies encourage early promotions and some others give it sometime. Let’s say for a highly motivated individual with fair environment, it takes at least 8-10 years for a career growth from Deck/Engine Cadet to Master/Chief Engineer. New joiners should  be aware of the fact that different promotion levels requires appropriate shore based training and examinations to obtain Certificate of Competency(COC) for the required higher rank. Additionally, a routine up gradation of certain other advanced courses are also necessary.

Related Reading:

A Guide to Merchant Navy Ranks

8. What is the kind of work we do onboard the ship?

As for trainee officers/engineers (cadets) the primary responsibility is to assist respective officers and to learn the job. There will be a ‘designated training officer’ (DTO) onboard who is responsible for cadets training. As the least experienced individuals, cadets should be ready to do any work assigned to him by the DTO.

Deck cadets can expect bridge watches, cargo watches, deck jobs, mooring operations etc.

Engine cadets will be involved in E/R watches, routine maintenance of machineries along with senior engineers.

INA Successful deck officer


9. Can I Go out and Roam around in Ports?

Yes, you can. Seafarers will be issued ‘shore pass’ at ports, with which they can go ashore and roam around.

However, It should be clear that there is no such thing like an allotted’ free-time’ for the ship’s crew to go ashore and enjoy. Shore leaves must not be mistaken for a small vacation after a long sailing. Every individual have work and duties even in ports and they will have to make use of their rest hours after work to get a glimpse of the shore. When vessels tend to have longer port stays, it will be more convenient to find enough time to spend ashore without sacrificing rest hours.

Related Reading

Everything You Wanted To Know About Shore Leave

12 Famous Myths About Merchant Navy

merchant navy
Representation Image – Photograph by Jose Jacob


10. What kind of entertainment is available onboard the ships?

It is a common belief that seafarers have limited access to the world and lead boring lives onboard. Although facilities can vary from ship to ship, most of the cargo ships have facilities like home theatre with a DVD library, a gymnasium, books and magazine library, swimming pool, video games, indoor games like table tennis, football.

Barbecue parties are another common recreation onboard.

Nowadays, most of the companies provide Internet access onboard helping better communication and active social media participation for sailors. However, their access is very restricted.

These are some of the main questions asked by young, aspiring maritime professionals.

Note – Pre-sea training, exams and career growths are explained as applicable to India.

Maritime training and examinations might be different in other countries.

Do you have more questions? Let us know in comments and we will try our best to give you the answers.

Note: Please do note that the above mentioned rules are pertaining to rules and regulations for Merchant Navy Professionals from India. Kindly refer your country’s official website for questions specific to particular nation.

Do you have info to share with us ? Suggest a correction

About Author

Raunek Kantharia is a marine engineer turned maritime writer and entrepreneur. After a brief stint at the sea, he founded Marine Insight in 2010. Apart from managing Marine Insight, he also writes for a number of maritime magazines and websites.

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  1. @Manish – Yes. Provided you have 36 months sea time and 12th passed with 60% in PCM. You will have to do the required courses of 2nd mates function and other advanced courses to be eligible for 2MFG Exams. You will get all required information from Mercantile Marine Department offices (MMD).

  2. hi

    sorry to ask this question here but i could nt find any where to ask it. i am going to join samundra institute of maritime studies and wanted to know about how good this collage is and how about my sponsor company executive ship management……….

  3. How observe my supervise industral work experience scheme siwes as a university student on board the ship?

  4. This site is very helpfull to us.I am in 3rd yr B.Tech. and reffering this site as guidline.

  5. hi
    can a mechanical engineer with three years shipbuilding expeiance go as a merchant navy

  6. I must say, some of this information is very misleading. The eyesight requirements in the UK for the deck department is to have 6/6 vision only in ONE eye which can be met using visual aids. If you have glasses, your unaided vision should be 6/60 in both eyes minimum, and 6/6 in one eye aided, and 6/12 in the other eye aided. Please make this information clear, so as not to disappoint potential deck candidates.

  7. @Oliver :

    Thank you for the information.
    However, please note that nowhere in the above article we state that candidates cannot join deck stream without having 6/6 vision. The only factor we have mentioned is that, colour blind candidates will be disqualified from the same. I am quite sure that even in UK for deck department, colour blindness is a disqualification. I hope this is a clear and not misleading.

  8. You CAN join the merchant navy with a colour deficiency as an Engineer. I was accepted as a cadet through Maersk with colour blindness. The only difference is we have a restricted medical with the qualifier that we are not to work unsupervised on colour coded pipework and cabling, and all work done must be checked and verified. Colour blindness has never caused me a problem during my sea time as a Cadet, and all Chief and Second engineers accepted the restriction without a problem.

  9. hi.could u plz tell me how to get a sponsor from any company for GME course.and the procedure that they would select a student for their sponsorship…
    and does every college provide placement….

  10. I should confess..dis sight is really helping….am a nigeria,I attend merchant navy maritime academy and I feel like going over seas to study,as a ship manager or deck officer…pls help me..hw can I process it..pls reply

  11. Sir,i have a querry that i have got stammrring(little), and i extramly want to join navy after completing my b.e in mech. Engg. What should i do sir… plz reply….

  12. Sir, I’m a marine engineering student. I would like to know about job opportunities in oil and gas rigs for marine engineers. Can you please write something about that..?
    Thank you.

  13. Whoever has created this post, has done an amazing and helpful task to allow newbees to have a better understanding of the profession. The article is perfectly to the point. Cheers!

  14. Hey..i have completed my gp rating n nw i am preparing to go onboard ship….but can i apply fr second mates officer exam becoz i had completed my 12 before entering into this field bt unfortunately i had got 54% in pcm Plzz help me

  15. how can i get indian c.d.c as e.t.o

    now i am having 12 months of experience nd is their any possible to get higher rank as 3or 4 th engineer

  16. I have joined a Company as an TNO.

    May i know how these IMUCET Rank will help full to get admission as i already selected, what will be the next process by IMU.

    I also wants to know that what is the Exact time of completion this course & how much time taken by DG Shipping to get the CDC.. The company in which i m selected they told me that you have to wait for 100 to 120 days to get the Indian CDC..

  17. Anybody pls tell me which mtech course is best. After completing btech marine engineering…
    I have two choices mtech ocean coastal safty engineering or mtech marine engineering and management
    Which mtech course will have more job opportunity in india

  18. Which way is the best in gme means either in deck side or engine side being a mechanical engineer which type of works seen in gme

  19. Hello sir,

    I’ve one query, i’ve problem in my left eardrum so can i join merchant navy ? Or can i also join after opration ?

    Thanx in advance

  20. sir i hve suffring frm cavity nd i have not only one teeth….is i eligible fr this job

  21. Wonderful Article for the ones who are planing to join this field.
    Especially Point 4…

  22. sir maine g.p rating ka exam or medical clear kr lia hai.. or academy wale 3lakh mang rhe hai training k..agr maine training k paise bhr diye to kya muje job milegi ..engine crew ki ..ya muje training k baad v koi exam dena hoga..please help me sir

  23. Respected sir,
    My eyesight is -3.2 & -3.0,i like to join merchant navy in engine side.
    can i make it correct through lasik surgery.
    please reply.

  24. Hi mam ,i am vikas chauhan from india .i am a deck cadet i have a indian cdc and i am looking for a job as a deck cadet if is there any opportunity for me ,please inform me ,my email id -vkchauhan309@gmail.com

  25. Controla Genaral Oyugbo Friday

    October 27 at 8:14pm ·


  26. Respected sir ,
    Can i join merchent navy if i score 50 percent in 10+2 .if yes then please tell me how to do and which corse i should do ( bsc nauticl science or dns)
    I hope u reply as soon as posible

  27. hello sir,my question is,why the person cant join engine department or ccmc department who is suffering from colour blindness,this deases only cause problems in deck deparment becoz of distinguesd of lights,but why we cant join engine department,there is no light signal is in engine room.thank you sir,I waiting for your answer…

  28. Even in engine room, their are colour codings for various lines, machinery and fluid identifications. However, a person with color blindness can apply for engine room job and the acceptance will depend on the severity of the problem. As per ILO medical standards for the seafarers, the engine room crew medical requirement will be assessed on CV1, CV 2 and CV3 colour vision standard. For any further query, please pst your question in our forums-https://forums.marineinsight.com

  29. So very interesting information contained in the article, and of course it is general. Couple of points though, there most definitely is a restriction on piercings, watches, rings and bracelets. Regardless of any religious aspect they are banned at all times on many ships, and completely banned offshore! Engineers have never been allowed rings in the engine room, but more and more all metal objects are prohibited. This is a hand injury issue. Not new as I went to sea in 1970, and engineers had to remove rings and bracelets then. Metal watch straps arcLso now be g restricted.
    I have never been on a merchant ship that has Internet available to the crew! Offshore very restricted!
    A great career for anyone Venturing out in to it!, and I sincerely wish all the best of luck!

  30. hi sir I have a Number specs its little Number in my eye can I join merchant navy now i m in Electrical engineering

  31. I am up for sponsored seat for ETO from anglo eastern maritime academy starting on june 2016.
    After 4 month course they provide 8 months paid on board training.
    I wanted to enquire that what do we have to do after those 8 months training? do we have to go out and search for other job or can we continue with them ?
    Is job availability good for eto’s?

  32. i m viral rathod B.E mechanical with first class
    i want to join merchant navy i can do any thing for this job. But i m handicap in left lag can i join
    After operation of my lag.

  33. i am doing my 8th sem ,i will get finished at may 2016 with first class . My ambition is to become a marine officer . but i do not know how to enter in this field as by finishing mechanical engineering holder.

  34. Hello sir
    Am gp rating and having 39 month sea experience on fg vessels and am only 10th pass so can i give 2nd mate exams in india or any other country pls help me sir

  35. sir
    should we fullfil the physical criteria before joining the course or before applying for job

  36. Is 6/6 vision a must for engine cadets ? I m having 6/9 using spectacles on both eyes .. And I am willing to undergo laser surgery …but doctor is saying 6/6 vision after surgery is doubtful… Can I still join as an engine cadet ?

  37. Does Maersk Line accept HIV positive seafarers who are under medication and without any opportunistic infections?

  38. sir my name is Kawaljit singh. i am 19 yrs. old. i am 10th pass with 70% marks. i want to join merchant navy, please help me to join merchant navy,

  39. Can deck cadets use spectacles with less power ? As per it is said that a few companies approves but they have to carry spare specs with them is it true ? I mean during selection is it mandatory to have perfect eyes without specs usage ??? ASAP I do need immediate assistance sir !!

  40. sir I have not completed 12 th .I have completed poly and now I am Persuing last semester of engineering in mechanical so now what should I do to join in merchant navy.please give me guide .

  41. can I use spectacles onboard ship as a trainee deck cadet? I have power of -1.5 in both eyes.

  42. Hi.. myself cyril varghese. An indian deck cadet. Had finished my seatime and now i have to collect SSTP from the academy. Unfortunately now that academy is no more running. So can anyone help me out to find any other way to collect SSTP.
    NOTE: i hav already visited university so far. But they r saying thst, the sstp can be provide by academy only.
    Please advice some ways.
    Cyril varghess

  43. Hello sir,
    I’m a trainee marine engineer in mini bulk carrier vessel. For meo class 4 exam requirement is 750kw power main engine.but in my vessel has two main engines each has 597kw power that means 2×597kw. So while applying for meo class 4 exam will i face any problem? Please tell me your advice. Thankyou

  44. @Peter:

    The requirement is for 750KW of propulsion power plant. If your 2 engines are always running simultaneously for propulsion, it should be considered as 1194kw.

  45. Hi Anish,iam studying ETO course…I have acne scars(black spots scars) in back and in chest……i have consulted dg shipping doctor….. about this issue…..he said that is not a problem……..and I’m medically fit he said ……….does it will create a problem while sailing.

  46. @Saurabh: Yes, as all companies take a medical examination before joining the ship and if the eyesight Criteria is not met, you may be told to undergo Lasik surgery.

  47. Hello sir,
    I’m a junior engineer, in my ship we have no purifier so i can not write about purifier in my onboard tar book. Will i face Any problem in MEO CLASS 4 exam?

  48. Sir : How much days we get to rome in city when we reach the port whlie unloading work is going

  49. @Ankur: You need to ask this to your chief officer or captain as it will depend on the cargo that needs to be discharge+loaded in that port.
    It is indeed a beautiful city :).

  50. sir i am 23 years old and my qualification is 12th PCM . i want to make my career in merchant navy . Give me some suggestions?


  52. @Ahamad Faraz: Please Make sure you have completed the treatment and have the certificate to show the same. You will be disqualified if a slight chance of reoccurrence is detected.

  53. From where i should get the certificate
    i have completed the 9 months treatment +3 months extra
    i also want to know about age limit to join as ETO


  55. i am under graduate mechanical engg. with a 58.3% in PCM in my 12th standard from CBSE. how can i go for marine engg. after my graduation(which ll be completed next year)? anyone?

  56. Sir, After pass out from 12th class from Cbse board with good marks can I eligible to go for merchant navy?

  57. Hii sir , I am a btech mechanical engineering graduate. I am looking forward for a career in marine industry but unfortunately I have an eye sight issue because the power on my eyes are -3.5. Is there any way I can make it to engine Dept after doing some

  58. If a deck officer face a eye problem (colour blindness, vision problem)
    Then he can sailing??

  59. This is a bit tricky question. There are norms under which ship’s crew can still sail depending upn the severity of the vision problem. Please check with an approved DG shipping doctor for the same.

  60. Sir. I have fungal infection in my feet. Do I have a chance to become a marine engineer? please I need answers

  61. @McJonver: If the Fungal infection is temporary and treatable, yes you are eligible.

  62. Sir i am new in this line, i am Bcom (commerce) student, so i have so much interested to join in this job, but i don’t know anything about your all posts.,, and i don’t do any course for merchant navy,, so sir please kindly tell me which post is suitable for me and how i apply ??…..

  63. Sir I have an Eczema mark in my left foot after successful treatment of stopping it can i clear the medical Test for merchant Navy

  64. Sir I have done my 12th with PCB. I’m iterested in navy so Can I join merchant navy?
    If I can then advice me some tips so that I can join it. Thank you

  65. @Areeb: A Mark is ok. Please do carry a medical clearance certificate from your doctor.

  66. sir i am join merchant navy but i have a problem in my body i am the patient of namoniya but now i am fine so plzz give me suggestions of this matter can i join merchant navy

  67. Sir, i have left leg surgery before 2years and 7months. So i am eligible! Plzzz reply me fast

  68. It will depend on the extent and how it is affecting your normal working life.

  69. @Gaurav: If the ailment is treated and you are fit, it will not affect the medical exam.

  70. @Bikramdeet: It will depend on the nature of your surgery. If you are able to perform your task without any issues, you should not have any problem. Better take an honest opinion from a DG shipping approved doctor.

  71. Hlo sir my name is Victor Raj and my question is that I have a tattoo on my lower right hand and my eye vision is -0.25 am I eligible for merchant navy

  72. Sir I had a latent tuberculosis infection earlier which has been cured. Can I join merchant Navy now?? I had some spots on my chest x-ray which are not going to disappear now.

  73. how can i joined indian navy or merchant navy after B Tech in mechanical in less fees.

  74. @Amulya: If it has been cured, you can apply for the merchant navy course. I will advice you to consult a DG shipping approved doctor for clearing your doubts.

  75. Greetings sir,
    Do I need a laptop for marine engineering or not?
    If yes, then could you please list the required specs.


  76. Greeting sir,
    i have more then 36 moth exp.as oil in fg vessel, i want to know procedure for class 4(fg) exame for indian coc. i have completed 10+2 with pcm but only with 54% can i give exame and do i have to give ncv first


  77. Sir i got 60% above marks in physics chemistry and english but 50% mark in maths in 12th standard can i join merchant navy for diploma in nautical science

  78. Anish sir,
    If my middle finger cut below nail of right hands .Can I join the merchant navy in engine decket.
    Kindly Leave comment.

  79. @Suchil : If are able to perform your daily tasks. It should be ok. During the medical examination, it will be analyzed that all fitness requirements are met with the current condition.

  80. My husband is a marine engineer in merchand navy..nw he has cleared 2nd engineer exam..he applied for coc..but he didnt get his cirtificate yet..cirtificate doesnt dispatch yet..but his cirtificate have already printed..he got his cirtificate number..My question is.. Is this possible ll he join in the ship by showing his cirtificate number..nd all of these things as a proof???????his joining date is 27 -9-18….sir plzzzzzzz reply.. Its urjent…

  81. @Godly: Usually in training institutes, you are either allowed to keep a trim beard or clean shave (depending upon the MTI’s policies). The crew is allowed to keep beard onboard ships.

  82. Sir my question is I dropped 2 years already can in give imu cet it will be a problem there in placement time

  83. @Ravi: If you comply with the age limit, qualification, and medical requirements, you are eligible.

  84. Sir can you provide me detailed syllabus of merchant navy entrance exam ..as i was appered was merchant navy for first time …..so that i can clear the exam and choose further gp rating course in various institutions

  85. I need to ask one question that if someone is sailing in NCV vessel as a TME then what are the procedure to change to is to FG vessel after class 4 exam and is there any problem to change from 4 STROKE ENGINE to 2stroke engine

  86. Information provided in this article is very helpful for those who want to join Merchant Navy. I too wanted to pursue a career in Merchant Navy but due to health issues I couldn’t.

  87. Hello guys,
    Can we expedite the process of getting Indian CDC. Is it possible to get it in 20 days? My joining date is reaching near and training in nstitute is promising to CDC in 45 working days. Please help me with your replies

  88. @Remsi: If you have all the required basic course certificates, you should get it in less than a months time.

  89. I got placed in college by one of the shipping consultancy,how can I know it is genuine or not??
    They demand 6lac on date of joining?is it a fact or not?

  90. @Savad: Why to go to a college via a third party (who will get their service charge)? you can directly go to a good college which provide sponsorship to the students.

  91. @Shahid: Please contact your company and Maritime Union you are a member of. If the accident happened on the ship, it will be the company’s insurance which will look into it.

  92. Mr.Anish
    I have lost all my GPRating certificate …and I don’t have copy of them..and my institute had been closed…what should I do….but I have only CDC and Indos no…what should I do..pls rply on my I’d… monu.gaawer@gmail.com..

  93. After completing my 18 months of seatime in a offshore vessels can I apply for coc for fg vessel please let me know.

  94. @K Monu: Please lodge an FIR for that so that you have on paper that you have lost the certificates.

  95. Sir, which course should i choose after my +2 in marine..marine engineering or nayticla science

  96. Can I join it after graduation and if possible then what are chances of it ….
    And I got 95 % in 12th ….

  97. @Ankit Patel: If you are a mechanical engineering graduate, you can join the GME course, else you need to apply on the basis of 12th PCM marks.

  98. Dear sir, i am 17 years old and my eyes are weak both have power of (- 2.5 d) but i want to pursue my carrier as a deck officer so which course should i do as lasik surgery is not possible before 21

  99. Sir i m suffering from knock knees……if i will crack imu cet cet then i am able to got admission in imu ?????

  100. @Nitish: Unfortunately, knock knees are considered to be a medical issue hence you won’t be eligible in the medicals. For better clarification, please contact your nearest DG shipping approved doctor.

  101. Sir I passed my +2 in this year byy getting 88% marks sir can i join the merchant navy nd sir wich kind of post i get

  102. Sir,
    Is it possible to take my personal car or bike on the ship during on board

  103. Hi all can any brife me about my issue.
    I am From minority cumunity and I want to do GP rating course for merchant navy and I have dout regarding Beard did I need to clean shave in my training but I country gives religious freedom…
    So please give me Genuine answers.
    Thanks for all and I hope from all.

  104. Sir if i undergo with a tendon fracture surgery in my right hand. Should i eligible for merchant navy medical requirements

  105. @Gaurav: If you do not face any issue in performing normal day to day routine and there is no recurring pain, you should be fine.

  106. I’m a rating background 2nd mate FG INDIAN COC holder. it’s been 1.5yrs I’m not getting a chance as an officer. What should I do????

  107. @Nishikant: Sorry to hear about the situation. The job market is not doing well, hence you are facing the problems.

  108. @Nandini: Yes mobile phones are allowed. Clicking photo will depend on the type of ship and cargo it is carrying.

  109. Sir now I’m 18 , n suddenly i have a operation of intestines, n i want to join Marchant navy, is there any chance to apply this job

  110. How can I ask for sponsorship to shipping companies for dns course?
    I mean what’s the procedure?

  111. Hii
    After completing DNS WHICH post will we get and what will be the salary of t
    hat post?
    Being i am a girl.

  112. I met with accident three years ago in which my clavicle bone fractured. Now i recovered it. Can i join merchant navy? Please help.

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