Duties of a 4th Engineer on a Ship

According to policies of all shipping companies, seafarers joining any vessel have to be competent, qualified and experienced. Joining a ship as a fourth engineer is the first step towards a sailing career on ship. It is only after becoming a fourth engineer that a mariner experiences real responsibility on a ship.

Though a fourth engineer, before joining the ship has cleared the required exams and training courses, it is appreciated that the training part becomes an ongoing process and there is always a requirement for refresher courses and periodical safety training.


Duties of 4th Engineer by Default

On all types of ships, irrespective of the shipping company, a 4th engineer shall report to the 2nd Engineer, who shall assign the duties to him, both at sea and at port and whose orders he or she shall consider effective and binding as though emanating from the Chief Engineer. Moreover, the 4th engineer shall also assist the 2nd engineer when necessary in carrying out duties of the later.

Duties of 4th Engineer upon joining a Vessel

A 4th engineer, upon joining a vessel, should carry out the following duties.

  • Upon joining a vessel, the relieving 4th engineer shall report his presence on board to the Chief Engineer or in his absence to the 2nd Engineer.
  • The 4th engineer should take a thorough round of the engine department with the signing off engineer and do a proper taking over of the duties.
  • He should check the inventory and location of all purifier and compressor spares.
  • He should check Inventory and location of pumps spares and tools.
  • He should check running hours and maintenance schedule of his designated machinery.
  • He should check general condition of machinery and special procedure for operation.
  • Condition and layout of bunkering system including valve operation, tanks and sounding pipe location should be checked.
  • Condition and layout of sludge and bilge discharge system including valves and pump operation should also be checked.
  • Thorough sounding of all fuel tanks, bilge and sludge tank should be taken.
  • Daily consumption of lube oil, fuel oil, marine diesel or gas oil and cylinder oil for daily record keeping in sounding log is to be checked.
  • Daily production of bilge and sludge on board for record keeping of waste water sounding log.

After completion of the engine room round together, the 4th engineer shall report the details to the 2nd engineer and notify discrepancies observed, if any.

The 4th Engineer as in charge of Purifier, Compressor, and machinery other than main engine, auxiliary engine and boiler, is responsible for:

  • Record keeping of machinery running hours under his charge.
  • For carrying out planned maintenance routine under the supervision of chief or second engineer.
  • Taking daily tank sounding of fuel oil, diesel oil, lube and cylinder oil on board ship and record keeping of the same.
  • Record keeping of sludge and bilge on board.
  • Acting as assistant in charge to chief engineer for operation during bunker of fuel, diesel and lube oil.
  • Completing the month end official papers for his designated machinery.
  • Compliance of environment policy and MARPOL requirements under the guidance of Chief Engineer.
  • Maintenance and up keeping of the engine room log book and all those files on board advised by the Chief Engineer.

The above mentioned duties are the basic requirements for any 4th engineer going on board. However, duties might be subtracted or added on the basis of the type of the ship and shipping company.

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

Latest Marine career You Would Like:

Get the Latest Maritime News Delivered to Your Inbox!

Our free, fast, and fun newsletter on the global maritime industry, delivered everyday.


  1. nice site.keep up the gud work guys.lots of new comers are gonna benefit from tis site.just to add a bit.all those first time fourth engineers please remember that once u join the ship be a little more responsible and try to understand the operation of a machinery carefully before u operate it.its nt a crime if u dont knw anything but it will be if u mess up things unnessesarily. ask for guidance initialy frm ur seniors and operate in their presence.be a little proactive for first 2 months.try and learn to operate each and every piece of equipment,especially if u r in a tanker u must b able to start the IG plant and COP by ur own.thatway u will grow in confidence.the other most important thing is to avoid any conflict and be friends with all on board.it will help u to spend ur time happily.tnx n best of luck

  2. Great Advice Sumit…
    Please do let us know if there is anything in particular that you would want to read..?
    Looking forward to hear from you.


  3. Hey! where is that guy’s helmet? 😉

    Nice work you have done here! I am a compulsive blogger and a sailor too. Have always had my own blog where I write about dialy stuff in my life.

  4. Hi Vik

    Good to hear that. Let us know if you want to be a guest blogger on our site.


    Marine Insight

  5. yet another important duties of a 4th engineer i must say is that they should take time to teach the junior engineers well. J/E should be treated like their own brother onboard any ship by all sea farers is my opinion.because the way we teach and encourage them they will remember us for the life time since this is their first ship. eventhou i didnt got anyone good 4th engineer when i was junior i will always make sure J/E’s have a peaceful life onboard

  6. Thank you soo much for your advice Mr.Sumit banik and Mr.Raja pandian.i am now a student waiting to go onboard.I am sure your advice is going to be very usful.once again thank you.

  7. Sailors love to tell stories.Maybe if they can include experiences with specific machineries, it would be a good idea to increase the value of this site. Case studies and logical conclusions, more as events rather than specific names.Please do consider

  8. What advice do you have to give a 22 year old female who is currently sitting her final transport canada 4th class marine engineering examinations? I know there are not numerous female marine engineers out there and one might ask why I chose such a field but nontheless, given from your expertise and great advice so far, I would be delighted to hear your insight on my part please and thanks in advance!

  9. Can u pls tel what r d duties of a 5th engr on board ship…n how one shud prepare for 4th class exams..

  10. Your detail informative reports i ve read so far on this site is quite good. Please keep it up may you wax strong in strenght.
    Mean while, i will like to ask for your help, on a reseach project am currently working on.”FUEL ENERGY EFFICIENCY MANAGEMENT ONBOARD SHIP; CREW IMPACT AND COMPLIANCE”

    AIM; is to find out how crew impact reduce fuel comsumption which will definately reduce carbon and other emissions.



  11. hi,
    @satyasham..as a 5th eng u r not responsible 2 any machinery..it all depends how u gt ur 2nd eng…its a learning period.so try 2 learn as more as possible…as a 5th eng u have 2 do the job which u must havent imagined of..like cleaning the sewage plant if required…during my span as 5th engg there was a problem.so litreally i along with the motormen had 2 clean the shit.butit never always happens.also b clear about the safety procedures..coz in shipping even if u dnt know the operetion of any machine its ok.but if u dnt follow safe practiceits a crime.coz it many b hazardousr fou as well as ufellow sailors…

    @shadya….congrats mam,,,for u chossing such a diffrent pofession..


  13. Hi Rahul,

    You can give your exams from UK, INDIA, NZ or SINGAPORE.
    UK and INDIAN COC are respected all over the world.
    I believe what it matters is to pass your exams and get your COC,any approved institutes will do to complete this task.
    In India,classes for class IV exams are not compulsory.

    Best of luck


  15. Thanks for your most comprehensive and thorough procedures for new Forth Engineer. This article will be strong guide line for newbie.

    And I hope to see more articles for 3rd Engineer, 2nd Engineer, 1st Engineer and Chief Engineer as well.

  16. sir i am doing work in jag aanchal
    now i plan to do exam of 4th class engineering ….from kolkatta
    sir if i give that exam from India..so can i have chance to do work in foreign ships.”

  17. for good future prospects…its good to give exam from india….
    or from foreign is better

  18. @RAHUL SHARMA its better if you write indian exams. You will have no problems to work on indian cdc in coastal ships or indian companies or foreign companies . Indian exams are time taking but cost you very less. But uk cdc is more valuable than indian in foreign countries.

  19. respected sir ,
    i am sijo george .sir, after my 10th(s.s.l.c)i finish my pre sea training then i join in ship as a oiler . after 2 contract i took watchkeeping then i sailed more than 27 months . now i am sailing with maersk singapore .i had total more than 40 months exp ,sir i have a doubt that after finishing my this voyage can i apply for 4th engineer coc or class coc . sir can u plz advice me and also plz tel me the cost & availability etc . sir kindly give me reply . thanks ,

  20. Pls my dear senior seafarers, am a graduate from maritime academy, am hopin to go for an interview very soon as a 4th engineer, have not sail b4, no coc but have oder document, pls sir do u tink it wil be easy for me to get d job nd even if i get d job, how am i going to perform duties onboard… Pls sir i want a reply to my request pllllllllzzzzz…..thanks

  21. sir, i am manoj going to join GME at AMET UNIVERSITY , Chennai. I hav just compleated my BE/MECH(2014). I hav doubt tat ,wt are al the exam syllabus fr 4th engg. and is it true tat oral exams are tougher than written test. Is their any institute at chennai giving trainning for 4th engg. exam. And tell me wt r al d merits n demerits of joing a ship after finishing GME and BE/MARINE. eagerly waiting for ur reply sir…
    Especially this site is very much informative n feedback frm experts is the heighlight…

  22. @ Manoj:

    – Basic syllabus for class 4 exam includes: Engineering Knowledge General , Engineering Knowledge Motor, Marine Electrotechnology, Ship Safety and Environmental Protection, Marine Engineering Practice, Ship Construction and Stability.

    – They are as tough as any other competitive exams

    – You cannot compare the merits or de merits since both the candidates will be having the same degree. When you first time joins a ship, you will be in a learning process for next 6 months.

    – For any queries, you can also post your questions in our forum to get multiple and speedy replies: https://forums.marineinsight.com

  23. Sir, it is a pleasure reading from your blog. indeed all your post here is an eye opener to me. Sir, I have a vocasional certificate in marine diesel mechanics. Sir, can I apply as a fourth chief engineer and can u please help me secure one. Have never work before. Thanks, will be happy to hear from u soonest.

  24. This article has indeed open a leeway for we fresh mariners. However, thank you Sir for this sensationally remarkable article that had clearly explained the duties and responsibilities of a fourth engineer. Hence, am glad to take up maritime profession because it’s something I love doing the most. Although, am still a third year student in marine engineering, Sir I would like to ask if an CoC acquired from the Philippines as a foreigner can be recognised by a foreign shipping company. Thanks Sir.

  25. Good day!Is it possible to find a job as a 4-th engineer?I never been in this rank.All documents for 3-rd engineer are valid.10 years of experience as an oiler.I have 54 years old.

  26. I have just joined in GME. Course After my BTech in mechanical can u let me what rank I will be recruited and what I need to work out there and how will be life at sea

  27. how is anglo eastern academy for GME course and is our job conformed once if we step into anglo

  28. I did BE mechanical engineering and got CDC from Mumbai. If I like to work in ship, what would be my designation? Am totally confused someone help me

  29. Hi sir i completed my clsss 4 got coc i am trying compinies but they r not taking freshers 4th engg . Iam trying to go offshore Is it good for offshore compinies .and which compinies r good to join please tell me sir. So much of waiting even i get the coc please advice me sir

  30. Hi sir, please explaining abait handover watchkeeping for fouth engineer and may my knowlage will be added with your site.

    thanks for your knowlage

  31. Tell me about westline shipping company….is it good for me or not?….. I’m mechanical engineering graduate….

  32. Thanks for this great insight on duties of a 4th Engineer. Am a fresh graduate of Marine Engineering and have an unlimited 3rd Engineer license. I had my cadetship on a Supply/Training Vessel and after worked on a tugboat. I have never worked been given responsibility as a 4th Engineer and therefore has limited experience. I am given a job recently as a 4th Engineer on a tanker vessel and taking full responsibility of this position on such a vessel scares me a time. Please can someone talk to me because I need this job. after spending 6 years in class studying Marine Engineering and undertaking cadetship, can I work as 4th. Please I need help

  33. @Rightman: Yes, You can. It is all about practical exposure and you will be used to the pressure as you take up work for this position.

Leave a Reply

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