Having the right grades and the passion to have a life at the sea will not get you a career in the merchant navy. In order to join a merchant navy course, you must have the physical fitness and medical requirements that are necessary to have a career on ships.
The candidate must be in good mental and physical health and free from any kind of bodily defect to interfere with the efficient performance required at the sea. Read on to find out if you are physically fit to join the merchant navy.
There should be no evidence of weak constitution by way of imperfect development of muscles or serious malformation. Weight below 42 kg and height below 150 cm will be rejected. The chest should be well developed with a minimum range of expansion of 5 cm.
For female applicants, the height and weight may be reduced by 5 cm (2”) and 3 kg respectively. Weight to be proportionate to height and age.
2. Skeletal System
There should be no disease or impairment of functions of bones or joints, contracture or of deformity of chest or any joint, abnormal curvature of spine, deformity of feet like bow legs, knock knees, flat feet, deformity of upper limbs, malformation of the head, deformity from fractures or depression of the skull, deformity or uneven bending of the spinal column, fractures (healed) with a pin inside will be a disqualification.
3. Ear, nose and throat
There should be no impaired hearing, discharge or disease in either ear, unhealed perforation of the tympanic membrane or signs of acute or chronic suppurative otitis media or evidence of radical mastoid operation, evidence of disease of the bones and cartilage of the nose, nasal polypus or disease of nasopharynx or accessory sinuses. Loss or decay of teeth to such an extent as to interfere with efficient mastication. No disease of the throat, palate, tonsils or gums or any disease or injury affecting the normal function of either temporomandibular joint. Individuals with severe pyorrhoea are to be rejected.
The unaided average threshold at least 30db in the better ear and an average of 40db in the other within the frequencies 500, 1000, 2000 and 3000 Hz and a whisper from a distance of not less than 5 meters can be heard.
There should be no impediment of speech (e.g. stammering)
5. Lymphatic System
There should be no enlarged glands, tubercular or due to other diseases in the neck or other parts of the body. Thyroid gland should be normal.
6. Cardiovascular System
There should be no sign of functional or valvular or other diseases of the heart and blood vessels. An electrocardiogram should be within normal limits. Systolic blood pressure should not exceed 150mm of Hg nor Diastolic above 90 mm of Hg.
7. Respiratory System
There should be no evidence of chronic or respiratory tract disease, pulmonary tuberculosis or previous history of this disease or any chronic disease of the lungs. X-ray of the chest should be normal.
The resting respiratory rate should be below 20 per minute and the holding time should not be less than 30 seconds.
8. Digestive System
There should be no evidence of any disease of the digestive system and that liver and spleen should not be palpable and there should be no abdominal tenderness on palpation.
9. Genitourinary System
There should be no palpable and enlarged kidneys. There should not be any disease of kidneys. Cases showing albuminuria, glycosuria or blood (RBC) in urine will be rejected. There should be no hernia or tendency thereto. Those who have been operated for a hernia may be declared fit provided:
(a) One year has elapsed after the operation. Documentary proof to be produced by the candidate.
(b) General tone of abdominal muscles should be good and
(c) There has been no recurrence of a hernia or complications with the operation. There should be no hydrocele, varicocele, spermatocele or any other defect of genital organs, no fistula and/or anal fissure or evidence of haemorrhoids (Piles), rectal polyps. There should be no active latent or congenital venereal diseases, undescended intraabdominal testicle on one side unassociated with a hernia, provided the other testicle is normal and that there is no physical or psychological effect due to undescended testicle will be accepted. An undescended testicle is retained in the inguinal canal or at the extra abdominal ring will be rejected.
There should be no skin disease unless temporary or trivial. Scars which by their extent or position are likely to cause disability or marked disfigurement are a cause for rejection.
11. Nervous System
There should be no history or evidence of mental disease of the candidate or in his family. Candidates having a history of fits incontinence or urine or enuresis will not be accepted. Mental or nervous irritability, abnormality of gait, defective functions of cranial nerves, incoordination, motor or sensory defaults will be rejected.
12. Eye Sight
There should not be any degree of squint or any morbid condition of eyes or of the eyelids that is liable to aggravate or recur, the pressure of trachoma and iris complication sequela. Candidates must possess good binocular vision (fusion faculty and a full field of vision in both eyes). Movement of the eyeballs must be full in all directions and the pupils should react normally to light and accommodation.
Below mentioned vision standards must be met by the applicant:
Deck Department: Vision should be 6/6 in better eye and 6/9 in the other eye;
Engine and Electrical Department: Vision should be 6/12 in each eye or 6/9 in better eye and 6/18 in the other eye;
The vision should be 6/6 (normal) in each eye separately. Defective colour vision tested by Ishihara Colour Blindness Test is a disqualification.
13. Any other defect which in the opinion of the medical board will interfere with the individual’s efficiency as an officer of the merchant navy.
14. Oral Health
The acceptance or rejection on account of loss or decay of teeth depends upon the relative position of the sound teeth; a sufficient number of teeth must be present for efficient mastication.
15. Musculoskeletal System
There should be no defect of the musculoskeletal system that could interfere with the discharge of their duties (muscular power, balance, mobility, and coordination should be unimpaired). Limb prosthesis would not be acceptable.
Mandatory Clinical Test:
Other than physical observation, various numbers of Clinical Tests are carried out to make sure that all the Standards are met.
- Complete Blood Count (Hb, TWBC, ESR);
- Routine Urine(Albumin, sugar and microscopic);
- Blood Sugar;
- Vision Test (Distant, Near, Colour);
- X-ray of Chest; and
- Electrocardiogram (ECG).
Additional Medical Examination for Seafarers onboard Tankers: Seafarers on board a Tanker engaged in the carriage of carcinogenic cargoes namely Benzene, Butane, Diesel oil for marine engines shall undergo a medical examination that may include blood and liver function tests including blood count evaluation.
Medical Condition considered before issuing Medical Certificate
The Following medical condition generally renders a person unfit for work at sea:
- Infectious and Parasitic Diseases- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), Enteritis, Hepatitis (active or chronic, within 6 months), Typhoid, Malaria Lice, Scabies, Sexually Transmitted Disease or any other infectious or parasitic disease in its communicable or carrier state which would present a health hazard to other crew members or passengers.
- Malignant Neoplasms- Any malignancy currently receiving treatment.
- Endocrine, Nutritional and Metabolic conditions and Immunity Disorders- Diabetes Mellitus, Adrenal insufficiency, Immunosuppressive therapy, Obesity or any disease of the endocrinal gland.
- Disease of the Blood and Blood-forming organs- Anemia, Myelodysplasia, Splenomegaly or any significant disease of the haemopoietic system.
- Mental Disorders- Active Alcohol (substance abuse or dependence), acute psychosis, psychoneurosis major depression, Dementia or Personality disorder.
- Nervous System- Ataxia, Vertigo, Convulsive disorder, Epilepsy, Unsteadiness of gait, Post concussion syndrome, Stroke, Tremors, Migraine, Syncope, Epistaxis or Sinusitis.
- Oral Health- Mouth or gum Infection (until treated) or any Dental defects.
- Cardiovascular system- an aortic aneurysm, Arrhythmia, Hypertension, Coronary bypass grafting, Coronary angioplasty, Claudication, Myocardial infarction, Varicose veins, Chronic varicose ulcerations, thrombophlebitis, Haemorrhoids, Varicocele or any cases of High/Low blood pressure.
- Respiratory system- Bronchial Asthma, Chronic bronchitis, Pneumothorax (within 12 months), Tumour or Pulmonary Koch’s with less than 12 months treatment.
- Digestive system- Abdominal lump, Abscess, Appendicitis, Cholelithiasis, Diarrhoea, Gastric Ulceration, Haematemesis (within 3 months), Hepatitis (within 6 months), Jaundice, Pancreatitis, Peptic Ulcer, Cirrhosis of the Liver, Splenomegaly, Hepatomegaly or Fissure(Unless Operated).
- Genitourinary system- All cases of proteinuria, Glycosuria, Nephritis, Urinary obstructions (if not remediable), Renal or ureteric calculus, Removal of the kidney, Renal transplant, Renal insufficiency, Incontinence of urine, Prostatism ith retention, Urethral discharge or any Gynaecological conditions.
- Skin Condition- Al infection of the skin (until satisfactorily treated), Acute Eczema, Dermatoses (severe or uncontrolled), Manifestations of the systemic disease (eg. Lupus, allergy), Carcinoma or any Burn hindering the natural movement.
Note: The Above Information is provided by the Directorate General of Shipping, Merchant Shipping Act 1958.
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. He is the one behind the unique creativity and aesthetics at Marine Insight.