10 Electrical Jobs Marine Engineers Must Know On Board Ships

Nowadays, many reputed shipping companies do not provide electrical officers on board ships. Companies now rely on marine engineers to tackle electrical jobs and problems related to them.

Few important reasons for this trend are the ongoing cost-cutting process and also the minimum manning does not specifically include a requirement of an electrical officer.

Moreover, electrical is one of the major subjects in the syllabus of marine engineering (It mainly includes advance, operational and fault finding topics).

Download eBook: Maintenance and troubleshooting of Marine Electrical Systems

Marine engineers are expected to handle electrical-related issues as part of their on board duties. Though several electrical jobs are to be carried out on board ship, there are a few important ones that need special attention.

marine engineer

Following are the most common electrical problems and jobs, which marine engineers must know about:

1. Operation of various electrical instruments: Any kind of electrical operation or maintenance job is to be carried out with the assistance of several other electrical instrument and tools such as multimeter, megger, clamp meter etc. A marine engineer must know the correct operating procedures to operate all these instruments and should also know how to interpret the readings.

2. Starter panel routine: The starter panel of every electrical system comprises of contacts which need regular maintenance for burnouts, breakage, deposits accumulation etc. The maintenance of the starter panel is a part of the planned maintenance job and all safety measures must be taken before performing the same. Marine engineers must know the right procedure for starter panel maintenance.

3. Insulation resistance: All wires and cables in the electrical system are provided with an insulation sheath. This cover may get damaged after a period of operation. If the insulation resistance reading is at a lower side, it may lead to short circuit, earth fault and equipment damage. Marine engineers must know how to maintain insulation resistance of wires and cables.

4. Earth fault finding: One of the most common problems in an electrical system is the earth fault. Finding an earth fault is an exhaustive job which requires utmost patience. A Marine Engineer should know the methods and instruments to find out the earth fault. Read more about earth fault finding here. 

5. Motor overhauling: Electrical motors are present in abundance on ships. These motors drive several other machinery systems such as pumps, fans, purifiers etc. Maintenance of these motors is to be done as per the planned maintenance system and during the breakdown. The complete overhauling procedure of motors must be known by marine engineer including the safety procedures required. Learn more about motor overhauling here. 

6. Bus Bar overhauling: This task is normally performed in the dry dock. The bus bar of the ship carries and distributes the power generated by the ship’s generator. It is important to know the correct isolating and maintenance procedures for bus bar while the ship is at normal voyage or out of water in dry dock. Learn more about bus bar overhauling here. 

7. Battery Charging onboard: Batteries are used mainly for emergency power backup and for operating emergency LSA such as lifeboat. The charging and maintenance of the batteries have to be performed at regular interval of time and marine engineers bust be aware of this process. Learn more about battery charging here.

8. Adjusting the load sensor of mooring winch: The mooring winch is important machinery used for berthing a ship to the jetty. The immense load applied by the mooring ropes on the winch is handled in a safe limit by a load sensor. If the load exceeds the limits, the sensor will trip the mooring winch to safeguard the machine. A marine engineer must know the procedure to adjust the load sensor of a mooring winch. Learn how to adjust the load sensor of mooring winches here. 

9. Shore Connection or AMP: The green revolution has introduced cold ironing or alternate marine power for dry docks (previously used only in dry dock) and in ports (now used in many ports especially for cruise ships). As the shore power parameters are slightly different i.e. voltage, frequency etc. ship engineers must know how to correctly connect the shore power to ship supply by using a transformer or frequency converter. Learn all safety procedures for shore connection in our dry dock ebook. 

10. Engine Automation: Engine automation is an important aspect to be considered during maintenance in order to ensure the overall safety of the ship. Both main engine and ship’s generator are provided with several automation, alarms and trips. A marine engineer must know the ship automation system and troubleshooting related problems within a few days of joining the ship.

These are some of the important and most common electrical jobs marine engineers must know onboard ships. Do you know any other important point that must be added here? Let us know in the comments below.

Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

The article or images cannot be reproduced, copied, shared or used in any form without the permission of the author and Marine Insight. 

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About Author

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.


  1. Hi, I would like to know how power from a main engine shunt generator is transformed using a synchro compensator such that it can be connected to a 3 phase 60 Hz bus.

  2. Those days Electrical Officers, Radio Officers, and Pursers were like passengers having no full time work on-board and kindling fire within the active seafarers on-board, causing always rift between Captain and Chief Engineer and hence obviously between the blue collared E.R. staff and the navigating /deck staff. Rightly said too many cooks spoil the dish.

  3. i am an engine cadet from Nigeria and i am looking for sea time experience. Please any suggestions

  4. Hellow Mr Wankhede,

    Can you give some information regarding GME course in UK ? I am interested in doing the course from a foreign university.

  5. Mr.nizam, u didn’t mentioned yr age, try through 1) get graduate mechanical engaging, then TME.
    2) get into NCV Stream.by pre-sea training etc.but yr age must allow.
    Check the fee structure, job availability in shipping industry if allows it is yr choice.before get into it pls do a small survey of facts from reliable sources.
    Wish u all the best.

  6. Interestingly,we at our CIE/Vinayaka Missions Sikkim University has recently offered the Specialised Ship Building&Repair(6-Month) course designed mainly for the Graduate Electrical&Electronics Engineers incorporating the Electrical andCommunication portion with Internship facility.I find the tips provided avaluable information to the Engineers who start their career in the Ship Building industry.Thanks

  7. This is partially not true, I am an active electrical engineer on board, and to tell you that electrical engineer plays a vital role if your ship is very efficient and company has some class. All company can’t afford electrical officers so it also shows their own standard. Rifts in the ship created by many factors including somebody having unnecessary thriving ambitions and unhealthy mindsets. Thanks and nice article thought…

  8. I am an electrical officer onboard a ship. In our vessel an electrical officer has so many duties and responsibilities. Electrical jobs onboard a ship covers the whole part. From aft to forward and from Engine room to Bridge and also so many checklist. Even we cannot going out to the city when cargo operations done. Is an Engineer can solve deck cranes electrical problems?

  9. Exactly most of the mechanical engineers doesn’t know handling of electrical issues

  10. im from philippine ,im 40 year old now and applying electrician but in my age i have no experience in ship electrician only i have is land base experience in 20+ years.and ihave RME license-Registered Master Electrician,you can help me to apply in some companies even if only assistance electrician?

  11. Hello Anish,
    Thanks for your great writing regarding must need to know for marine engineer. To be honest marine engineer, marine electrical professionals has excellent job options nowadays.

    According to , Maine electrical professional must need to know each and every operational products and need to updated their knowledge.
    Besides; they need to registered marine electrical professional.
    I have marine installation business in New Zealand. I saw skill shortage of marine Professional , in other word, skilled and certified marine electrical professional.
    Cheers mate

  12. I wish to understand the total electrical architecture for a ship. Starting from Gen set, Main panels, Motor control centres, UPS, Power distribution equipment, Control, CCTVs cameras and Shore box etc. Is there any book dedicated to Electrical devices on ship.

  13. Thanks for sharing ! This is very informative article about the different type of electrical problem and jobs in ships. There are lot of electrical problem that can occur in ship which is mentioned in this article. Engine automation is one of the problems that can occur in the ship which needs to be corrected as soon as possible.

  14. Manish Hi ,

    Im planning to invest to start an ETO support service centre in UAE. Probably in Fujairah / Dubai / Abu Dhabi . Basically plan is to employ experienced ETO’s and take up on board electrical jobs .
    From your experience/expertise , any key inputs that you would like to share ?

    Jack ( Psuedo Name)

  15. Hi I’m subham (22) from Kolkata (India ),I have completed ETO pre sea training now I want to complete my ETO training on board.
    So I am finding ETO trainee job . So can anyone please help me, how can I get job without agent .

  16. Dr.chandran peechulli ,
    I don’t know your what kind of doctor honestly , bcz doctor has a some kind of practice become doctor and even what your using in u r medical things and it’s all Electrical and electronics .

    As the same in ship to one the major role A Electrical engineer need to play and rectify and troubleshoot .
    It can become head to Bottom of ship.
    Just once if u r look well.u need to understand.
    Some company is not kept ETO means they just near to shore and getting help from shore or A second Engineer is completely through knowledge from each side .. mechanical and electrical he can lead the role if he knows well…
    As Electrical officer is can to do some as mechanical things and become chief engineer and it’s thier personal interest.

    The one who goes and works height mast in ship that’s is ETO and the one check all over Deck is the ETO.and the one who control the automation and support all over the ETO.

    So finally
    u may seen or heard some wired people and some we too seem some kind of doctors who put plaster into hand if some other bone fracture too so we never discribed other Doctors are just money making or etc.
    There will be two side in.every where .
    I hope u all undersad.

    Thanks you.

    It’s just for shared due to misunderstanding of him.
    Sorry if u r felt something

  17. very appreciable, The marine electrician has so many duties to performs maintenance and, switchboards, controllers, circuit breakers, repair of generators, electrical motors, distribution panels, alarm, and lighting circuits. https://hudsonelectricalnb.com.au/electrician-north-shore/

  18. Dr.Chandran had given a very wrong picture about electrical officers of by gone days.Sure, they were tough,abusive and always moving around a pack of jokers who do not understand anything about electrical systems.Had a difficult time to make the idiots understand what is going on.It used to be a joy to sail with European officers and Engineers who well understand about the nature of job the electrical officers do and pay the due respect.Very hard time to sail with empty heads and I trust you understand what I mean,people like Dr.Chandran.I had sailed as an electrical officer for about 27 years with reputed Indian as well as Foreign companies.

  19. Hello sir.. i am electrical officer . Now a days we are having more vacancy than any other post in merchant navy as you know. Somebody commented we dont have work ,Who said you no work for us on board. If there is no work then why companies are offering us salary up to 6000usd. Think once. Any problem comes from machinery or bridge equipment and there are so many who will be called for trouble shooting….Lot off pressure on us… Day by day mechanical work
    Maintenance is reducing..same time electronic system s increasing..so think who demand is increasing….. This is my personal opinion as electrical officer.

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