Merchant Navy- a prestigious and adventurous career option

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | May 29, 2024 IST

Sourav Prakash Das

Bhubaneswar, May 29: From its early days of ancient maritime trade to its modern-day significance, the Merchant Navy continues to be a prestigious and adventurous career option. 

Origins of Merchant Navy:

Maritime trade has been a cornerstone of human civilization for millennia. Early seafarers from civilizations such as the Phoenicians, Greeks, Egyptians, and Romans established sea routes to trade essential goods like spices, silk, and precious metals. The term "Merchant Navy" emerged during the 17th century, particularly in Britain, as the nation sought to formalize its commercial shipping fleet to expand and protect its trade empire.

Throughout history, the Merchant Navy has been vital in facilitating international trade, exploration, and cultural exchanges. Advancements in shipbuilding, navigation techniques, and maritime laws have helped the Merchant Navy evolve into a highly specialized and critical industry today.

Qualifications and training for Merchant Navy:

Joining the Merchant Navy requires specific educational qualifications and training programs tailored to various career paths within the sector:

Educational qualifications:

  • Deck Officers: High school diploma (10+2) with strong grades in Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics (PCM)
  • Engineering Officers: High school diploma (10+2) with PCM, followed by a degree in Marine Engineering
  • Electro-Technical Officers (ETOs): Degree in Electrical or Electronics Engineering

Training programs:

  • B.Sc. in Nautical Science: A three-year program for aspiring deck officers.
  • Diploma in Nautical Science (DNS): A one-year course followed by 18 months of sea training.
  • B.E./B.Tech. in Marine Engineering: A four-year program for engineering officers.
  • General Purpose Rating (GP Rating): A six-month course for entry-level positions.


  • STCW Courses: Including Basic Safety Training (BST), Advanced Fire Fighting (AFF), and Medical First Aid (MFA).
  • Certificates of Competency (CoC): Required for career advancement, obtained through examinations and sea-time experience.

"The Merchant Navy is not just a career but a way of life. The rigorous training and certification process ensure that we are prepared for the challenges of life at sea," said a seasoned mariner.

Salary and career advancement:

The Merchant Navy offers competitive salaries, varying by rank, experience, and vessel type. Entry-level officers can expect to earn between $3,000 to $5,000 per month. As they rise through the ranks to positions such as Chief Officer or Chief Engineer, salaries can range from $8,000 to $15,000 per month. Captains and Chief Engineers on specialized vessels may earn even more, reflecting their expertise and responsibilities.

Examinations and certifications:

Career progression in the Merchant Navy is structured and requires passing various examinations:

Officer of the Watch (OOW): Initial certification for deck officers after sufficient sea-time.

Chief Mate’s Certification: Requires additional sea-time and passing the Chief Mate’s examination.

Master Mariner Certification: The highest certification for deck officers, allowing them to command ships.

Engineering officers follow a similar path, progressing from Junior Engineer to Chief Engineer through examinations and sea-time requirements.

The Ta'poi legend of Odisha:

The maritime history of Odisha, a state on India's eastern coast, is rich with seafaring traditions and legends. One of the most celebrated tales is that of Ta'poi, reflecting the cultural and economic significance of maritime activities in the region.

Tapoi was a young girl from a merchant family who endured immense hardships due to the cruel behavior of her sisters-in-law while her brothers were away on long sea voyages. Despite her suffering, Tapoi’s patience and devotion led to her brothers returning and restoring justice. This story is commemorated during the "Tapoi Puja" festival in Odisha, honoring the courage and resilience of sailors and their families.

Professor S. P. Mohanty, a historian specializing in Odishan maritime history, explains, "The Tapoi legend is more than just a story; it's a testament to the deep-rooted maritime culture of Odisha. It underscores the significance of maritime trade in the socio-economic fabric of the region."

Public perception and cultural significance:

The Merchant Navy is often seen as a prestigious and adventurous career choice, offering opportunities to travel the world and earn substantial incomes. However, it also comes with challenges, including long periods away from home and the physical and mental demands of life at sea.

In regions like Odisha, the legacy of maritime history and legends like Tapoi adds a layer of cultural pride to the profession. The annual Tapoi Puja not only honors the legend but also celebrates the seafaring spirit, reinforcing the importance of maritime heritage.

Rohit Das, a Merchant Navy cadet from Odisha, shares, "Growing up with stories of Tapoi, I always felt a connection to the sea. Joining the Merchant Navy feels like carrying forward a proud tradition."

The Merchant Navy, with its deep historical roots and critical role in global trade, offers a rewarding and adventurous career path. With rigorous qualifications, training, and promising career prospects, it continues to attract individuals passionate about the sea. The cultural narratives, such as Odisha’s Tapoi legend, enrich the profession, highlighting the enduring legacy and importance of maritime heritage. As we navigate the future, the Merchant Navy remains a testament to human resilience, exploration, and the spirit of adventure.

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