The Merchant Navy

What is the Merchant Navy?

The Merchant Navy is the international commercial (civilian) shipping industry. It includes a huge variety of different kinds of ships that operate in every part of the world's oceans, including:

  • oil tankers
  • container ships
  • cargo vessels
  • cruise liners
  • car ferries
  • tugs
  • oil support vessels
  • research vessels
  • superyachts

What do Merchant Navy Officers Do?

Deck (Navigation) Officers

Deck officers are responsible for the safe navigation and operation of a ship, including:

  • loading and stowing cargo
  • planning the ship's voyage
  • navigating the ship
  • maintaining watches on the bridge
  • communications
  • maintenance of the ship's hull and deck equipment
  • safety of passengers and crew
  • managing the ship's crew

Newly qualified deck officers will start as junior officers, but with experience and additional training can progress to the ranks of Chief Mate (2nd in command) and Captain.

The ship's Captain is the highest ranking officer on a ship and has overall responsibility for the safe operation of the ship and the safety of everyone on board.

Engineer Officers

Engineer officers are responsible for the safe and efficient operation of a ship's machinery, including:

  • the main engine(s)
  • propulsion machinery
  • steering gear
  • auxiliary equipment (such as generators)
  • pumps
  • electrical equipment
  • air conditioning and refrigeration equipment

As well as the operation of the ship's machinery, engineer officers keep watches in the engine room, manage the engine room crew, carry out routine maintenance, and make emergency repairs.

With experience and additional training engineer officers can progress to the rank of Chief Engineer, the highest ranking engineer officer with overall responsibility for the safe operation of all the ship's machinery.