Difference between merchant navy indian navy

What is the difference between Merchant Navy, Indian Navy, and Coast Guard?

A lot of people who wish to make a career at sea are often confused between these three fields – many of them think that Merchant Navy and Indian Navy are the same. However, there are huge differences in both of these fields, in terms of everything from eligibility criteria to pay scale. The Indian Coast Guard is also a separate force of the Union of India. 

Thus, in this blog, we’ll take you through all the major differences between the Merchant Navy, Indian Navy, and Indian Coast Guard.

Difference between Merchant Navy and Indian (Defence) Navy

1. The Basic difference between Merchant Navy and Indian Navy

Merchant Navy: Merchant Navy, as the name suggests, represents commercial marine services. Unlike the Indian Navy, it is not regulated by the Government authorities. It consists of a fleet of ships that are used specifically for the purpose of commercial shipping. This implies that Merchant Navy ships can transport everything from goods to passengers to various places around the globe.

The operations of the Merchant Navy are not limited to a single country. The rules and regulations of the industry are regulated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Ships operating in the Merchant Navy can either be owned by the government or private shipping companies. 

Indian Navy: Defence Navy refers to nations’ maritime military wing. The vessels/ships of the Defense Navy are solely for the purpose of national security. Naval ships are those that are utilized during international crises to safeguard a nation’s sea borders from being infiltrated or assaulted unnecessarily.

The Indian Navy is purely regulated by the Government. People working in the Navy are said to be working for national duties. Thus, while the Merchant Navy is purely commercial, the Defense Navy is for national security.

2. Eligibility criteria to join Merchant Navy and Indian Navy

Merchant Navy: To join the Merchant Navy, you should have a 10 or 10+12 with the subjects of physics, chemistry, and mathematics with a minimum of 60% marks. Candidates who want to apply for higher ranks will require a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering or nautical science in order to join the engineering or navigational fields. The age limit for joining the Merchant Navy is from 17 to 25 years. 

Indian Navy: In order to join the Defence Navy, the candidate must have a 10+2 or equivalent certificate with mandatory subjects of physics and mathematics, and at least one out of biology, chemistry, or computer science. The age limit lies from 16 to 20 years. Also, the candidates should be unmarried. 

3. Pay Scale in Merchant Navy and Indian Navy

Merchant Navy: In the Merchant Navy, the salary scale depends upon the standards set by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). The minimum pay scale is set as per the hierarchy of the jobs. The Merchant Navy is already famous for high-paying jobs and a glamorous life onboard. Even as a trainee ordinary seaman, the candidate can earn $200-$300 per month. 

Indian Navy: The pay scale in the Defence Navy is set as per a nation’s laws and differs from country to country. The salary depends upon the position and the years of experience in the industry. All recruits shall receive a stipend during their training period at the rate of INR 14,600 per month. 

4. Ranking Structure in Merchant Navy and Indian Navy

Merchant Navy: The ranking according to the departments in Merchant Navy is as follows:

  1. Deck Department: Deck Cadet > Third Officer > Second officer > Chief Officer
  2. Deck Department Rating: Trainee Ordinary Seaman > Ordinary Seaman > Able Seaman > Welder/Fitter > Bosun
  3. Engine Department: Engine Cadet > Fourth Engineer/ Third Assistant Engineer > Third Engineer/ Second Assistant Engineer > Second Engineer/First Assistant Engineer > Chief Engineer
  4. Engine Room Rating: Trainee Fitter/Trainee Wiper > Wiper > Motorman > Fitter
  5. Saloon/Catering Department: Steward > Trainee Cook > Chief Cook

Indian Navy: The Defense Navy officers are ranked as below:

1. Commissioned Officers: Sub Lieutenant > Lieutenant > Lieutenant Commander > Commander > Captain > Commodore > Rear Admiral > Vice Admiral > Admiral > Admiral of the fleet

2. Junior Commissioned Officers: Chief Petty Officer > Master Chief Petty Officer (2nd class) > Master Chief Petty Officer (1st Class)

3. Non-Commissioned Officers: Seaman 1 and 2 > Leading Seaman > Petty Officer

5. Employment rate in Merchant Navy and Indian Navy

Merchant Navy: The Merchant Navy is an International trade business system. While India is facing a huge unemployment rate, there has been a 35% increase in the employment rate since 2018 in the marine field. The Covid-19 pandemic was a setback for the industry, however, it has bounced back and is generating more employment opportunities since the last quarter of 2021. 

Indian Navy: In the Defense Navy, the youth can go from NDA, CDS, and now INET is also there. Vacancies are regularly generated for multiple posts. NDA and CDS exams are conducted twice every year for officer-level positions.

6. Age of retirement in Merchant Navy and Indian Navy

Merchant Navy: Technically, you can sail on a ship as a crew as long as you are medically/physically fit, and can undertake your responsibilities effectively. Some companies have their own retirement policies, but most of them allow you to sail if you fulfill the above requirements. Some people sail even in their 60s while others retire at 45.

Indian Navy: The retirement age (superannuation) is linked to your rank held. As it stands now, the minimum age of retirement is 54 years and the maximum is 62 years. According to some statistics, most people retire from the Indian Navy in their 40s and then join the Merchant Navy.

7. Medical requirements in Merchant Navy and Indian Navy

Merchant Navy: Candidates should be medically and physically fit. A full medical check-up through a Panel Doctor approved by D.G Shipping will be undertaken. A complete eyesight test will also be conducted in which the distance vision should be 6/6 with no color blindness. Candidates below 42 kg of weight and below 150 cm of height are not eligible. 

Indian Navy: To join the Indian Navy, candidates are required to undergo a physical fitness test. The minimum height requirement is 157 cm. A 6/6 vision is required and there are certain restrictions regarding body tattoos as well. Candidates also need to go through a medical test.

Difference between Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard

A majority of people think that the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard are the same. However, that’s not the case. Both of these forces are completely different from each other. Below are some points that will clear all the major differences between the Indian Navy and Coast Guard. Our armed forces mainly consist of the Indian army, Indian airforce, and Indian Navy but Coast guard is considered as the fourth armed force of the Union of India.

Major differences:

  1. Indian Navy was formed in 1612 whereas the Coast Guard is a new force and was forced in the year 1978.
  2. The Indian Navy has a large number of active soldiers, however, the Coast Guard has a smaller number of active personnel.
  3. The uniforms in both Indian Navy and Coast Guard look almost the same. The only difference you get to see is in the belt and cap.
  4. Indian Navy serves as a complete package as it works both above the surface and beneath the water. Whereas the primary emphasis of the Coast Guard is to monitor our country’s coastline.
  5. The Indian Navy’s objective is to develop, train, and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, preventing invasion, and protecting freedom of the seas, whilst coast guards are responsible for law enforcement, search and rescue at sea.
  6. Indian Navy provides safety to Indian ships and ports from any threats from enemies. On the other hand, the Coast Guard looks out for illegal activities that might take place in the sea like smuggling. 
  7. The Indian Navy participates in many international exercises and rescue operations, while the coast guard does not.

Salary differences between Indian Navy and Coast Guard

The salary that you can get in both of these forces depends upon your rank, i.e., the position at which you are working. Candidates working in the Indian Navy, Indian Air Force, and Indian Army are awarded an allowance known as Military Service Pay (MSP). Dearness Allowance (DA) is also payable on this. Thus, the only difference between the salary of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard personnel is of the MSP – rest is all the same. 

Service period differences between Indian Navy and Coast Guard

In the Indian Coast Guard, once you are recruited, you can serve for up to 57 years of age. If you want to leave service before that, you can do so by talking to the upper authorities.

In the Indian Navy, you have an initial appointment of 15 years and 20 years. If you join service through Senior Secondary Recruit (SSR), Matric Recruit (MR), Non-Matric Recruit (NMR), then your initial service is 15 years and if you come through Artificer Apprentice (AA) then your initial service is 20 years.

If you wish to serve in the Indian Navy after your initial period, you must have a good medical condition as well as a strong service record. In case you meet both of these requirements, you can continue to serve.

Pension differences between Indian Navy and Coast Guard

In the Indian Navy, when you complete your initial service of 15 years as SSR/MR/NMR and 20 years as AA, you are entitled to receive a pension. After that period, even if you leave your job voluntarily, you will get a pension. 

In case of the Indian Coast Guard, the employees don’t receive a pension amount. In 2004, the Indian Government passed a law stating that pension facilities will be stopped for all government employees except those serving in the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which one is better: Indian Navy or Merchant Navy?

Merchant Navy represents commercial marine services that consist of a fleet of ships that are used specifically for the purpose of commercial shipping, whereas Indian Navy refers to nations’ maritime military wing where the vessels/ships are solely for the purpose of national security. Thus, both of them have their own significance with individual importance in the functioning of the country. 

2. How is Merchant Navy different from Indian Navy?

Merchant Navy and Indian Navy are completely different from each other as the former involves commercial shipping while the latter deals with national security at sea. Both of these forces differ in terms of ranks, salary, joining criteria, pensions, and more. 

3. Is Merchant Navy a Government job?

No, Merchant Navy is not regulated by the Government. The operations of the Merchant Navy are not limited to a single country. The rules and regulations of the industry are regulated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The ships operating in Merchant Navy can either be owned by the government or private shipping companies.

4. Is Merchant Navy better than NDA?

Both Merchant Navy and the NDA are entirely different from each other. If you wish to work in a commercialized private sector, consider joining the Merchant Navy as it deals with the transfer of cargo or passengers from one destination to another. If you wish to serve the nation by becoming a part of the maritime military wing, go for NDA (Defence Navy).

5. Can girls also go in Navy?

Definitely, women can join the Navy following the same procedure as men. There are no differences in the eligibility criteria, recruitment, or selection procedures. Presently, women are inducted into the following branches/cadres/specializations of the Navy as Officers: ATC, Observer, Law, Logistics, Education, Naval architecture, Pilot, and Naval Armament Inspectorate.

6. Can you join the Indian Navy from Merchant Navy?

Yes, a considerable percentage of people serving in the Indian Navy retire and then join the Merchant Navy. You simply need to meet the eligibility criteria and hold the required qualifications to join the Merchant Navy. 

The bottom line

We hope that through the above article, all your doubts regarding the differences between the Merchant Navy, Indian Navy, and Coast guard were cleared. Jobs in both Merchant Navy and Navy require you to stay away from your family for prolonged periods of time in very tough conditions. Both of these fields are highly rewarding yet challenging at the same time! However, as compared to the Indian Navy and Coast guard, Merchant Navy is a relatively safer sector.

If you wish to join the Merchant Navy, Rife Consultancy is here to help! You can reach out to us at +91 8160370087 and we’ll guide you through the entire process of making a career in the maritime industry. 

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