Physical and Medical Requirements to Join Merchant Navy

28 April, 2022

Physical and Medical Requirements to Join Merchant Navy.

Simply having the nicest grades and love for life on the sea won’t help you build a career in the merchant navy. You must have the physical fitness and medical requirements needed to be in the field of merchant navy if you are going to enter a marine institute. 

You must be in excellent mental and physical health and free of any deficit that would interfere with the effective execution of tasks on the sea in order to be deemed fit for selection. This is the most important requirement to begin your career in the merchant navy because if you cannot clear the medical examinations, you won’t be selected even if you have the highest percentages.

DG shipping establishes these standards of medical requirements, which are subject to change. Read on to find out everything about the medical process.

What is DG shipping approved medical?

The Directorate General of Shipping is a department under the Indian Ministry of Shipping. It is accountable for life, health, vessel, and the environment for Indian registered ships and ships at Indian ports.

As per the rules given by DG shipping, every seafarer shall be subject to medical examinations, as may be applicable, namely Pre-sea medical examination, periodic medical examinations, and periodic eye tests.

All the DG shipping approved doctors’ names are given on the DG shipping website. They conduct all kinds of medicals like pre-sea joining medicals, medicals required for MMD and exams, company-specific medicals, etc.

After clearing the medical requirements examination, the individual who meets the criteria of physical fitness will be granted a medical certificate and declared “fit for sea”. 

Who are DG shipping approved doctors?

There are a lot of DG shipping approved doctors in every state of India. In almost every city, you will be able to find 3-4 approved doctors who conduct medicals on a daily basis. These doctors are authorized to conduct tests and provide relevant certification that is necessary for getting admissions and placements in the merchant navy.

You can check out the entire list of DG shipping approved doctors here. (link to pdf)

What will be examined during the medical process?

1. Constitution

Male applicants having weight less than 42 kg and height below 150 cm will be rejected. The chest should be properly developed, with at least a 5 cm range of expansion. For female candidates, the height should be at least 145 cm and the weight should be 39 kg.

2. Skeletal System

According to the medical requirements, there should be no illness or impairment of bone or joint functioning. You should also be free of any chest or joint contractions or deformities. There should not be any abnormal curvatures of the spine, deformity of legs and feet like bow legs, knock knee, flat feet, deformity of upper limbs, malformation of the head, deformity from fractures, or depression of the skull.

3. Ears, nose, speech, and throat

There should be no hearing issues, discharge or illness in either ear. You should be able to hear a whisper at a distance of 5 meters on each side without using hearing aids. There should not be any illness of the bones and cartilage of the nose, or disease of the throat, palate, tonsils, or gums. There should be no speech impediment or disability, such as severe stammering or a noticeable lisp.

4. Lymphatic and Cardiovascular system

There should be no swollen glands in the neck or other regions of the body. You should have no evidence of cardiac or vascular illness.

5. Respiratory, Digestive, and Genitourinary system

The medical requirements state that there should be no signs of chronic or upper respiratory illness, TB, or a previous history of this condition. The digestive tract, as well as the liver and spleen, should be affected. The kidneys must not be swollen or infected.

6. Eyesight and skin

Candidates must have excellent binocular vision. The eyes must move freely in all directions, and the pupils must respond normally to light and accommodation. For Deck side, requirements are: 6/6 vision in the better eye and 6/9 in the other eye (without visual aids); no color-blindness is permitted. It will be an individual’s decision to do whatever is required to meet the requirement and as long as one meets the above requirement, he will be eligible for Deck cadet training. For Engine side, spectacles are permitted. Requirements are, 6/9 in the better eye and 6/18 in the other eye (without visual aids) or 6/12 in both eyes. There should be no skin disease except that of a temporary nature.

What is ILO medical?

The ILO (International Labour Organization) aims to ensure that it serves the needs of working women and men by bringing together governments, employers, and workers to set labor standards, develop policies and devise programs.

Whenever a candidate intends to join an international shipping company that requires going beyond the national borders, an ILO medical test needs to be done. This medical test is specifically required during the joining process. It is not necessary when you are joining an institute for pre-sea training. 

This test is done because when you are boarding an international ship, you need to be fit and meet certain international criteria set by the government. As compared to the DG shipping medicals, ILO medical is a bit more advanced and includes alcohol and drug checks too.

It is beneficial both for the candidates and for the shipping companies. When you clear this test, it makes it apparent that you are absolutely fit for joining the sea life and the government provides you with insurance that covers most of the major medical expenses. 

What is the cost of the medical process?

The cost of DG shipping approved medical process lies somewhere between INR 3000 to 5000. It may vary a bit depending on the location that you choose to get your medicals done. For instance, the cost of the process in Mumbai goes around INR 4000 to 4500.

The medical process takes almost a complete day if the pathological labs are in proximity otherwise the whole process may take up to two days. The doctor gives you three signed certificates, each with your passport-sized photo on it.

What is yellow fever?

Yellow fever is a viral illness transmitted by a certain mosquito species. It is recognized by a high temperature and jaundice. Jaundice causes yellowing of the skin and eyes, which is why the illness is known as yellow fever. It develops quickly, with symptoms occurring 3 to 6 days after exposure.

This disease is not curable, but you can prevent it with the yellow fever vaccine. Yellow fever vaccination is injected in a single dose. It contains a live, weakened form of the virus that helps your body to build immunity.

It is mandatory for seafarers to take the yellow fever vaccine, as the disease has no immediate cure after it occurs. Without it, you will not qualify for medical certifications. 

What are Flag state medical requirements?

Apart from the DG shipping approved medicals, you might have to appear for certain flag state medicals during your placement process, if required by the particular shipping company you’re joining.

Panama state medicals is one of the most popular ones that candidates might have to appear for. This medical will involve:

  • Checking your height, weight, blood pressure, and doing a physical examination to assess your fitness
  • Checking your eyesight and hearing
  • Testing for diabetes and kidney problems
  • Listing any medication that you’re currently taking and asking about your previous medical history

Additionally, you might have to undergo any of the following Flag state medicals:

  •  Republic of Liberia: Deputy Commissioner Of Maritime Affairs
  •  Republic of Vanuatu: Maritime Administration
  •  Maritime And Port Authority of Singapore (Shipping Division)
  •  Republic of Marshall Islands
  •  Government of Malaysia; Marine Department
  •  Government of Antigua And Barbuda, (ADOMS)
  •  Bahama flag state medical
  • Clinic conducts medical examinations for Oil & Gas UK

What is American Club P&I and Pre-Employment Medical Exam (PEMEs)?

Indian seafarers appointed to work on foreign-going vessels might have to undergo the American Club’s medical exam. This exam might be mandatory for seafarers from Bulgaria, India, Indonesia, Latvia, Philippines, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine. It depends on the shipping company that you’ll be working with. This certificate is valid for 2 years. The cost of the American Club PEMEs is periodically updated and the prices are summarized on the Price List for American Club PEMEs

Seafarers from the 9 required nations must attend a Club approved clinic with the following requirements:

  • American Club Medical Form must be completed, signed, and dated
  • Medical history questionnaire must be completed
  • All required tests must be completed to the Club’s PEME guidelines – Members cannot pick and choose tests
  • Clinics will not issue Club PEME forms if not all required tests are completed

Some concerns and considerations regarding PEMEs:

  • The test is undertaken at an American Club approved clinic
  • Seafarer’s PEME must include the full range of required medical examinations required
  • American Club PEMEs are not a statutory mandatory requirement in compliance with the STCW Convention and MLC 2006

You can find the list of Americal Club approved clinics in India here.

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