what is merchant navy

What is Merchant Navy? A Complete Guide by Rife Consultancy

Merchant Navy generally is a common term used for the commercial shipping industry. It basically means a fleet of ships that are used for commercial purposes. The merchant navy is a specialised sector that is fully involved in commercial activities including cargo and passenger transportation over sea routes.

Merchant Navy is also termed as ‘Mercantile Navy’ or ‘Merchant Marine’. It consists of several fleets of passenger ships, cargo liners, tankers, bulk carriers, car carrier carriers, containers and other unique types of ships.

The industry includes the transit of goods and passengers throughout the globe using marine routes. Merchant ships may also take part in explorations or transporting passengers across ports.

It is an important part of the global shipping industry and the backbone of international trade carrying cargo as well as all commercial water-borne traffic. Since the majority of the trade activities in the world are carried out via sea routes, the merchant navy sector is far more prominent. Most of the import-export trade would come to a standstill if the merchant navy did not exist.

The merchant navy ships and crew are part of the commercial shipping of the country. The professionals who work onboard these ships are known as sailors, seafarers, and mariners.

Types of Merchant Navy Ships

There are total 8 different types of ships used in the merchant navy:

  1. Container Ships: Container ships are cargo ships that transport their goods in large containers, a technique known as containerization. They are most often used to exchange commodities between two countries.
  2. Cargo Ships: A cargo ship is a type of transportation vessel that transports cargo, commodities, and materials from one location to another. These are built for a specific purpose and are built with cranes and other gear to load and unload products.
  3. Bulk Carriers: Bulk carriers are designed to carry bulk cargoes such as coal, cement, grains and ore. These ships are mainly used for increasing safety purposes.
  4. Ro-Ro: Ro-Ro (Roll on-Roll off) shipping vessels are intended to transport mobile cargo such as trucks, vehicles, trailers, semi-trailer trucks, cars, and so on. Ro-Ro ships come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including cruise ferries, barges, and cargo ships.
  5. Tanker Vessel: These are shipping boats that are built with the goal of transporting and delivering bulk liquids and gases. The most common types of tanker vessels are gas carriers, oil tankers, and chemical tankers.
  6. Service Tug: Service tug ships are built for emergencies. These are backup ships that are utilized for service and repair.
  7. Fishing Vessel: This type of boat or ship is used to collect fish in the sea, lakes, and rivers. These are utilised to satisfy the fishing sector’s demand and supply requirements.
  8. Passenger Vessel: The major function of passenger ships is to transport passengers across the sea. They transport goods as well as passengers and vehicles from one location to another.

Merchant Navy Departments On Board

As a part of the merchant navy, you can work in three different departments on a ship.

  1. Deck Department: The deck department of a vessel is in charge of navigation, as well as cargo operations and berthing instruments located on the vessel’s deck. Deck Officers are in charge of ship navigation as well as all non-technical procedures and services. The Captain, who is also the top head of all the other departments, is at the top of the hierarchy.
  2. Engine Department: Engineers in the engine department are primarily responsible for the management and maintenance of a vessel’s machinery in the engine room. The Chief Engineer is at the top and reports to the Captain of the ship.
  3. Saloon Department: The catering/saloon department is in charge of food preparation and general cleaning for the crew and passengers. The Chief Cook, who also reports to the Captain of the ship, oversees the Saloon Department.

What are the requirements to join Merchant Navy?

In order to join the merchant navy, you need to have the minimum qualifications required for a particular job onboard. You must also be physically fit and meet the minimal medical criteria. The requirements for joining merchant navy differs from country to country.

For example, in India, Physics, Chemistry, and Maths (PCM) are the major disciplines required to become an officer in the Deck or Engine department. You will also be required to have English as a separate subject.

However, it is also possible to join the industry after completing your 10th!

Curious about knowing more? Wish to learn about how you can study and join the merchant navy in India? Contact us today at Rife Consultancy and we’ll guide you thoroughly!