1. What is Merchant Navy and should I join Merchant Navy ?
Merchant Navy is a profession where the cargo, goods or the other materials are transported by ships, from one port to another in the same country or one country to other country. The cargo can be of various forms viz Coal, Cement, Diesel, Petrol, LPG, LNG, or equipments / devices in containers etc. in bulk each having a specific type of ship. These ships are sailed by Mariners or sailors.

2. What is the difference between Indian Navy and Merchant Navy ?
Most people believe that Indian and merchant navy is one field. But Indian Navy deals with War and the staff  there are trained for the same. While on the other hand, we the Merchant Navy people are trained for the carriage of goods or Cargo as the name suggests. Indian navy people go on Naval Ships designed for combat while Merchant Navy people go on the various Cargo ships designed specifically to carry a particular type of Cargo.

Cargo ships can be:

A] a Tanker carrying Oil.
B] Container ships carrying (as the name suggests) Containers.
C] Dry Cargo ships carrying bulk cargo like Coal, cement and many more products.
D] Gas carrier carrying LPG or LNG cargo.
E] Passenger ships with passengers onboard etc etc .

3. What is Ordinary Seaman (OS) ?
An ordinary seaman is the starting point for mariners who want to work on deck. Depending on the type of ship, an OS will be a part of the deck department in cargo evolution docking and undocking and maintenance of the vessel (chipping, painting).The ordinary seaman primarily assists the able seaman with his duties, but may be required to do many other tasks. Tasks that the ordinary seaman may be needed to accomplish, include being on the lookout (someone who is responsible for watching for danger and warning other people), paint scaling (to remove the paint from a tooth by scraping the surface with a sharp instrument) and chipping, helping to moor the ship by handling lines, and helping to tie and let the vessel.

The next level is the Able seaman. By law, the able seaman should have the ability to perform all duties pertaining to the deck, except for actual vessel navigation. Generally speaking, the able seaman carries out the following duties: Splicing (connecting) the fiber line, working over the ship's side, operating machinery on the deck, taking care of cargo storage, taking care of the ship's rigging (the ropes and chains used for supporting a ship's sails and masts), and repairing the canvas. He should also have the ability to handle the lifeboat under sail.

The next rank of seaman is the Boatswain. This position can be closely compared to a foreman in an industrial plant setting. Often, the Boatswain is a very experienced seaman, and his domain is everything that has do with maintenance, taking care of deck equipment as well as cargo carried on the deck. When a ship is being secured for sea, it is the Boatswain that supervises this exercise, and also oversees cargo loading and offloading. Other seamen include a carpenter, whose duties are as varied as they are numerous, and a Quartermaster on some ships, usually the larger ones.

A deck cadet must be able to perform almost all deck duties, as well as navigation aboard a vessel, but at a basic level. However, deck cadets are assigned specific tasks on a ship, unlike a seaman, who can do any of the tasks that are pending.

4. What is CRB / TAR ?
Cadets undergoing SSTP are provided with Cadet Record Book or Training and Assessment Record book. This details the assignments to be completed and submitted by the candidates. This includes the structured training which the cadet is expected to undergo.

5. What is SSTP ?
Structured Shipboard Training Programme or SSTP is also known as Distance learning Program or DLP for deck cadets. This simply means that the Cadets need to complete a structured training programme on board ship when they join as trainee (cadet) on board. Cadets undergoing training needs to complete SSTP projects and assignments and send the same in due course of time. This helps in certain exemption of sea time and better practical training in more structured manner onboard.

6. What are RPSL Number ?
RPSL stands for Recruitment and Placement of Seafarers License.

7. What is CDC ?
CDC (Continuous Discharge Certificate) is an identification document, a seaman needs to sail. It is issued by the Shipping Ministry of any country through the Directorate-General of Shipping to those who have cleared the pre-sea and STCW course examinations from an authorized institution. Seamen with a CDC and a passport, along with an official letter from the shipping company, can travel abroad or enter the country without a visa. Although the forged CDCs were largely being used by unqualified men to secure jobs on ships, the fact that it also allows entry and exit without a visa, has now set alarm bells ringing at national security angle, owing to the terrorists known these days. It is high time cross reference to entry of CDC, INDOS and passport of seafarers are made, to curtail illegal entry of intruders into the country, and as well for statistical figures of Indian sailors leaving and returning back to their country. It is high time CDC norms were tightened. Free issue of CDC, to those who just undergo short-term course in the name of GMDSS, is another loophole for securing CDC and taking placement in other trades.

8. My shipping company says that after training I will join as Training Navigating Officer. How are training navigating officer different from Cadet ?
They are not different !! Some company call the cadets with strange names and ranks hence this confusion arises. Cadets, TNO or Training Navigating officer, Trainee, TME or Trainee Marine Engineer, Junior Engineer/Officer mostly refers to cadets in their respective departments.
9. Do I have to meet certain medical and eyesight standards to join the Merchant Navy?

Yes. You need to pass a medical examination conducted by a doctor approved by the Maritime Institute. There are also certain eyesight standards a candidate should meet. Colour blindness may not be a bar to joining, but it will be dependent on its nature and severity. When you apply to a shipping company as a trainee they will help you with the arrangements for your medical and eyesight test. The required eyesight test is available from local opticians.

10. Will my dyslexia be a bar to joining the Merchant Navy?
Dyslexia (medical condition making reading and writing difficult. a medical condition affecting the brain that makes it difficult for someone to read and spell words correctly) is not a bar to you joining the Merchant Navy. However, the nature and severity of your dyslexia will be the deciding factor as to whether you would be able to achieve seafaring certification requirements. Depending on an Educational Psychologist report, extra time can be granted during examinations if required.

11. What is a deck on a ship ?
The deck on a ship is like a floor like 1st. 2nd. 3rd.

12. How many deck cadets are there in a ship?
Around 15

13. What do you mean by a sponsored candidate?
The term sponsored candidate is used for as a candidate who will be sponsored a sea-berth on board a ship on completion of training. It does not relate to sponsorship of tuition fees at the pre-sea training institute. A candidate who has met all the qualifying  criteria; will be sponsored a sea berth by on board one of  its large fleet of ships.

14. What is Pre-Sea Training?
Every candidate desirous of joining as an deck cadet or Seaman on ships has to undergo 4 months of pre-sea training ashore. Pre-sea training can be undertaken in any pre-sea training institutes of your choice across India.

Cost of pre-sea training has to be borne by the candidate.

15. Don't you think the cost of Pre-Sea training is quite high?
You must aware of the reality that Pre-Sea training Institute is not subsidized by the government, there are various requirements that have to be fulfilled in order to conduct pre-sea training and the cost of carrying these out is very high and has to be borne by the institute.

16. What happens after the selection process?
After you have fulfilled and completed all the selection formalities i.e. submitting online form and registration charges, submitting your DD, You will be directed to undergo a 4 months pre-sea training at a our Maritime Institute The pre-sea course is a residential course i.e. you will be residing in hostel inside the campus.

In the 4 months of pre-sea course, you will be imparted training in shipping related fields and on general related topics. It is imperative that you pass the weekly tests in order to satisfy requirements for going on board ships.

After completion of the pre-sea training successfully, all your travel document requirements have to be in order before you can be placed on board ship. For this reason you must apply for your passport immediately on selection as a deck cadet or at least have your passport ready with you before completion of the entire courser.

Once your travel documents are ready, you will be informed to join the onboard training, during this period the company will be paying you a stipend of USD 250-300/- per month. Boarding and lodging on board the ship is provided free of charge.

Once you complete the onboard training period of 36 months you will attend a 4-months preparatory course to appear for the II-mates Certificate of Competency examination .Once you qualify in this examination you are eligible to become a third officer of a foreign going ship.

So to recap in order to become an officer onboard a ship you must undergo a 4 months shore based training in a Maritime academy, followed by 36 months training onboard ships.

Both these training has to be completed for a trainee to qualify to appear an examination as an officer.

17. What is the difference between a ordinary seaman and a able seaman?
Originally an Able Seaman was one able to "hand, reef and steer". That is, he could handle sails and ropes, reef sails as required and steer by the compass or the wind. An Ordinary Seaman was a learner who lacked these skills. Able Seamen acquired many skills, especially in rope work. In the days of sail, seamen actually rated themselves. The system worked because a man who signed as an AB risked dire punishment if he turned out to be incompetent.

In 1912 an Able Seaman was one with three years satisfactory experience as an Ordinary Seaman. As Ordinary Seamen did simple tasks like sweeping decks, the standard was low. Today there is formal training for seamen, at least in advanced countries and certificates are awarded

18. Does onboard training of 36 months to be completed at a stretch?
No, a trainee must get an all round experience on various types of ships and therefore we have broken up the 36 months in 3 intervals of 12 months each, after completing 12 months onboard one type of a ship the trainee is sent back home for a short vacation before sending him back on another ship for 12 months

19. What are cadets; are they some kind of trainees?
Yes, you are right. Trainees who train in the deck department to become Navigating officers are called "deck cadet", similarly trainee in the Engineering department is called an "engine cadet" or a "Junior Engineer".

20. What if I want to give up sailing in the future after becoming a Captain of a ship? Can I get employment ashore?

There are plenty of jobs available for Captains and Chief engineers ashore in marine related or engineering related fields. These positions carry much prestige and status.

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