Merchant Navy ETO Case Study by Steven Iversen

Having many friends who are at sea, I researched traineeships and was immediately drawn to the newest of the disciplines, the ETO cadetship. I applied to the SSTG and was invited for an interview, where the journey started.

The college is equipped with various simulators and electrical workshops

I began studying at South Shields Marine School in September 2014, starting the Foundation Degree programme in Electrical and Electronic Marine Engineering. The college is equipped with various simulators (i.e. engine room, bridge) and electrical workshops featuring various exercises from High Voltage switching to maintenance tasks on electrical machinery. The programme features not only maintenance on heavy electrics but workshops which include fault finding down to electronic component level.

The most enjoyable were the two sea phases which are included within the cadetship

The practical aspects of the course were definitely the most enjoyable. Probably the most important aspect and the most enjoyable were the two sea phases which are included within the cadetship. I enjoyed sailing on different ships, working with different personnel, making various new contacts and getting hands on with all different types of electrical equipment varying from down in the engine room to up in the bridge.

My sponsoring company is P&O Ferries. P&O operate a number of Ro-Ro passenger vessels between the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe. During my time there I sailed on two ships, the first being the European Seaway, a 1991 build which was a freight only vessel. The second ship I sailed on was the Spirit of France, a 2011 build which handles passengers and freight.

The ETO is not confined to any one area of work

The position of the ETO is growing, more and more equipment is becoming electrical based. This means lots more maintenance work required for the ETO. Not to forget lights, lots and lots of lights. The ETO is not confined to any one area of work, and can be required to work in all areas of the ship which was a bonus.

A typical morning involves communication with the various departments (deck, engine, on board services etc) and opposite shift (e.g nights) to discuss any issues that have occurred after the end of shift. An inspection of all the electrical spaces on board is then done (e.g. battery lockers, switchboard rooms, lift machinery rooms etc) known as the morning rounds.

You will meet people from all walks of life in the merchant navy

Probably the most enjoyable aspect at sea is the challenge, you could be called to the same piece of equipment 10 times and the fault could potentially not be the same twice. As you start to gain experience and develop skills, to eventually fixing equipment it’s a great feeling. You will meet people from all walks of life in the merchant navy, living and board and making friends for life.

As more and more ships becoming electrically based this will offer lots of career opportunities. Working at sea offers seafarers a chance to travel the world, sailing on various vessels and learning along the way makes for an exciting career choice.

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