The Merchant Navy and its Deck, Engineer and ETO Officers

Officer Cadets in today's Merchant Navy have an opportunity to develop rewarding careers within the dynamic and demanding industry that provides the backbone of Britain's trade.

The modern Merchant Navy operates sophisticated ships providing Britain with an essential link to the rest of the world.

The advanced shipping fleets operated by individual companies offer an exciting variety of specialist vessels, ranging from large ocean-going tankers and bulk carriers, to luxurious cruise liners and high-tech support vessels.

The maritime sector is the third largest revenue generator in the UK. More than 95% of Britain's commercial goods are imported and exported aboard ships, all of which are reliant on highly competent seafarers whose skills are held in high regard throughout the world.

The Merchant Navy also provides vital services and support across the world's industrial sectors for energy extraction and seabed mining; surveying and exploration; wind farming and cable laying; as well as operating advanced and highly specialised emergency response and recovery vessels.

Ships work around the clock and in the British fleet they provide wide-ranging career opportunities for Deck, Engineer and ETO officers. These offer a unique lifestyle and excellent prospects for promotion. Careers at sea provide an opportunity to rapidly gain considerable experience and responsibility in a stimulating and varied working environment. Qualified seafarers also have extensive career opportunities ashore in the maritime and associated industries.

The Ship's Company

Modern ships are technologically advanced and require seafarers to apply a wide range of expertise.

There are normally two main departments on board - Deck and Engineering. Ships carrying passengers also have a Hotel Services department and many other roles catering for the demanding needs and expectations of the paying passenger.

The Deck department is concerned with the overall operation of the ship; responsibilities including navigation, communications, cargo or other ship operations, stability and safety. The Engineering department is responsible for all technical services including main engine propulsion, other plant and machinery, electrical generation and maintenance, all controlled by a complex array of computer control systems that need monitoring 24 hours a day.

The number in a ship's crew varies according to the size and type of ship and its area of operation. The ships company may range between as few as six crew members and up to twenty-five or more. These numbers will be significantly higher on passenger ships and ferries in all departments but particularly in the Hotel Services department, depending on the number of passengers carried.

For further information on Careers at Sea as a Deck, Engineer or Electro-Technical Officer, use the links provided below:

Updated:   February 2016.