Careers at Sea
Travel the world and get paid for it
You’ll never forget the first time you go to sea as a Trainee Officer. Your company will give you a ticket to wherever your ship is due to be docked, which could be anywhere in the world.
You could be catching the Northern lights off the Coast of Norway, watching a beautiful sunset over the South China Sea, spotting dolphins surfing in the bow waves of the ship or even marvelling at the scenery as you sail through the Panama Canal. Careers at sea can be very rewarding.
You will experience different cultures at first hand and come back from your maiden voyage with a million different stories to tell your pals.
Colin McMurray, Director of Clyde Marine Training, started out as a Deck Officer in the Merchant Navy. During his 10 years at sea, he sailed to 43 different countries and took time ashore in 35 of them. Not many careers will give you as many passport stamps as the Merchant Navy.
Life onboard a ship is busy and can be demanding. However the camaraderie of men and women working together to get the job done is very rewarding. You’ll soon have a whole boatload of new friends and in quieter moments you’ll have time to watch the world glide past you. When you board you’ll be given a tour of the ship and told what duties are expected of you.
You’ll learn a wealth of new skills and when you’re not working you can enjoy the leisure facilities and catch up on study time. It’s important to consider all aspects of the job as it might not be so easy when you first get onboard. The hours can be long and you’re bound to miss family and friends when you set off.
Working with people who speak a variety of languages can also be challenging, as well as getting used to different customs. A situation may even arise where you need to put your safety training into practice. Despite all this you’ll find that careers at sea have a multitude of rewards.
The ship’s company
The number in a ship’s company varies according to the size and type of vessel as well as its area of operation. There could be as few as six or as many as forty or more. These numbers will be significantly higher in all departments on passenger ships and ferries, depending on the number of passengers carried.
Irrespective of the size of the ship’s company, the structure of the various departments follows the same pattern. Limited numbers of other special personnel may also be carried. The fewer number of crew onboard, the more job sharing goes on. That’s why the training you receive is so comprehensive.
There are normally two main departments, deck and engine room. However ships carrying passengers will also have a hotel services department The Deck Department is concerned with the overall operation of the ship and responsibilities including navigation, communications, cargo management, stability, maintenance and safety.
The Engine Room Department is responsible for all technical services including main engine propulsion, other plant and machinery maintenance, electrical generation, maintenance, cargo and safety.
What happens when the anchor drops?
You’ve seen countries and ways of life you’ve never imagined. You’ve spent time ashore some of the most exciting places on the planet and you’ve been paid to do it all. Your voyage is over and you’ve earned some time off.
The first thing that will happen is that you will get free travel home so that you can catch up with family and friends. Generally speaking, for every period spent at sea as a Trainee Officer you will earn a quarter of that as leave, When you can actually take this leave depends on a number of factors, including the total time spent at college in any particular year.
Voyage lengths and operational requirements are also taken into account. These may vary between sponsoring shipping companies. The longest continuous periods of duty onboard ship will normally be about four months (but may be longer in some circumstances) and such a period will normally earn one month’s leave. Some companies have routine tours of duty six weeks or less, earning leave proportionately.
However, it must be emphasised that during training, a flexible approach must be adopted for both leave and voyage lengths. This is to ensure training programmes are completed, particularly with respect to scheduled college phases.