A fully qualified Marine Engineering Officer is vitally important to the operation and maintenance of a ship’s mechanical systems. It’s a big role with overall responsibility for elements such as:

  • Engines and ventilation systems
  • Navigation and communications equipment
  • Deck fittings like cranes, hoists and landing craft

Marine Engineering Officers are ranked according to experience and qualifications. As a result, your marine engineering cadetship journey will see you working up through the following ranks:

  • Chief Engineer – At this level, you’ll have overall responsibility for not only planning engineering tasks, but also the delegation of such tasks to other team members
  • Second Engineer – With this rank, you’ll be in charge of the day to day running of your ship’s engineering team
  • Third Engineer – Here, you’ll be a support function to the Second Engineer; helping to look after the ship’s mechanical systems and machinery
  • Junior/Fourth Engineer – The starting point in your marine engineering cadetship course. You’ll be carrying out general maintenance jobs on the ship’s machinery

Our Training Officer, Andrew Tait, started out as an Officer Cadet. With that in mind, he has answered some of the typical questions on what day to day life is like for a newly qualified Officer Cadet.

What’s Life Like Out At Sea?

Your days tend to start off meeting with the senior officers on board to discuss priorities for the upcoming day. Typical daily duties will include:

  • Making sure that fresh water is being generated for our vessel
  • Monitoring the parameters of all on board machinery; keeping an eye out for any potential dangerous trends/levels
  • Operating purifiers to ensure our fuel and lubricating oil is clean and doesn’t damage any machinery

You’ll also work with Senior officers on carrying out routine & non routine maintenance, which includes:

  • Routine – Changing machinery filters, fan belts, oil change, replacing pistons & gaskets, changing of annodes in water equipment etc.
  • Non Routine – Predominately breakdowns or having to use your initiative when for example, you don’t have any spare parts available

All maintenance jobs start with what we call a ‘toolbox talk’ where we highlight the task in hand, what we’re trying to do and the appropriate PPE that needs to be used.

Is Onshore Work For An Officer Cadet Any Different?

With onshore work, your days will tend to start off the same. You’ll have the same sort of meetings with Senior officers in ship building & ship repair, depending on priorities at the time.

Mainly, your days will be focused in two key areas:

  • The fitting, running and commissioning of mechanical machinery
  • Re-fits of existing major machinery

What Do Newly Qualified Officer Cadets Need To Know When Working Offshore?

Having confidence in yourself is huge. As a newly qualified Officer Cadet, joining a ship as a Junior/Fourth Engineer can be very intimidating. You’ll be expected to learn quickly and you might be asked to take a watch on your own after just a couple of weeks. In the offshore sector, it’s also not uncommon to be the only engineer on watch at times.

One of the crucial things early on is to familiarise yourself with your ship. In terms of absolute musts, all newly qualified engineers need to know the following:

  • The location of all bilge wells and how to operate the system
  • What your roles & responsibilities are in the event of any emergencies

Everything else, you’ll learn as you go and if you’re not sure of anything, your Senior officers are your first port of call for help. I’m six months into my job as 3rd Engineer and I’m pretty comfortable with my understanding of our ship. However, there’s still times when problems crop up that I’ve never seen before so you do learn something new every day.

Typically if you’re working on offshore supply ships, you’ll be working a lot on the bunkering and discharging of fuel to oil rigs. This means you’ll develop your competence and your confidence very quickly when it comes to both bunkering procedures and using the FO Cargo system. You’ll not just be dealing with fuels, you’ll also be discharging things like:

  • Potable water
  • Mud
  • Cement
  • Deck cargo

One of the great things in the offshore sector is the shift rotations. I’m currently working on a 5 weeks off, 5 weeks on rotation, which is great because it means I get to spend plenty of time with friends and family.

At Clyde Marine Training, we’re proud of our reputation as the UK’s largest provider of maritime training courses. We work with a number of international recognised maritime training schools across Scotland & England. If you undertake your marine engineering cadetship with us, your training would take place at one of the following locations:

Depending on your level of experience, you can expect to command a salary of up to £70,000 once fully qualified. There are a number of other benefits such as free food and accommodation while at sea, generous holiday allowances and the chance to see the world. So what are you waiting for? Start your journey with us today.

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