merchant navy ranks
merchant navy ranks

In this Post you learn about International & Indian Merchant Navy Ranks & Salary, eligibility elaborated by a merchant navy officer.

Ships require well-managed organizations and arrangements in every field to be able to complete long voyages efficiently. Smooth working of every machine, engine, and apparatus with proper food, lodging, and other facilities require proper distribution of duties and cooperation of the whole crew.

Therefore, the proper order of authorities and the officer is a must so that everyone has in mind their duties and responsibilities to run the Sun efficiently.

The ranking system in the merchant navy is therefore universally accepted which helps in smooth coordination and creates professionalism in the field. It also avoids drastic results of ignorance and confusion to a great extent.

Hierarchy is essential to have a proper idea of income, facilities, and power any cadet or officer enjoys so that they also can have a clear vision of where they lie in their career and the crew as well. Hence, every merchant navy or even other crews follow an order of posts with fixed duties and powers they hold.

Merchant Navy Uniform

Merchant Navy Ranks From Deck Cadet To Captain 1

One way to understand the rank of officers in Merchant Navy is their uniform because it plays a very significant role in maintaining the sense of pride to the officers.

The epaulettes and strips on it are the main feature that distinguishes different rank officers from higher to lower order so that it is easy to understand their rank and position in a ship.

Almost all rank officers wear white shirt and black trousers with black formal shoes and what differentiates them from each other is the number of strips they have on their epaulettes.

The cap has a black hood attached with a white top with mostly an anchor symbol. Technical department or the engineers wear boiler suits most of the time due to the nature of their work but same formal uniform is compulsory for them when meeting a higher officer.

Their epaulets contain symbol of propeller which is different from the anchor symbol of deck officers. The catering staff of the ship also wear white shirt with black trousers and shoes.

Merchant Navy Ranks

To give you a complete understanding of the hierarchy in ships, we are dividing ranks into the following three main categories:

  1. Merchant Navy Rank For Deck 
  • Captain
  • Chief Officer
  • Second officer
  • Third officer
  • Deckhands
  1. Merchant Navy Rank For Engine
  • Chief Engineer
  • Second Engineer
  • Third Engineer
  • Fourth Engineer
  • Fifth Engineer
  • Electrical Officer
  1. Merchant Navy Rank For Catering 
  • Chief cook
  • Trainee cook
  • Steward

Let’s start with the deck department and its officers and their ranks.

  1. Ship Officer Rank In Deck section

This is the most crucial and highest department of a merchant ship. It consists of officers who manage the ship, its navigation, and the working of the gears.

Most of the highest rank officers belong to this section and all the main decisions regarding the ship and its requirements and adjustments are taken by this department.

  • Captain

The captain is the master of the ship who holds the highest post in the crew.

He is answerable to the owner himself and handles various important responsibilities and gives commands to every other officer on board.

He is the highest authority of the ship and is at the highest position any Merchant Navy cadet can achieve. His decision is final in every field related to the ship.

A captain has to follow old maritime traditions of not leaving a damaged ship and save every member of the crew before he saves himself. Due to these ethics, he is paid the highest among all other officers of the ship.

Uniform of captain has four which is the highest among all, number of strips. These strips are of golden color on blue epaulets.

Salary: $7000 – $17000 

  • Chief Officer

After the captain of the ship, the chief officer enjoys the second-highest position.

He is the in-charge of executions of the deck and has the responsibility of following orders of the captain.

He handles daily on-going operations as well as cargo operations of the crew. The security and smooth functioning of the vessel are also monitored by him.

From security to accommodation to cargo affairs, everything comes under the leadership of the chief officer of the ship.

Whatever is commanded to him by the master is to be executed by him as he is the executive head of the department.

Chief Officer has three golden strips on his epaulets.

Salary: $5500 – $12000

  • Second officer 

Also called the second mat, he gives a direct report of everything to the captain and acts as a support to him.

His duties involve standard navigation watch duties, decrypting complex satellite data for further planning of the shipping route.

Read Also: How To Become Mentally Strong And Confident

Disputes between crew members and preparing alternate plans for every situation are also his responsibilities as a third-in-command of the crew.

He also acts as a primary officer of the vessel who prepares charts and other paperwork necessary for the voyage.

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A second officer has fixed navigation watch timings 1200-1600 hrs and he is also medical in-charge of the ship that takes care of every essential medical equipment or medication requirement of the ship.

Since the post of second officer comes after chief officer and captain, numbers of strips on their epaulets are two.

Salary: $3500 – $5000

  • Third officer 

Technical operations of the ship and fuel conditions are monitored by the third officer of the ship.

He has to keep himself updated about the fuel, tools, motor oils and other basic things and their stock in the ship.

He also has to keep checking that all emergency kits and other specific equipment are working properly and can be used if required.

He is also designated as 3rd mate who manages all document processes on ports and keeps a navigation watch timing of 0800-1200 hrs and 2000-0000 hrs for the sea.

The epaulets of the third officer contain only one golden strip.

Salary: $2100 – $4200

  • Deckhands

These are the deck cadets of the ship. They are freshers who newly became Maritime graduates and act as the workforce of the ship.

Their duties involve every type of work assigned to them by the higher officers like the captain, chief officers, and second and third officers.

Their main aim is to gain the experience of the sea and crew to practically apply what they have learned in their graduations or post graduations.

They are assigned every type of work whether its desk type or engine type so that they can understand the working and strategies of the ships to be able to handle it as a higher officer.

Their duties involve landing and loading of goods and equipment in the ship.

From basic works to initial technical posts, they are provided everything to have experience in every field.

Uniform of deckhands involves single but vertical strip on the epaulets.

Salary: $350 – $630

  1. Ship Officer Rank In Engine Section

Read Also: 7 Merchant Navy Courses And Exams Explained By Navy Officer

  • Chief Engineer

Chief Engineer is the responsible person for the working and maintenance of the engine and other machines of the ship. He is answerable for any fault or misbehaving of machines.

He gives all the instructions related to speed, direction and energy supply to the captain according to the capacity of engines, radar information, and stock availability.

He handles all mechanical, electrical and technical issues faced by the ship in its voyage or even at ports and also keeps a network update of nearby ships in case of emergencies.

The chief Engineer enjoys the authority to decide whether a ship is ready to board or not. His decision is final for any technical problem.

In terms of uniform, what differentiates the deck officer and an engineer is purple color in between the strips which is present only in Engineer’s epaulets.

Chief engineer has four golden strips on his epaulets just like the captain of the ship.

Salary: $7000 – $17000

  • Second Engineer

The second Engineer maintains and regulates the daily functioning and journey of the ship with his team of engineers.

The entry of fresher engineers in the ship for loading and installing equipment and regulating engine working is also done by him.

Environmental safety and no pollution are some other important duties of the second engineer when a ship travels internationally or in different regions.

He reports every update of the technical and mechanical department to the captain and the chief engineer.

He can also advise about the solution of any fault in machines or engines to his leader according to the exact condition of the ship.

Second engineer’s uniform has three golden strips on his epaulets which show they are lower in rank than chief engineer.

Salary: $5600 – $11000     

  • Third Engineer

The third Engineer follows instructions given to him by Chief engineer, second and third engineer and also works for maintenance and overall working of the engine.

He/she carries out routine operations and routine check-ups of the equipment and gives all the updates to his higher engineers.

The ship propulsion system, communication equipment, and power plant installations are monitored by him.

Two strips on his/her epaulets is the identity of third engineer in Merchant navy.

Salary: $3500 – $5600     

  • Electrical officer

They are responsible for the proper recording of modifications and fixing basic electrical and electronic equipment in the regular functioning of the ship.

They also maintain the electrical system of the crew and coordinating with shore technicians.

Salary: $3000 – $5200   

  • Fourth Engineer

Logistics for the ship are maintained by the fourth engineers. They manage the oil supply, gadget changes, gear shifts and other basic operations of the ship.

Water supply, air conditioning, ventilation and other facilities of the crew are also handled by them. Energy and fuel requirements are also looked after by these engineers.

A fourth engineer has only single golden strip and has lower position than third officer.

Salary: $2100 – $4200

  • Engineer/Junior Engineer

He/she assists and learns the basics of the engine room and helps senior engineers as assistants to rectify any technical mistakes and fixing any other faults that come in the voyage.

They help in the watch duty of their seniors. They take all the ratings and data from machines and submit them to higher engineers.

This is the lowest post in engineering department with a vertical strip on the epaulets.

Salary: $1000 – $1400

  1. Catering Rank List

  • Chief Cook

The chief cook falls in this category because he is in-charge of the food and meals for the whole crew.

He also handles food stocks, basic requirements and overall catering service of the ship.

His duties also include maintaining cleanliness and preventing stock and spaces uncontaminated so that the health of crew members can be assured.

Salary: $1400 – $2000

  • Trainee Cook

Trainee cook assists the chief cook in preparation for meals and helping him to supervise the cleanliness of the crew.

He works under the chief cook to give him updates of the stock left and preferences in meals.

Salary: $500 – $790

  • Steward 

The job of Steward involves preparation and serving of food to the crew members and sweeping of the area after the meal preparation.

He is the helper of both chief cook and Trainee cook. Managing stocks, planning the menus, etc. also comes under his duties.

There are other ranks also in the catering department but mains are already mentioned.

Salary: $200- $250

To know more about Merchant Navy Salary Click Here




There is some unlicensed crew also in a Merchant Navy ship which helps in small works and daily routines of the ship, these are:

Oiler: He maintains cleaning engine parts like gears, motors, ejectors, etc.

Bosun : Takes care of the crew under the chief officer.

Motorman:  He keeps the engine and other machines working smooth.

Able seaman (AB) : Have the possession of Merchant mariner’s document and serves help in deck related jobs.

Ordinary seaman (OS) Rank

Buffing, scaling deck cleaning, painting the infrastructure, wiring, rigging, loading, dismantling cargo, etc. are works of an ordinary seaman.

Seaman Rank

This post is referred as lowest post in Navy. The responsibilities of seaman are numerous and varying in nature.

They are ranked after Able and ordinary seaman. Their work is not specific like cadets but they assist other higher seamen and officials in the ship for basic as well as different tasks.

Above them is an ordinary seaman and above to him is Able seaman. Salary of seaman varies from country to country and company to company depending upon the quality of navy trade there and other conditions.

Starting salary of seaman can be $75 – $100.This salary varies from type of the ship you are recruited in and nature of your work. This is also the starting salary in Navy because seaman is one of the lowest paid posts in Merchant Navy.

With experience of sea and training and examinations, a seaman can rise to able and ordinary seaman and even more.

Read Also:  How to Join Merchant Navy After 12th

A continuous training experience along with skills and clearance of different examinations, a seaman can rise to captain’s post too.

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