Merchant Navy Advantages and Disadvantages
Last updated on March 10th, 2023 at 11:19 am
Are you curious to know about the advantages and disadvantages of the Merchant Navy? Do you want to spend your professional life onboard a ship? By the time you finish reading this blog, you will have a good idea about the advantages as well as the disadvantages of the Merchant Navy, which would act as a guide for new aspirants. It would give readers a better idea of the life and work of a sailor on a merchant vessel. Hope his data helps interested candidates make informed decisions! So, without wasting any more time, let us jump into the matter! Let us highlight the pros first.
Advantages of Merchant Navy:
1. An Early Financial Independence:
Seafarers get to earn in US dollars
Young seafarers are paid quite well in US dollars which are comparatively higher than their fellows onshore in other industries. Most shipping companies offer excellent packages, incentives, and benefits right from the start of your career that is comparable to or superior to any other industry in the world. The cost of joining, travel and flights at the time of sign-on and sign-off is paid by the company itself, apart from the high income which you get in Merchant Navy. Hence young seafarers get early financial independence in Merchant Navy.
2. Long Vacations:
A sailor enjoying vacations with his family
Since the profession of the Merchant Navy requires long working hours, the vacations offered to the professionals of the Merchant Navy are equally compensatory. Long vacations in Merchant Navy is definitely a privilege for seafarers. They themselves decide their availability for the next contract. This allows seafarers to enjoy the best of both worlds: land and water. A vacation of more than 3-4 months is definitely long enough to relax and indulge in all your passions, isn’t it? The vacation a sailor gets is in its purest form, there is absolutely no job stress while a sailor is at home and you can fully enjoy time with his family or pursue his/her passion. The people with enthusiasm to work hard and a will to live well should look for a career in the Merchantile Marine. It would be satisfying without the person experiencing any remorse in their chosen profession.
3. Enhanced Discipline and Professionalism:
Professional seafarers working onboard
A profession like a Merchant Navy gets you to work with different nationalities onboard which enhances the sense of adaptability and professionalism in seafarers. This also helps the individual understand and function better as a team player while learning the importance of different cultures and traditions. Merchant mariners must have good communication skills, along with the observance and maintenance of a high level of discipline. While working onboard, a person develops professionally and personally. This professionalism goes hand in hand with great responsibility towards the ship and its crew.
4. Tax-free Income:
Non resident seafarers pay no income tax
A sailor’s income is taxed on the basis of his state of residence.
1. Resident Seafarers Income Tax:
The salary of resident seafarers or Merchant Marine personnel are taxed under the Income Tax Act of India. There are no income tax exemptions for seafarers.
2. Non-resident seafarers income tax (NRI status):
If a ship’s crew member works outside India for 183 days or more during the tax year according to his CDC (Continuous Discharge Certificate) or passport, his residency status will change to a non-resident sailor. The foreign salary of a non-resident seafarer/Merchant Marine personnel is not taxable in India. Hence Indian seafarers can have a tax-free income in Merchant Navy.
5. Adventure and Travel Opportunities:
A vessel at the port
This job is very adventurous since you can travel to different parts of the world. You could travel to almost any corner of the world without having to pay money out of your pocket. Other routine jobs in different sectors require people to work hard with very little time to roam freely around the world.
People who like nine to five jobs shouldn’t join the Merchant Navy. Commercial mariners can spend days exploring and seeing magnificent ocean views that soothing like none other. People spend hundreds of thousands of rupees on cruises to travel and you would do it for free because of your work profile.
6. Uniform and Respect:
It takes years of discipline, hard work, dedication, and work ethics for a maritime professional to become worthy of wearing the prestigious Merchant Navy uniform. These stylish uniforms not only fascinate the industry, but also those who have no idea what defines these maritime professionals. For some, the uniform is not just two pieces of clothing, but an experience, an achievement, and an attachment to an industry that made them what they are today. It is true that many young people dream of naval uniforms. However, you have to work hard to earn this privilege. Thus a uniformed job like the merchant navy helps you earn pride and dignity.
7. Temporary Seniors and Colleagues:
A vessel’s crew onboard
In a profession like Merchant Navy, where you work on a contractual basis, you work with different seniors in every contract. For deck crew, their captain would not be their permanent boss. Similarly, for the engine crew, their chief engineer would change in every contract or mid-sail. Here, in Merchant Navy you just have to bear a bad boss for a contract, chances are you won’t have to work under the same seniors again. On the other hand, if you are sailing with a good Chief Engineer or a Captain, unfortunately, he will also change in a few months.
Disadvantages of Merchant Navy:
1. Away From Home:
Sailor leaving his family
We have to agree with the fact that long vacations are possible and useful for seafarers. However, the need of spending months onboard a vessel away from your own family is not at all attractive! A normal office job gives you the luxury of coming home every night, spending every day with your family and friends, etc. This is not possible in the case of Merchant Mariners! With increased connectivity and family admission on different company ships, but most of the time you may not be lucky enough. Being a seafarer and accepting the hardships may make you a little stronger.
2. No Immediate Medical Help:
No Immediate Medical Help
Imagine that you are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with no nearby port or country, and when there is a serious injury an investigation on medical care is given, frankly, first aid at an advanced level, but if the victim has an urgent need for hospitalization, this is not possible. Many deaths happen, which makes it a dangerous profession. Therefore companies try to maintain a high level of safety standards on board. Very few top-notch companies can provide medical extraction to injured personnel if in case the situation arises.
3. Never Ending Exams:
Seafarers need to clear COC exams for promotion
Regardless of the sequence selected, the Presea training and associated exams are not a child’s play. As in any other profession, a high level of commitment is required here. After successfully completing their cadetship and onboard training, individuals are required to pass the Certificate of Competency (COC) exams held by the Mercantile Marine Department (MMD). This requires careful preparation and an excellent level of theoretical and practical knowledge. Don’t think that after securing a placement or a job onboard, you would be given timely promotions. Cadetship then comes studies and after that COC. It’s like sea experience, then exams, then again experience, and then exams, this goes on and on. Generally, people get promoted to the rank of captain or chief engineer in more or less than 12 to 15 years.
4. Social Life:
Poor social life of seafarers
One of the few disadvantages of Merchant Marine would be staying away from loved ones for a long period of time. It is definitely difficult and above all, it puts people at crossroads where it becomes really difficult to manage a career with a long-distance relationship. Long-distance relationships are something that every mariner should know they would be going through. Onboard you don’t have your partners or family members to celebrate, cry or share feelings with. Although top companies provide the crew with internet facilities to connect with their families but still, the social life in Merchant Navy is poor.
Piracy is actually a serious threat and pirates are a problem, especially when navigating in areas where piracy is highest. Generally, armed guards are present on ships today when ships pass through these areas or proper measures are taken to counter-piracy. While the number of piracy attacks has decreased along the Somalian coast, piracy incidents have increased significantly along the West African coast. As maritime organizations continue to introduce new regulations and guidelines to protect ships from pirates, seafarers must also be extremely careful and vigilant when their ship enters a piracy-sensitive area. India’s oldest Merchant Marine officers union has seen an abrupt increase of around 26 percent in Maritime Piracy due to the covid 19 pandemic all around the world.
Should You Join Merchant Navy?
Merchant Navy is definitely a fruitful career option for the soul that comprises all the basic steps that essentially need to be taken. It is one of the best career options today. However, every career option has its own advantages and disadvantages. Same is the case here, you will experience both pros and cons of the Merchant Navy. Improve your social skills, as working with people from all over the world and getting to know their culture, food, etc. Seamanship is not an easy job. It’s for the fittest and the toughest, as you’ll be working at 45 °C in the engine room as you cruise the Gulf of Eden. Six months on land is the time to do what you want, unlike a job on land where you rarely have free time to roam around. Your boss changes every 4-6 months. This means that you will only have to deal with the annoying boss for up to some months. It’s an amazing career option, and obviously, there are pros and cons. So if you intend to do it, pick up the career wisely. Cheers!