ETO Varun Chawla’s Insights on Joining the Merchant Navy


ETO working onboard ship

In the vast ocean of career choices, some individuals find their true calling in the most unexpected places. Varun Chawla, an Electro-Technical Officer (ETO) hailing from Amritsar, embarked on a maritime journey that not only shaped his professional life but also forged lasting bonds. 

Recently, in an insightful talk hosted by Praneet Mehta, ETO Varun shared the captivating story of his odyssey in the merchant navy, reflecting on his experiences, lessons learned, and the evolution of the maritime industry.

Varun Chawla’s Story

varun chawala
  • Varun’s voyage into the maritime realm commenced in 2009, with a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, he stumbled upon a magazine advertisement for ETO vacancies. 
  • Intrigued, he took a leap of faith and entered the world of the merchant navy. His initial years were spent with Varun Shipping, a company that, although dissolved now, laid the foundation for his remarkable journey.
  • After three voyages with Varun Shipping, Varun Chawla made a pivotal decision in 2011 to join Seaarland Shipping Management. The move not only marked a shift to a more stable environment but also highlighted his keen sense of timing. Saarland offered competitive salaries ranging from $5400 to $6400, depending on experience. 

Lessons Learned and Advice

Varun sir candidly shared insights into his professional growth. Asked about his first ship as an ETO, he emphasized the vast disparity between theoretical knowledge gained in college and the practical challenges of life at sea. 

However, it was his take on automation that truly stood out. Varun praised automation as the life support and backbone of shipboard systems, underlining its integral role in modern maritime operations.

When queried about how aspiring ETOs can enhance their knowledge, Varun’s advice was simple yet profound: 

  • Respect your seniors
  • Embrace every task 
  • Never shy away from challenges
  • Make the machine manual your friend 

He emphasized that manuals are an ETO’s best friend, serving as treasure troves of knowledge that can significantly contribute to professional growth. Varun’s journey attests to the effectiveness of this advice, as he witnessed a $1500 increase in his salary by diligently following these principles.

The Best Company for ETO in LNG Career

the best shipping company

In response to a special question about the best company for an ETO in the LNG career, Varun Chawla unequivocally named Dynagas as the top choice. According to him, Dynagas stands out not only for its advanced technology and state-of-the-art machinery but also for offering a substantial monthly salary of $15,000. This valuable information will undoubtedly guide aspiring ETOs looking to carve their niche in the LNG sector.


varun chawala

Varun Chawla’s journey from Varun Shipping to Seaarland and, ultimately, to the LNG giant Dynagas, is a testament to the dynamism and opportunities present in the maritime industry. His story serves as an inspiration for those considering a career at sea. 

Varun’s advice, rooted in practical wisdom and firsthand experiences, provides a roadmap for aspiring ETOs to navigate the challenges of the maritime profession. As the talk concluded, Varun Chawla left listeners with a final nugget of wisdom

 “Know your machinery, think twice before you act, and success will follow you like the tides.”

  • ETO Varun Chawla 

ETO Varun Chawla’s Insights on Joining the Merchant Navy and Navigating a Maritime Career| Question Answer 

Question 1: How did you decide to join the merchant navy?

Answer: Varun Chawla’s journey into the merchant navy began in 2009 when he stumbled upon an ETO vacancy in a magazine. With a background in electrical and electronic engineering, the maritime world intrigued him, leading to a leap of faith into a career at sea.

Question 2: Which shipping company did you join initially?

Answer: Varun commenced his maritime journey with Varun Shipping in 2009. Although the company is now dissolved, it played a crucial role in shaping the foundation of his career, providing him with valuable experiences during his initial years.

Question 3: What was your salary range when you joined Seaarland in 2011?

Answer: Saarland offered Varun a competitive salary, ranging from $5400 to $6400, depending on experience. This move not only improved his financial outlook but also marked a transition to a more established and reputable shipping company.

Question 4: How did you view your first ship as an electrical officer?

Answer: Varun vividly described his first ship as a “different world” compared to his college studies. This highlights the transformative nature of practical experiences at sea, where theoretical knowledge meets the complex realities of maritime operations.

Question 5: How can ETOs increase their knowledge about everything on the ship?

Answer: Varun advises aspiring ETOs to respect seniors, embrace challenges, and, notably, read manuals. He considers manuals as the best source of knowledge, emphasizing their role as essential companions for those seeking to enhance their understanding of ship systems and operations.

Question 6: What mistakes should ETOs avoid on the ship?

Answer: Varun highlighted critical mistakes for ETOs to avoid, including lacking respect for seniors, avoiding challenges, saying ‘no’ to work, neglecting manuals, and making impulsive decisions. These insights offer a roadmap for professional conduct and growth in the maritime industry.

Question 7: What advice do you have for aspiring electrical officers?

Answer: Varun’s advice is straightforward yet profound: know machinery, think twice before acting, and understand the importance of thorough knowledge. This counsel serves as a guiding principle for aspiring electrical officers looking to successfully navigate the challenges and complexities of a maritime career.

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can a eto earn 15000$ per month

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