Is the Merchant Navy A Good Option For Girls? A Guide for Women to Join the Merchant Navy

Merchant Navy and it’s Significance

The merchant navy, often referred to as the commercial shipping industry, plays a pivotal role in global trade and transportation. Comprising a fleet of cargo and passenger vessels, this sector facilitates the movement of goods, commodities, and people across the world’s oceans and waterways. 

Significance of Merchant Navy in Global Trade and Transportation

  1. Lifeline of Trade
  2. Economic Growth
  3. Energy Transportation
  4. Global Access.
  5. Consumer Convenience
Women Crew onboard

Yes, Women Can Join the Merchant Navy

  • Women seafarers are proving their mettle and showcasing their capabilities, earning the respect and admiration of their colleagues and the industry at large.
  • With women joining the ranks, the industry is becoming more diverse and inclusive, fostering a positive and enriching work environment for all.
  • The inclusion of women is breaking down traditional barriers, leading to stronger communication and mutual understanding among crew members.
  • The growing presence of women is helping to address workforce shortages and ensure the sustainability of the maritime industry.
  • As women continue to rise in the industry, it’s fostering a culture of equality and professionalism, setting a positive example for future generations.
Women Officer onboard

How Women Can Join the Merchant Navy?

Women can join the merchant navy in four ways:

Deck/Navigational Department

The deck or navigation department is responsible for the safe navigation and operation of the ship, including plotting courses, watchkeeping, safety drills, cargo operations, communication, emergency response, bridge management, and maritime planning. 

Women can join the Deck/ Navigational Department by completing these course 

  1. B.Sc Nautical Science
  2. Diploma Nautical Science

Engine Department 

The engine department on a ship is responsible for operating, maintaining, and repairing the vessel’s propulsion systems, engines, and machinery to ensure safe and efficient navigation.

Women can join the Engine Department by pursuing these Courses

  1. B.Tech Marine Engineering
  2. Diploma Marine Engineering
  3. Graduate Marine Engineering 

General Purpose Rating 

A general purpose rating is also a way a Woman can join the merchant navy, A GP (General Purpose) rating onboard a ship serves as a versatile asset, assisting in various operations including maintenance, safety, deck tasks, emergency response, and catering support.

Electro Technical Officer

Females also have the opportunity to enroll in the Electro-Technical Officer program, enabling them to work as Electro-Technical Officers on ships. An ETO holds a position within the engineering department and operates under the Chief Engineer’s supervision. Their duties encompass overseeing and upkeeping all electrical machinery and equipment on the vessel.

For more information, check out this blog:-How can girls join the Merchant Navy

Age Eligibility Criteria 

Age limit for DNS, B.Tech and B.ScMinimum age: 17yearsMaximum age: General-27 yearsOBC(NCL)-30 yearsSC/ST-32 years
Age limit for Graduate Marine engineering The age of the Candidate must not be more than 28 years on the day of the start of training.
Age limit for Electro technical officer For general category candidates, the maximum age is 37 years as of the commencement of the course. For Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates, the maximum age relaxation of 5 years is applicable, and a maximum of 3 years relaxation applies to OBC (NCL) candidates as per the directives of the Government of India.

What is the IMU CET eligibility syllabus and pattern?

Challenges faced by women in the Merchant Navy 

Male-Dominated IndustryHistorically, the merchant navy has been male-dominated. Only 1.2% of global seafarers are women according to IMO data. Initiatives to include women are underway, but progress is gradual.
Dealing With Sexism Onboard/During TrainingWomen often encounter sexism and comparisons with male colleagues in physical abilities. New interactions with seniors result in repetitive questions about their career choices.
Dealing With Small-Minded PeopleWomen must navigate a diverse range of attitudes, including orthodox mindsets and potential jealousy from colleagues. Balancing interactions becomes crucial for harmonious work.
Facing Social PrejudicesSocietal expectations of women focusing on family and stereotypes about maritime work make it challenging for women to pursue this profession due to a lack of family support.
HarassmentHarassment, particularly sexual harassment, is a significant issue faced by women onboard ships. It contributes to a discouraging environment for women in maritime careers.
Limited Communication with Family and Loved onesSeafarers, including women, experience isolation due to limited communication with family and friends while at sea. Internet connectivity helps alleviate this challenge.
Career Demands and ResilienceA career in the merchant navy demands mental and physical resilience. Despite challenges, women with determination and strength can succeed in the maritime industry.
Future ProspectsThe International Maritime Organisation (IMO) actively promotes women’s participation in maritime roles. Growing demand for skilled seafarers suggests increased opportunities.

This blog will give you more insight into the challenges faced by the women

Scholarship Program by Government Of India

OrganizationMaritime Training Trust (MTT)
ObjectiveEncourage and promote Indian women to pursue a career in the seafaring profession.
Trustees– Director General of Shipping, Addl. Director General of Shipping (ex-officio Trustees)
– Two Trustees nominated by the Indian National ShipOwners’ Association (INSA)
– One Trustee nominated by DG(S) in consultation with INSA
Scholarship Amount (Cadets)– Rs. 50,000/- for Academic Year 2018-19
– Rs. 1,00,000/- for Academic Year 2019-20
Scholarship Amount (Ratings)– Rs. 1,00,000/- for Academic Year 2019-20
Eligibility (Ratings)– Enrolled for Rating Courses on or after 01.01.2020
Eligible MTIs– Successfully undergone CIP by DGS during academic years 2018-19 & 2019-20

Companies offering Job Opportunities/Sponsorship for Girls 

There are many companies that have a policy of gender equality and they recruit women for onboard ship operations. Some of them are:


  • Since its inception in 2011, the Strategies for Success Programme by MAERSK SHIPPING COMPANY has been a driving force in empowering women within our worldwide operations. With an impressive outreach, the program has successfully impacted over 2,300 women, equipping them to unlock their full career potential. 


  • Captain Radhika Menon, recipient of the 2016 IMO accolade for extraordinary courage at sea, serves as a mentor to Synergy’s young female seafarers.
  • Synergy’s forward-thinking strategies emphasizing diversity, inclusivity, and parity have fostered the advancement and success of women both within the company and its workforce.
  • As part of its dedication to inspiring women to pursue seafaring careers, Synergy has introduced the Chakra Scholarship program. This initiative facilitates training for students aged 14-15, enabling them to embark on a path towards the maritime sector’s opportunities.
Lady Officer Onboard

Indian Female Officers in Merchant Navy

With the help of the International Maritime Organisation and the governing bodies of different countries, women in the Merchant Navy have changed the idea that shipping is only for men.

However, it wasn’t easy for most women who decided to join this profession when it was mainly seen as a job for men. But over time, these women kept overcoming challenges and showing that they could succeed.

Even though there is still a difference in the number of men and women in this field, these women have shattered stereotypes and have set an example for the next generation of female sailors.

Capt. Radhika Menon

Captain Radhika Menon receives the Nari Shakti Puraskar 2021 | Synergy  Marine Group
  1. Radhika Menon, an Indian woman in the Merchant Navy, holds the position of captain in the Indian Merchant Navy.
  1. In 2016, Radhika achieved another milestone by becoming the first woman to be honoured with the IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea. She gained recognition for her successful rescue mission in June 2015 when she saved seven fishermen stranded on a boat for a week.

Sonali Banerjee

  1. Graduated from the esteemed Marine Engineering and Research Institute, Kolkata, in August 1999, becoming the first female marine engineer in the history of Indian Mercantile Marine.
  2. Obtained the first license for a certified watch-keeping engineer from MMD Kolkata in 2001.
  3. The first woman in Indian history to earn the top sailing license, Chief Engineer Officer, in 2007.
Chief Engineer Sonali Banerjee

Reshma Nilofer

  1. Indian marine pilot Reshma Nilofer Visalakshi currently pilots ships from the sea to the ports of Haldia and Kolkata.
  2.  After becoming certified as a river pilot in 2018, she became the first Indian and one of the very few female marine pilots in the world.
  3. In 2019, she was given the Nari Shakti Puraskar Award by Ram Nath Kovind, the president of India at the time.
Reshma Nilofer

Merchant Navy Colleges


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Maheshwar Minz

Nice blog it’s providing right information for girls

Ridhima Shah

Nice they are guiding in good direction to girls