Dark Side of the Merchant Navy

The Merchant Navy, like any other industry, has its dark side that often goes unnoticed. What you know about the Merchant Navy is just the tip of the Ice Berg that’s why we have brought forth the unknowing truth and incidents of the Merchant Navy to give you insight into the dark side of the Merchant Navy

Smuggling in Ship

Smuggling through Ships

Merchant Navy has been infected by drug trafficking/smuggling depicting the dark side of Merchant Navy from the beginning of this industry. More than 80-95 % world’s transportation is done through shipping; indeed, the drug mafia and other drug dealers are willing to transport their drugs through merchant ships, especially containers. There are thousands of containers that a ship carries and nobody can check so many containers at once.

Drug trafficking continues to target commercial companies and many of their crew to smuggle drugs.

IMO has put in place extensive frameworks to safeguard crews from drug trafficking and smuggling, however, there are still many crews, master, and vessel detentions.

Some of the Smuggling Incidents are:-

  • In a recent incident on 17 JUNE 2022, MSC GUYANE was caught with 20 Tons of cocaine whose value worth $ 1 billion, thus executing one of the greatest drug trafficking in history
  • In another incident on 27 JAN 2022 of MSC Adelaide which carried 400 kilos of COCAINE, the crew was unaware of how the drug was hidden onboard the ship.
  • Such instances result in drug trafficking, pose a serious threat, carry harsh fines, and occasionally result in the vessel being impounded and the personnel on board being mistreated.

Fights Onboard Ship

Fight on Ship

A fight can occur on a ship when there is no mutual understanding between co-workers and senior officers. The fight can start with a heated conversation and sometimes lead to physical assault as well as manhandling. Fight creates tension and resentment which may eventually lead to trauma or mental instability, violent fights, and sometimes murders.

Some Incidents are:-

  • In 2018, on MAERSK SHIP, A violent accident occurred where Filipino AB beat Indian CO because of an overtime issue. Such incidents are intolerable in the eyes of maritime law probably AB will be sacked and CDC will be canceled. One report of such behavior is sent to the Filipino ministry to safeguard the interest of other seamen.
  • In 2021, MV VSG PRIDE, A Vietnamese chief cook stabs an Indian seafarer with a knife, the Indian seafarer sends SOS to Indian officials and also to take care of the matter.

Homicide on Ship

Fight on Merchant Navy Ship

Most of the merchant ships Handymax, Panamax, Capsize, Aframax, VLCC, and ULCC are nearly 100-350 meters in length and the crew onboard have to live within this range. Every working day they have to see the same faces, away from the family as well huge work pressure leads to mental disturbances.

There are many incidents where the crew fought their subordinates and their officers too.

Some of the Incidents are:-

  • On November 20, 2021, a chief cook on board the bulk carrier M.V. Meghan Liberty in Port Louis murdered the captain. He admitted to the crew that he murdered the captain in his quarters and surrendered himself to the ship’s staff.
  • On September 2022, M.V RAVENNA, LOS ANGELES, two crew indulged in a violent fight, where one crew attacked another resulting murder of the latter.
  • On April 16, 2020, in Hamburg Port, aboard the M.V. Cartagena Hamburg, the ship’s crew collaborated to commit the murder of the ship’s captain. Resulting in the detainment of their documents and referral for psychological assistance.

Frauds in Merchant Navy

Fraudulent practices in Merchant Navy

Fraudulent practices are one of the reasons the Merchant Navy is besmirched.

There are a lot of fraudulent practices going on in the market to make fools of innocent and unemployed people for getting a job. Even people are willing to pay lakhs of rupees to get a placement.

Sometimes agents fraud seafarers by sending them on a ship that is too old like in 1962. Which is just running miraculously with leakages all around. This immense danger arises from non-compliance with SOLAS regulations for minimum safety required on board.

To avoid fraud agents, always get a good sponsorship company.

Some of the Incidents are:-

  • In Ranchi, a group of students has been deceiving innocent individuals for the past two years. They promised these individuals employment in the merchant navy. However, the family was left in sorrow as they realized that the name on the employment is fake
  • In Jhansi, a fake exam was conducted, falsely promising a bright future through placement or sponsorship in the merchant navy. The scheme targeted unemployed and innocent students. When police later investigated complaints from parents, they found such a thing is leading at no place in merchant shipping.

Pirates Attack on Ship

Pirates attack on Ship

Piracy is one of the dark sides of the Merchant Navy. Pirates if boarded can cause harm to the ship’s crew and hijack the whole ship. The result of this is a huge ransom from the company for the ship’s crew and Cargo.

Some of the Pirate Incidents are:-

  • In 2021, off the African coast, pirates attacked an Indian Merchant ship named M.V. Tampon. During the attack, pirates injured two crew members, kidnapped one, and wounded the ship’s Captain and Chief with AK-47s. Additionally, the ship’s Second Engineer (2/E) went missing.
  •  Onboard ship Best Management Practices are provided to prevent ship against piracy. The ship has razor wire, barbed wire electric fences along the ship’s sides over staunchions to prevent pirates from boarding. Even though the ship is equipped with a fire pump, make sure to keep fire hoses and nozzles ready in case pirate boats approach nearby or during an emergency


Merchant Navy is one of the professions people know very less about. Just like every profession it has some downsides too but that doesn’t mean that it is not a good choice. There are certain factors that make it one of the most amazing careers out there. For instance, a handsome pay grade, and exposure to different countries and cultures. For those who are passionate about the sea and dream of riding on high waves, the Merchant Navy is not just a mere profession, it’s life.

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