Myths About Merchant Navy

A career in the Merchant Marine is a demanding task. Sailing the high seas is a whole different life experience that no other profession can match. Jobs in the merchant marine primarily include work on a variety of ship’s deck officers, engine officers, or general-purpose rating crew. We have heard various myths, fallacies, and nonsense from people who have no idea about the industry. This is the main reason why, we at Merchant Navy Decoded have decided to break all these myths once and for all, so that next time if someone asks a question actually being a myth, is stated in this article! In this blog, we have covered a variety of cliché myths about seafarers working in the Merchant Navy. So, let’s begin!

A) Seafarers Are Habitual Drunkards

Myths about merchant navy - Seafarers are habitual drunkards
Myths About Merchant Navy – Seafarers drink a lot

The whole world seems to believe that seafarers are habitual drunkards. Moreover, they have an idea that the alcohol on board to a certain point is free! This notion gives people the credibility to believe that seafarers drink a lot of alcohol. What apparently gets ignored is the random alcohol tests that are conducted on board. The fact that drinking is a hindrance to severe judgment is also forgotten; and that mistakes at sea can endanger the lives of everyone on board.

In the favour of seafarers, the alcohol onboard is very cheap but that does not give them the freedom to drink it freely. Drinking on-board is fully in line with the company’s alcoholic beverage policy, in addition, the availability of liquor has now decreased onboard merchant ships. But not everyone is allowed, cadets and trainees cannot drink. Nor will you find any liquor on board any of the ships of the Indian shipping company. Additionally, most ships are becoming alcohol-free zones, given increasingly stringent regulations. However, seafarers are people too, their work is so physically and mentally demanding that perhaps they find a kind of relaxation in drinking.

B) Seafarers Have a Girlfriend/ Wife at Every Port

Myths about merchant navy - Seafarers have a girlfriend/wife at every port.
Myths About Merchant Navy – Seafarers have a wife at every port

The only reason seafarers are interpreted as inherently disloyal! There was a time when a sailor was greeted in ports with several women to choose from. But that does not happen nowadays. It was decades ago! However, over time, with the advent of security regulations, the International Ship and Port Security Facility (ISPS) code, and other security measures, this will become a thing of the past. Combined with the possibility of ruining health and life at home, we have a purely fictional and incorrect idea of a sailor’s entertainment in port.

It is undeniable that services can be found anywhere in the world if you search, but that is for everyone, and it is not limited to seafarers. A new country, a new port offers a wealth of sights and experiences. Also, no one understands the value of a relationship as well as the loyalty which goes with it more than a sailor. The absence of loved ones does not weaken ties, but rather shows the need and strengthens them. Unlike others, sailors know the true feeling of someone special waiting at home.

C) Seafarers Often Deal With Pirates

Myths about merchant navy - Seafarers often deal with pirates
Myths About Merchant Navy – Seafarers often deal with pirates

You might have seen those famous Hollywood movies like Captain Phillips and Pirates of the Caribbean. And yes, the first one is closer to a truthful representation of such an encounter. We also know that he is aware of and concerned about the increasing number of pirates in Somalia. But not all the seas in the world are full of pirates! Piracy is observed only in certain parts of the world. It is also not mandatory that a pirate attack is guaranteed in these parts of the world.

If security measures are not fully implemented and wrong decisions are made, only pirates have a chance to address them. However, gradually, with the arrival of the armed guards, it becomes much more difficult and dangerous for the pirates. However, as a safety measure, sailors still have to get by with water hoses and barbed wire. But that does not mean that seafarers deal with pirates every day and everywhere. Hence, we can say that piracy is not a serious threat, but pirates are a problem, especially when navigating in areas where piracy is highest.

D) Merchant Navy Professionals Need to Be Great Swimmers

Myths about merchant navy - Merchant Navy professionals need to be great 
Myths About Merchant Navy – Seafarers need to be great swimmers

People get the idea that being a good swimmer is important when you work for vessels or for a job that involves traveling across oceans to save others in the event of a mishap. The truth is, you don’t have to be a swimmer to qualify for that position. Even if you are an expert swimmer, you cannot save people and swim for hours to cross the ocean. There are numerous safety measures
such as lifeboats and life jackets that are used in the event of an accident. So in the Merchant Marine, there is practically no difference between being a good swimmer or a bad swimmer. So, swimming isn’t necessary and you can apply without hesitation.

E) Seafarers Get Their Regular Salary on Land

Seafarers get their regular salary on land
Myths About Merchant Navy – seafarers are paid on land

Two types of shipping companies are broadly classified in the shipping industry. One offers year-round salaries and another offers short-term contracts. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages. For the companies offering year-round salaries mean the company offers a year-round salary, whether you’re at home or on the vessel. However, the salary is usually averaged according to industry standards. They have fixed contracts like 4 months and 2 months off and so on. You also have other advantages.

These types of contracts are generally offered by highly owned companies and are good for seafarers looking for long-term employment and not concerned with publicity issues as promotions are very slow. In the other type of employment, however, you are only paid for the time you have worked in the company. After that, you will no longer receive any salary. But the salary is high compared to others and you are not permanently affiliated with any company. After the contract ends, you can stay home as long as you like.

There is no 6-month water, 6-month land rule. It is according to your suitability. You can go to the same company or to a different company with a new employment contract after your vacation is over. Therefore, you will not receive any salary after signing your contract. With a salary throughout the year, you will only receive a salary for a certain period of time during your vacation.


Sailing is a permanent job
Myths about merchant navy – Sailing is a permanent job

Most companies hire seafarers on the basis of year-round contracts with regular working hours. The contract specifies the number of months you have worked for the respective company. The contract period can last from 4 months to 9 months, depending on the rank and type of vessel you are working upon. You will receive money based on your work and the indicated duration. Once your contract expires, you will need to find another company offering contracts as the old company is no longer responsible for providing jobs/contractors. You get about the same range of money at every business you explore. Hence sailing on merchant’s vessels is a contractual job, not a permanent one.


Seafarers earn huge amounts of money
Myths about merchant navy – Seafarers earn a lot of money

Anyone who searches on the Internet and in the newspapers will have no shortage of advertisements exaggerating the salary packages that a newly recruited sailor earns on merchant marine ships at sea. Many have no idea how the ship works, they think that the sailors have a lot of time to drink, travel and relax. At first, it will not be an easy solution. It takes around 3 to 5 years to get a good salary package and more than 12 years to reach the highest position and pocket the highest salary package. However, the fact is that seafarers are one of the hardest working people in the world and face serious problems every day onboard.


Seafarers have a glamorous life and get to visit new 
Myths about merchant navy – seafarers have a glamorous life

“Oh! You are in the Merchant Marine. You have a glamorous life and get to travel so much!” Certainly one of the most common thinking of people who have not been associated with the Merchant Marine. Times have drastically changed, and so have business patterns. Ports nowadays are fast and efficient, leaving little or no time for land clearance.

Very large crude carriers(VLCC) sometimes don’t even make it to port. Bulk carriers are probably the only ships that have the luxury of being in port for a few days because of their unloading process. There is a lot of work onboard the ships and at the end of the day, the sailors are exhausted after completing all kinds of tasks and need a lot of rest. Due to the early emptying in ports, there are numerous restrictions on land permission, so there is little to no time to enjoy it. Just because seafarers are visiting new ports and countries does not mean that they have the luxury or the ability to move. So, getting to visit new countries every time is definitely a myth.


Seafarers can take their families onboard anytime they
want to

This myth has two sides, that is, you cannot take your family on board immediately after your training as an officer. You can take your family with you in managerial positions. While many companies have a “no family” policy, some ships allow senior officers (captain, chief officer, chief engineer, and second engineer) to bring their families on board. But sadly, to lower costs, companies are gradually removing these privileges as these facilities become scarce as companies try to minimize their operating costs.


 Seafarers are undereducated fools and dont do anything
at sea

Many people think that you don’t need a lot of education to go to the sea. But the fact being is that all ranks, including the ship’s crew, must be well informed, educated, and trained in theory and practice. It’s a different game for officers! Studies on the merchant marine have become very intense. Topics must be permanently registered in the brain. Those who have completed 3 years BSc in
nautical science or 4 years BTech in marine engineering know very clearly what they have to go through. Therefore, it is very out of place to suppose that sailors are buffoons without knowledge of their trade.

So in conclusion, we would like to say that, if you want to find out what is true and what is false, you need to do a little research before applying for the job you want. Ask your friends as well as the veteran sailors if they know of someone who is already in the profession.

Seafarers need to work very hard in the harshest weather conditions and risk their lives. Therefore, it is important that ordinary people are well informed about the merchant marine and life at sea; Because without seafarers, the entire world’s economy would come to a standstill! Have fun reading!

Disclaimer :- The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Merchant Navy Decoded. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided and disclaim any responsibility for it. Data and visuals used are sourced from publicly available information and may not be authenticated by any regulatory body. Reviews and comments appearing on our blogs represent the opinions of individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of Merchant Navy Decoded. We are not responsible for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on these reviews or comments.

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Pragnesh Chavan

Thank you, Sir, for the Information.


Join in mechant navy do job in sea is my future life

Harsh Koshta

Thank you

Shubham chavarekar

Thank you sir for the more information


That’s a really informative and in-depth post!

Jyoti Naidu

Great write up! Truly depicting the true scenerio of the seafarers. But i also want to add something that seafarers are always seasick which a clear myth.<a href= “
” title=”Merchant Navy Myths”>Myths</a>


Can someone guide me I’m interested in joining the merchant Navy but I’m not sure about the path to join it


Thanks sir