Marine engineering is a discipline in which professional engineers are engaged in the design, development and repair of ships, vehicles and systems used in water. A career in marine engineering can be described as demanding, thrilling, a bit of an adventure and a great way to make a living.
My career ambition is to serve with the army in a small duty officer program and become a seagoing Chief Engineer. The path to becoming a chief engineer is somehow long; a chief marine engineer is responsible for the operation and maintenance of all engine room and most machinery onboard a vessel. To achieve this rank one must obtain a Class 1 Certificate of Competency in marine engineering.
A significant amount of time has to be invested in acquiring the education to serve as a marine engineer. The International Convention by the International Maritime Organization, Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers out the minimum requirements for engineering officers. Good health and eyesight are mandatory requirements governed by the STCW code. Completion of a foundation bachelor’s degree in marine engineering is the first step to becoming a qualified marine engineer. It is a mandatory requirement that all seafarers do basic safety courses STCW 95 before sailing.
Enlisting onboard a ship is the next step at the rank of engineer cadet. The junior marine engineer follows a structured training program and keeps records in his official training and record book for a minimum period of 12 months. After a successful completion of onboard training, the cadet is eligible for marine class (IV) competency exam. STCW 2010 (Manila Amendments) have new training requirements before Certificates of Competency are issued. Class IV or Engineer Officer of the Watch candidates are required to complete a course in Human Element and Leadership at the operational level. Second and Chief engineer candidates are required to complete the same course at the management level. Other STCW requirements are the successful completion of courses in advanced firefighting, medical first aid, and proficiency in survival crafts and rescue boats.
The award of the Class IV or Class III Certificate of Competency will allow one to serve as 4th or 3rd engineer depending on the experience acquired or promotion. For certification, every candidate ought to have performed engine room watchkeeping for not less than 12 months in a seagoing ship’s engine department of propulsion power of 3000kW or more. To rise to the rank of the 2nd engineer, one has to acquire the Marine Engineers Class II certificate of competency. A minimum approved sea time of 12 months is required working as an engineer officer. For certification as a chief engineer officer, a minimum qualifying sea service of not less than 36 months is required. This sea service shall include a minimum of 12 months sea time as a holder of a certificate of competency Class II. After passing the Marine Engineer Class I exams, one becomes a chief engineer.
Marine engineering is a dynamic field that keeps changing as new technologies are introduced into the sector. The International Maritime Organization also set rules and minimum standards for the maritime industry. All marine engineers will require to keep up to date with the latest legislation and technologies. Steel remains a dominant force in shipbuilding, new technologies such as microscale or Nano-scale manipulation are used to strengthen welds. There is a possibility that robotics will gain momentum in the maritime industry. Robots may be deployed in areas with harsh conditions such as enclosed spaces during inspections. The Damen shipyard recently launched a 3D printed ship propeller in collaboration with Autodesk, Promarin and Bureau Veritas. Sensor technologies will also make the marine engineer’s job easier. The need for regular visits to remote locations can be reduced. The monitoring devices will be able to collect data and relay it in real time. This data can be used to enhance the maintenance cycles of machinery using condition-based monitoring.
A shore-based job is an option for consideration after many years of sailing. There is a demand for experienced personnel in the shore-based maritime industry. The seagoing experience is a valued asset, and the marine engineer can easily blend into such jobs such as in hotels, port organizations and even in shipping companies.
Bard, Jenni. “From Ship to Shore.” Maritime Recruiter – Flagship Management, 25 Sept. 2015, www.flagshipmgt.com/2015/09/25/from-ship-to-shore/.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Marine Engineers and Naval Architects, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/marine-engineers-and-naval-architects.htm
Peters, Gary. “Shipping 2030: Technologies That Will Transform the Industry.” Ship Technology, 9 Feb. 2016, www.ship-technology.com/features/featureshipping-2030-technologies-that-will-transform-the-industry-4716366/.