Support for Merchant Navy officers looking to switch ashore

12 December 2019

The option to progress to a shore-based maritime role should be a more obvious part of the Merchant Navy career structure, says master mariner Mike Wall, who is planning a two-day career guidance seminar for seafarers looking to become marine superintendents or surveyors

Throughout their seagoing careers, many officers are focused only on becoming a master or chief engineer. However, after several years of sailing in a senior rank, many look to come ashore, particularly when starting a family.

Often, officers will remain in the shipping industry by taking up positions as pilots, harbour masters, superintendents and surveyors, but a large number may be lost to other disciplines. We need to stem this flow.

Back in the early 1980s, when I was a senior lecturer at Warsash Maritime Academy, we used to have tutorial periods where the students had some private study time. Often, they would ask what they could do once they achieved their Class 1 Certificate of Competency. I would put a diagram on the board showing the ship in the centre with all the parties involved directly and indirectly with its operations. I would then summarise the roles of the various people and opportunities. Many years later, several of my ex-students remind me of how helpful this was to them.

In mid-2018, I published two articles in the Marine Society’s blog entitled Becoming a Marine Superintendent and Becoming a Marine Surveyor. The response was both welcome and unexpected, with one email a week received requesting more information on progressing to either of these positions. Everyone who responded has received an individual response suggesting a way forward and several have requested more information.

I believe the response has shown that there is not enough career guidance out there for Merchant Navy officers. To help reverse that situation, I am seeking to establish an annual two-day seminar for those who are interested.

One day will be dedicated to becoming a marine superintendent, covering Technical, Nautical, New Building, Personnel and Vetting. The other day will look at becoming one of the various types of marine surveyor, e.g. Class, Government and Independent.

If the seminar is well supported, information about becoming a marine pilot or harbour master could be added to the programme.

The seminar is intended to be a non-profit-making event with fees only charged to cover speaker and venue costs. Possible venues are London and Bangkok. Attendees will need to make their own arrangements for travel and accommodation.

Nautilus survey confirms apathy from employers over shore moves

Preliminary findings from a survey of seafarers considering swallowing the anchor found that 75% of respondents received no help with this from their company.

The research, by Nautilus International and HR Consulting, also revealed that the rank seafarers attained before moving ashore was very important when it came to securing quality employment.

‘Deck officers tend to stay at sea until they have gained their masters certificate before they move to a shore-based position,’ Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said.

The survey follows similar research undertaken by the Union in 2015.
Other initial findings show that career progression, family and
work/life balance are the main reasons people choose to move ashore; and that nearly 60% have considered returning to sea after transitioning.

Full results of the survey will be released later in 2020.


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