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Things You Should Know About Aviation Department

You’re far from home, sailing the high seas on a merchant ship. The rolling waves surround you for miles with no land in sight. Then, disaster strikes. You’re injured or fall seriously ill. Help seems impossibly far away. Who comes to your rescue? The ship’s Medical Department – your lifeline in the middle of the ocean. This dedicated team of doctors, nurses and technicians is responsible for the crew’s health, safety and wellbeing throughout long voyages across the globe.

They treat everything from seasickness and sunburn to serious accidents and medical emergencies. It’s a tough and critical job, with limited resources compared to land-based hospitals. But they skillfully adapt to the challenges of practicing medicine at sea, driven by their commitment to care for the crew.

 Their ability to promote health, resolve crises and provide mental health support makes them essential for successful ship operations. The Merchant Navy Medical Department – your skilled guardians of health on the high seas.

Critical Roles and Responsibilities of the Medical Department in the Merchant Navy

Deck Officers

The Aviation department is headed by the Chief Officer (CO) who oversees the ship’s cargo operations and deck crew. Working under the CO are Deck Officers – responsible for navigating and maneuvering the ship. They also supervise the deck crew handling cargo and passenger operations.

Engine Officers

Below deck, the Engineering department is led by the Chief Engineer (CE) who manages the ship’s engine and mechanical operations. The CE oversees Engine Officers and crew responsible for operating and maintaining the propulsion plant and support systems like electrical power, water, and ventilation.


The largest group is the Ratings – entry-level crew members who assist both Deck and Engine Officers. Deck Ratings handle cargo, assist passengers, maintain the ship’s exterior, and stand watch. Engine Ratings operate and repair engine equipment under the guidance of Engine Officers.

Staff Officers

Finally, Staff Officers handle administrative functions like payroll, purchasing, and personnel issues. The heads of the Deck, Engine, and Staff departments report directly to the ship’s Master who commands the overall vessel.

With a clear chain of command and division of responsibilities, the Aviation department works as a well-oiled machine to transport cargo and passengers across the high seas. Teamwork and competence are key to the safe and efficient operation of these massive merchant ships.

Challenges Faced by the Medical Department at Sea

The Medical Department faces unique challenges while working far away from advanced medical facilities at sea. They have access to only basic medical equipment and a small medical facility, which limits their resources compared to most hospitals on land. Although well-stocked, their supplies are limited, and the SMO and nurses must get creative to properly diagnose and treat the crew, especially for complex medical issues.

Being at sea means that the crew can be days away from the nearest port, which makes medevacs difficult to coordinate, and specialist consultations are near impossible. During this time, the Medical Department is solely responsible for the crew’s health and must be highly skilled in emergency medicine to handle any situation.

Long voyages and confined living quarters often lead to psychological strain, which causes mental health challenges. The Medical Department provides mental health support to help the crew cope with isolation, stress, and depression. However, their resources for counseling and therapy are limited, and they rely on building trust and rapport to help crew members through difficult times.

The Medical Department encounters diverse healthcare beliefs and approaches to treatment due to the crew coming from various countries. They must remain culturally sensitive while following best medical practices. Each port visit requires adapting to different healthcare systems when transporting crew members for emergency care or hospitalization. This demands flexibility and a broad understanding of global health practices.

In summary, the Medical Department plays a vital role in supporting the crew’s well-being at sea, and they face significant challenges while doing so. However, by drawing on their training, expertise, and ability to adapt, they are able to overcome obstacles and provide quality care to everyone onboard. Their dedication is crucial to the safety of every voyage.

Eligibility and Training Required to Join the Medical Department of the Merchant Navy

To join the Medical Department, you’ll need to meet certain requirements and complete specialized training. The good news is that maritime medicine offers a rewarding career path for healthcare professionals looking for an exciting challenge.


To become a Shipboard Medical Officer (SMO), you must be a licensed doctor with experience in general practice or emergency medicine. Registered nurses and medical technicians typically require recognized qualifications and work experience in their field. Some training institutions may accept candidates with nursing or paramedic degrees.

Maritime Medical Training

All medical personnel must complete mandatory safety courses and become certified in maritime medicine. This includes training in shipboard emergency response, tropical diseases, and medical care in remote settings. Many SMOs and nurses also pursue diplomas in maritime medicine to strengthen their knowledge and skills.

Fitness Requirements

Working at sea can be physically demanding, so medical staff must meet certain fitness standards. This typically involves passing a medical exam, vision and hearing tests, and demonstrating you can handle the physical challenges of ship life. Some companies may require additional fitness assessments for more senior medical roles.

Advantages of Maritime Medicine

While the job comes with big responsibilities, maritime medicine offers rewarding opportunities for personal and professional growth. You’ll gain experience treating health issues in diverse populations, work with cutting-edge medical technology, and the chance to travel the world. The job also provides competitive pay, benefits and opportunities for career progression within the Merchant Navy.

If you’re up for a challenging career that makes a real difference, consider joining the Medical Department. They provide an essential service that allows international shipping and trade to thrive. With the right qualifications and dedication, you can play your part in this important work.

You now know the ins and outs of the merchant navy’s indispensable medical department. From providing routine healthcare to handling dire emergencies, they are the crew’s lifeline at sea. Their job isn’t easy – between limited resources and remote locations, they face unique challenges. But their impact is immense.

By keeping sailors fit for duty and responding quickly in crises, they enable successful voyages across vast oceans. Respect these unsung heroes who confront isolation and adversity to protect the health and safety of crews far from home. Without their care and expertise, the merchant navy could not fulfill its vital role in global commerce and trade.


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