What is a Day in the Life of an Onboard Marine Engineer?

Onboard Marine Engineer - Merchant Navy Info

“As seafarers, Onboard Marine Engineer; it’s like our work and living space. It’s like  home to us; we travel through different oceans and around the world. We sail to different places. In general, a ship is a place of work and a home.” Ali said in an interview with Maritime Fairtrade for .

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Onboard Marine Engineer are “responsible for all mechanical and electrical systems. Required for the safe operation of a vessel,” Ali said.  Mr. Ali said each vessel has a main engine, generator, purifier, compressor, fresh water generator, salt treatment plant for drinking water. Oil-water separator in accordance with IMO regulations, steam plant for cargo heating, and Equipped with auxiliary machinery. Propulsion and power plants, and air conditioning systems. The size of certain components, such as boilers, may vary from ship to ship depending on the ship’s needs. The Chief Onboard Marine Engineer is at the top of the hierarchy as the head of the technical department. This position is followed by his second Engineer. Who is responsible for the machinery in the engine room and other parts of the ship. 

Onboard Marine Engineer , the one Ali is currently working with. Is responsible for power plants, generators, boilers/steam rooms, and in some cases, freshwater generators. The fourth Engineer is responsible for cleaning auxiliary systems, compressors, pumps, and all associated piping. She will have four officers on board, including the captain, second Engineer, and third Engineer. Although less common these days, some ships still have an apprentice engineer, also known as a fifth engineer. This is followed by a crew consisting of an oiler and a qualified electrician, the so-called electrician. The electrician is also the radio officer responsible for communications between the ship and the shore.

Lack of Work-Life Balance

Work Life Balance - Merchant Navy Info

As the third Engineer, Ali begins working in the engine room from midnight to 4 a.m. Along with the oiler on deck and her two other sailors. Four sailors take turns controlling the ship. Ali then “hands over the clock” to his second Engineer, who takes over the 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. shift. A fourth technician will take over duty from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Security duties would then be handed over to Ali at noon. Where he would be on duty for another four hours until 4 p.m.

The senior Onboard Marine Engineer does not report for security duties. But he is available 24 hours a day in case of unexpected situations. During the break, Ali “fell asleep”. Ali said that during the first few days of work on a new ship, seafarers go through a “hectic routine to understand how things work on board” and get used to the job.

Ali said the “experienced staff” will be on the job in about 10 to 15 days. However, “it takes about a month to get used to (and understand) new people and a new environment.” It takes time to find out what’s missing. Ali spent his first month processing the handover from the previous crew in order to “get a completely clear picture.” You’ll know which machines need attention first and which ones can run for the next two to three months without any problems. Because those machines are “in working order” and can wait as long as you like. Ali said that the Engineer’s responsibility was to “restore the entire ship and machinery to normal working order.” Therefore, during this whole month, the sailors have to spend extra time on rest.


One would think that after Ali completed two four-hour shifts, he would be relieved of duty for the remainder of his time on board. When asked if crew members were able to maintain a good work-life balance on board, Ali firmly answered, “No.” When a problem arises, he realizes that he can’t just take the attitude, “I’m done with four hours, so I’m going to take  a break.” The fact that they are in the ocean and “there is only God at the top, sharks at the bottom, and us in the middle” means that “in the open sea we are at our own rescue.” Ali said. Therefore, in the event of an emergency, the entire crew must be present. 

From a professional point of view, Ali said  it is not a good idea to “postpone work until the next day.” As his third Engineer in charge of the power plant, “he doesn’t have one generator, he has two or three.” We need to prepare those generators. One is working, one is in standby mode, and the last one is empty. It’s very important to have all three workings properly because you never know when you’ll need them. If a collision or serious accident occurs and power is not ready, lives can be lost. 

Love For the Sea

Love at Sea - Merchant Navy Info

Throughout his career, Ali has seen countless beautiful sunrises and sunsets in different countries. According to Ali, these sights were thousands of times more breathtaking in person than on postcards. “I like being by the sea. I like the environment,” Ali said nostalgically when asked about the joys of being a sailor. In addition to her love of the ocean, Ali enjoys the fact that she gets to meet new crew members, learn from them, and experience new environments and places. She also has a good salary. `When I go home at the end of the day,  I have enough money for myself and my girlfriend’s family.” However, Ali says, `Since 2010, my salary has increased significantly because of the increased workload.”

I don’t think so.” She said she was not clear on the situation in Singapore but was confident there would be “more work and very little growth” from the Middle East’s big oil companies. Oil trading has become more expensive, and company owners, shipowners, and charterers are making money, but when it comes to the crew, operators, and people on board, they don’t save a dime. Due to stagnant and rising wages, the workload is too much, and  Ali said, “I know people who would like to switch to something simpler or  natural gas trading.” LNG and LPG trading is “low maintenance,” which means “new ships and less work,” which means “more downtime.” 

Calm in the Storm

Calm in the Storm

Everything I saw on Google, I experienced it,” Ali says with a smile when asked about her most memorable experience as a sailor. Ta. “We were in the Indian Ocean, heading towards South Africa. It was monsoon season, and the wind and rain were strong. “For four days, the ship ran at full speed (rpm), but the wind, currents, and forces prevented her from moving an inch.”  Ant imitated the motion of a coaster with her jet, running at full speed reached its climax. , before plummeting straight down. Unlike the fun roller coaster ride, the rough seas had waves  30 meters high for three days. 

“We couldn’t sleep. When we slept on our left side, the waves would come and turn us on our right side,” Ali said, recalling how many times he fell out of bed and landed on his right side. Laughed on the ground. e ended up sleeping on the floor. “I can’t eat. hat I eat comes out.” “Everyone was seasick except me, including the chief engineer,” said Ali, who worked extra hours as a nurse and helped the crew. It was taken care of. He said: “I said, ‘Okay, go over there,’ and she picked him up and put him on a chair or a stretcher.  For Ali, this turbulent experience became an unforgettable story, as it was a “pretty difficult time.”

Rank Promotion

Rank Promotion

An aspiring Onboard Marine Engineer needs nine months of sea time to qualify for her COC Class 5, 4, and 3 exams. After completing the aforementioned exams, most countries require him to complete COC Class 2 or at least 12 months of sea time to complete Class 2 and Class 1 simultaneously. The COC Class 1 requirement is employment lasting at least 24-36 months, depending on state guidelines.

Starting salaries for seafarers vary depending on the company they work for, Ali said and can be “very little” or “well-paid” in others. However, as you advance in rank, your salary increases to $2,000. When you finally reach the top of Chief Engineer, the average salary increases from $12,000 per month to $15,000 per month and up to $17,000.

The Future of Sailors

The Future of Sailors

“I’m the first sailor in my family, and I’ll be the last. The way I was raised and the way I raised the next generation are very different,” Ali said. Future generations will be “born with a silver spoon,” but that’s not the case for him. Sailing is not for the faint of heart but for those with passion and perseverance. li said, “Some people don’t like the sea,” and “We are told within the first ten days that the sea is not for us.” He added, “

There is a shortage of seafarers, and there will always be a shortage. He emphasized. Li. The war between Ukraine and Russia has created a huge gap in the demand and supply of seafarers, as these countries, along with the Philippines, produce the most seafarers. 

Ukrainians and Russians are no longer on the market, so they are in short supply. Ali concluded by saying that although he had many opportunities during his studies, he had no regrets about devoting himself to sailing. For him, his job as a marine engineer on a ship is more important than that of a typical office worker. I love my job and there is peace between me and my work,” Ali commented with a proud smile. After completing  COC Classes 2 and 1 together, Ali’s company promoted him to 2nd Engineer, putting him in charge of his entire engine room. r Ali plans to return to Singapore next year, receive his COC, and take up the role of chief Engineer by 2025, he said.

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