What is a Marine Engineer?

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Marine engineer refers to the operation, maintenance, and monitoring of mechanical systems on ships such as boats, ships, and submarines. This profession involves the application of various engineering fields, such as computer science, electrical engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering. Marine engineers typically study marine engineering and are responsible for some or all of the major mechanical and engineering systems on board a ship. This includes systems related to power generation, propulsion, fuel, air conditioning, lighting, water distillation, lubrication, electrical and electronic components, etc. Work locations also include onboard ships, so engineers in this profession typically need to be able to work at sea, including for long periods of time, depending on the role and the employer’s requirements.

What Does A Marine Engineer Do?

A marine engineer is responsible for operating, supervising, and maintaining mechanical systems onboard a ship, apart from related field duties. The job of a marine engineer is similar to that of other engineers in that mechanical systems must be maintained under control to ensure proper functioning. This includes record keeping and maintenance planning, as well as responding to emergency breakdowns and repairs. As a marine engineer, you may work as part of a larger engineering team, sometimes under the direction of a chief engineer. Of course, working at sea adds a completely different dimension to this job. These technicians may also be involved in tasks such as bunkering, where fuel oil is transferred from bunker stations or barges to larger ships. 

Additionally, the Marine engineer also presents unique challenges for marine engineers, including saltwater corrosion, hydrodynamic and hydromechanical forces, extreme temperatures, and the remote location of some project sites. In the late 19th century, the introduction of ship propulsion revolutionized Marine engineering, and as technology advanced, the job changed from that of a steamship “stoker” to that of a full-fledged marine engineer. Technological advances continue today with the introduction of technologies such as fuel cells. In addition to managing the operation and maintenance of machinery onboard ocean-going vessels, Marine engineer also oversee areas such as: 

1. Antifouling 

This includes the removal of marine organisms that may clog critical parts and components. This can be achieved through electrochlorination, which passes a high electrical current through seawater, changing the water’s chemical composition and removing biological material. In electrolytic antifouling, an electric current is passed between a copper and aluminum anode. Copper releases ions into the water, creating a toxic environment that kills biological materials, while aluminum coats the inside of pipes to prevent corrosion (see below). For example, other techniques for removing mussels and algae from ship hulls include special paints that prevent these microorganisms from colonizing and multiplying.

2. Cavitation 

Cavitation occurs when air bubbles form in a liquid due to an area of ​​low pressure. Low pressure lowers the boiling point of the liquid, which can evaporate into gas and damage the pump and other components. Cavitation also occurs on the propeller surface, causing small, violent implosions that can damage the blades. By using more rotor blades, it is possible to achieve the same propulsion force at lower speeds without the risk of cavitation. The use of multiple rotor blades is particularly useful for submarines, as they allow propulsion while still producing noise.

3. Corrosion 

Marine engineer must deal with the problem of surface corrosion due to saltwater environments. This can be addressed by cathodic protection, which uses other metals as sacrificial anodes to corrode in place of the hull, or by running a low direct current through the hull to change the charge and delay the onset of electrochemical corrosion.

4. Emissions 

Marine engineer may be responsible for managing ship emissions to prevent increases in atmospheric and ocean acidity, which can harm marine life.

5. Hydrodynamic Loads 

Just as civil engineers need to consider wind loads, marine engineers also need to assess the effects of wind and waves on ships and submarines.

6. Draining oil and water  

Oil and water accumulate on the bottom of the ship. This mixture of material, known as “bilge”, must be pumped overboard, but before it can be discharged, it must pass a 15 ppm threshold test. Engineers test this bilge water and separate the oil from the liquid until it passes the test and can be discharged from the ship.

7. Stability 

Naval architects are concerned with designing ships that can withstand the forces of water and air. However, it is the ship’s Engineer’s job to ensure that this stability is maintained as cargo is added. Stacking containers higher not only increases the ship’s mass but also increases its center of gravity. Fuel can also cause imbalances due to tilting or shifting of the fluid. This can be addressed by using water in the ballast tanks to balance the weight of the fuel.

Related Fields 

There are many fields related to marine engineering. Some of these may be confused with the work of a marine engineer, others require the assistance of a marine engineer, and some of these fields may be classified as ‘marine engineering.’ These related areas include: 

1. Civil Engineering 

Although not directly related to marine engineering, civil engineering concepts are an important part of the design of marine infrastructure, such as bridges, ports, and tunnels. These concepts play an important role in marine engineering (see below) and are often included as part of marine engineering.

2. Electrical Engineering And Robotics 

Marine engineering can incorporate aspects of these disciplines, for example, when performing work with unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) or laying underwater cables.

3. Mechanical Engineering 

Shipbuilding is closely related to mechanical engineering because mechanical engineers are responsible for the design of many shipboard systems, such as propulsion, control, ventilation, cargo handling, anchorage, power, and external communications. Marine engineers, on the other hand, are responsible for installing, operating, maintaining, and monitoring these systems. Marine engineers need to understand many topics in mechanical engineering, including fluid mechanics and mechanics, structural mechanics, material strength, and more.

4. Naval Architectural Design 

Naval Architects deal with the design of ships and their means of propulsion. Them and marine engineers may work together, but while naval architects deal with construction engineering (often using computer-aided design programs), marine engineering focuses on operations. There is a difference.

5. Marine Engineering 

This field of engineering is often categorized under the umbrella of “marine engineering,” especially outside of the United States. However, the difference is that marine engineering is about systems on board ships, whereas marine engineering is about structures and systems adjacent to or within the ocean itself. Marine engineering projects include offshore platforms, wave energy systems, underwater life support systems, ports, piers, and more. This includes offshore drilling operations and oil platforms. Marine and marine engineering deals with many similar engineering fields, such as fluid mechanics and mechanics.

6. Oceanography 

This scientific field deals with the collection and analysis of data related to the ocean. Marine engineers use this data in their work.

Types Of Marine Engineering Careers 

Humans have been traveling the oceans for thousands of years, but the origins of modern marine engineering systems can be traced back to the First Industrial Revolution and the development of the steam-powered engine. The most common job for a marine engineer is working on a merchant navy or armed navy ship. However, marine engineers can also work in the manufacture of marine equipment and machinery or as teachers or tutors in training institutions.

Where Do Marine Engineers Work?

As mentioned above, most marine engineers find work on ships. Depending on your training, expertise, and interests, this could include everything from aircraft carriers and tankers to container ships, passenger ships, and even tugs and barges. Whether in the Coast Guard, commercial, or military, life on a ship can be physically and mentally demanding. Depending on the size of the ship, marine engineers can work alone or in teams in the engine room.

Work is typically divided into shift schedules, but additional maintenance requirements may occur. And these technicians may be required to assist in emergencies. Most marine engineers are employed as part of a ship’s crew on a contract basis, with contract length and pay varying depending on experience and rank. The need for marine engineers will continue to grow, mainly because global markets are dependent on shipping, with  80% of world trade by volume (70% by value) being carried out via ships.

How To Become A Marine Engineer 

Most marine engineers have a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering, marine systems engineering, or marine engineering. However, obtaining an engineering degree from a university. Is not the only route into this profession; others can also complete training or strive for a position in another profession. Whichever route you choose, hands-on training is invaluable, and gaining a qualification can help you find a job. Apprenticeship and university courses have unique entry requirements depending on the institution, company and location. 

However, it is possible to join an organization such as the Merchant Navy. Or the Royal Navy and earn a degree in marine engineering. Many shipping companies offer apprenticeship sponsorships, allowing you to earn a degree at a top nautical university and gain valuable work experience while paying your tuition fees. Obtaining a relevant degree is not the end of your journey but rather the first step in your career. You usually start as a junior engineer to gain experience. You can then start stepping up from 5th Engineer through the ranks of 4th Engineer, 3rd Engineer, 2nd Engineer, and on to Principal Engineer.

Marine Technician Salary 

Marine Technician salary ranges vary depending on experience, rank, employer, and type of vessel you work on. For example, as of May 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Lists the average annual wage for marine engineers as $93,370. However, the UK’s National Careers Service offers a more conservative estimate of annual salaries for marine engineers of between £24,000 and £55,000. However, other sources cite higher wages for more experienced engineers.


Marine engineers operate, maintain, monitor, and repair mechanical systems aboard all types of vessels. These professionals typically serve in the Merchant Navy or the Armed Forces. Working alone or, more commonly, in teams with other technicians. Marine engineers draw on knowledge from other engineering disciplines. Particularly mechanical engineering, but must also consider the unique challenges associated with the marine environment. 

Therefore, it is important for marine engineers not only to have technical knowledge but also to have knowledge of issues. And laws related to environmental protection and safety. Marine engineering can be a physically demanding job that allows you to work in all weather conditions. And requires you to spend time away from home. However, not all marine engineers spend their careers on board ships. Using their knowledge and experience to help build ships, train others, or work in related fields such as marine engineering or shipbuilding. They may also be hired to provide consulting services.

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