Shippers Guide is the learning page of MMS Plus. Here we answer the five W’s and H of several issues in the shipping industry. This week’s edition focuses on the Merchant Navy, highlighting reasons why you should pick a career in the profession as well as its history and challenges in Nigeria.
If you’ve considered going to sea – not with the Navy, but as a Merchant Mariner, you may already have the skills that can help you get a job as a merchant seaman, one of the civilian seafarers who man the freighters, tankers and oil field support vessels that fly the nation’s flag. A career in merchant navy is a unique blend of variety encompassed in a single domain. By opting for a merchant navy career, individuals can combine a lot of different facets and gain a lot of exposure which would be difficult to gain otherwise. Here are ten (10) of such points which make merchant navy careers so singular and completely unlike any:
A very big incentive for anyone to take up a profession is the allure of pay-packages and salaries. The merchant navy offers extremely high payment scales, even for fresh entrants in the profession, starting at about US$ 1,500 and extending up to about US$ 2,000 on a monthly basis. The payment scales are set as per the existing IMO (International Maritime Organisation) and ILO (International Labour Organisation) laws.
Additionally, the salary in the merchant navy also varies from company to company and on the basis of the qualification and the position held by an individual.
Paying taxes is a responsibility that everyone is wary of. However, people involved in the merchant marines are exempted from paying taxes, if they meet the requirements necessary for exemption purposes. A merchant marine professional has to spend a minimum of six months on-duty aboard a vessel, following which the professional will be exempt from paying tax for the specified financial year.
People involved in the merchant marines get to experience exotic destinations across the whole world. And since jobs in the merchant navy require an individual to spend extended periods of time at sea, there is no dearth of time when it comes to exploring these singular destinations.
Confluence of Cultures: A professional involved in a merchant marine career gets to meet and mingle with people of different cultures and nationalities. This helps the individual to understand and function better as a team player and learn the nuances of different cultures and traditions at the same time.
Working in the merchant navy enables individuals to function better as a unit. Merchant mariners are required to possess good communication skills and extreme resourcefulness, along with following and maintaining high discipline. These qualities are further honed when a person spends a considerable amount of time functioning as a part of a novel team in the high seas. A person not only evolves professionally but also personally while working in the merchant navy.
Merchant navy careers offer a lot of exposure to unexpected events, situations and emergencies. By facing such unmitigated events, professionals gain a widespread knowledge about dealing and facing such problems, in the event of them arising again. The exposure one gets in this field is unlike anywhere else and which helps a person to grow in every aspect.
A career in merchant marines is like having adventures on a day-to-day basis. It’s an adventurous life out there. Other routine jobs, involve people having to spend nine hours in an office. This is not for people who like nine-to-five jobs. Merchant mariners get to explore and view the excellent oceanic vista for days on end which, acts as inspiration unlike any. Not only this, the situations which one faces at sea provide experiences of utmost adventurous types.
A career in merchant navy can be taken up immediately after clearing the high school examinations with subjects like physics and mathematics. For individuals who do not want to gain higher college education or cannot do so because of certain reasons, taking up a merchant marine career is the most feasible choice. Not only does it provide good pay but also help in moulding a better career. Having said that, there are career in the merchant navy that require high qualifications as well.
Punctuality and discipline are two very important qualities that a person gains through a merchant marine career. Since the oceans are highly unpredictable, a seaman has to be highly cautious, focused and alert to counter any eventuality, thereby reducing the repercussions substantially. These two qualities are imbibed in maritime professionals right from their college training. The professionals are expected to follow a strict disciplined lifestyle according to navy rules and are also required to wear navy uniforms throughout their careers. In case you are a uniform fan, a maritime career is an exciting option for you.
Since the nature of the job requires long working periods, the vacations offered to merchant marine professionals are equally compensating. This enables these professionals to enjoy the best of both worlds – land and water. A 2-4 months vacation is definitely long enough to unwind and follow all your passions, isn’t it?
People with unbridled enthusiasm and zest for life can very well opt for a merchant marine career. It would be satiating without the person ever experiencing any regrets whatsoever in his profession of choice.
Merchant Navy in Nigeria
The quasi-military Nigerian Marine Department was established in 1914 and cooperated with the Royal Navy in capturing Cameroon in the First World War. The Nigerian Navy came into official existence in 1956, staffed by 200 people from the Marine Department, with the tasks of mine-sweeping, ports examination and naval control services. The Nigerian Marine Training School, established in April 1952, provided basic training in seamanship to the Navy, Merchant Navy, Inland Waterways Department and Nigerian Ports Authority.
The Nigerian National Shipping Line was established by the Nigerian government in 1959. Despite heavy investment and subsidies, the state-owned company was unable to compete with European lines. Much of the investment went to enriching the political elite.
Although the Nigerian Merchant Navy has a long history, it is not a legally recognized body. The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) undertook an investigation in 2007 after hearing that President Olusegun Obasanjo had authorized the establishment of a Nigeria Merchant Navy Corps. In November 2007 the Director General of NIMASA said in a letter to Presidency that “the so-called Nigerian Merchant Navy is not known in the law establishing the NIMASA (NIMASA ACT 2007) nor the Nigerian Merchant Shipping Act 2007 that delegated the function of the Maritime Safety Administration to NIMASA.