Is a Career as Licensed Officer in the Merchant Marine For Me?
The Merchant Marine consists of commercial ships and vessels registered in the United States. Most are privately owned and operated. While commercial vessels are not military vessels, there are some similarities. The head of the engineering department, for example, is called the Chief Engineer. Likewise, vessel masters – the Master is the person in command -- are formally addressed as "Captain". There are special laws and regulations governing merchant seamen; these laws and regulations are enforced by the U. S. Coast Guard.
Commercial vessels usually have three departments: Deck, Engine, and Steward.
A Third Assistant Engineer (motor) performs watch standing and day worker duties on all types of motor ships carrying all types of cargoes and in all locations around the world. This licensed engineer monitors the safe and efficient operation of engineering machinery, equipment and spaces, responds to emergencies, enters data in logs, and reports special events in the appropriate logs. Performs routine maintenance and repair of engine room machinery and auxiliary equipment; and observes engine room repairs and work being done by shipyard or other contractors. The 3rd AE engineering officer is the lowest officer in the engineering department. One of the most significant responsibilities is to safely and effectively perform the duties of an Officer in Charge of and Engineering Watch (OICEW). The 3rd engineer stands watch for (2)- 4 hour periods each day onboard the vessel. While standing watch the OICEW is responsible for safety of the engineering plant, monitor the engineering systems and reporting problems to the Chief Engineer IAW requirements and regulations.
Engineer officer assignments range from 30-120 days onboard followed by commensurate time off the vessel. Most AMO officers are on a 75-120 day rotation (followed by 75-120 days on vacation). The assignments and time off vary by ship and company.
Engineering officers with AMO receive excellent wages and benefits (including medical, pension, vacation, 401 K, Money Purchase Benefit and training) included through their employment. See "About AMO" and the related slideshow for more information.
Once a 3rd AE unlimited motor obtains 365 days as OICEW of appropriate size/classed vessels and any additional USCG required training and/or assessments, the individual applies to the USCG to obtain their 2nd Assistant Engineer license. Once the 2nd AE license is issued the individual is able to move up to 2nd Engineer billets with additional duties and responsibilities. This progression continues from 2nd AE to 1st AE, and from 1st AE to Chief Engineer unlimited, the highest position in the engineering department onboard.
Third Assistant Engineer monitors the safe and efficient operation of engineering machinery, equipment and spaces, enters data in logs, and reports special events in the appropriate logs. Performs routine maintenance and repair of engine room machinery and auxiliary equipment; and observes engine/fire room repairs and work being done by shipyard or other shore side facility. Incumbent must have the ability to perform assigned duties, carry out instructions safely and efficiently, and take the initiative to perform emergency duties without specific orders or instructions. Manages the cooling water treatment of main propulsion engines and auxiliary generators and any other water-cooled engineering systems. Manages potable water, testing and treatment, storage of bulk lube oil and performs routine testing of lube oils in various engineering systems. Performs machinery overhauls, dismantle machinery and equipment, effect repairs to same by replacing or fabricating components, perform subsequent reassembles, operational testing of controls, safeties, shutdowns, and place equipment in service. Participates as a lifeboat crewmember and a firefighting and emergency response team leader. Ensures that all personnel assigned to watch are aware of their duties during scheduled drills and participates in same. Reports to Chief and/or First Assistant Engineer.
This link has excellent photos of various engine rooms, engines and control rooms: http://www.shipspotting.com/gallery/search.php?search_category_1=81
US Maritime Administration- A Career Afloat website: http://www.marad.dot.gov/mariners_landing_page/a_career_afloat/a_career_afloat.htm3