A career in the Merchant Navy is often overlooked, misunderstood or simply appears too difficult to get into. It just doesn’t have the brand presence of the Royal Navy.

There are, in fact, several local businesses whose sole purpose is to provide the necessary training for three main roles in the Merchant Navy:

Deck Officer: responsible for running the ship, navigation, safety etc eventually leading to Master (Captain).

Engineer Officer: responsible for the running and maintenance of the vessel, machinery and all the various mechanical and electrical systems on board, leading to Chief Engineer.

Electrotechnical Officer: responsible as an electrician on board, will be concerned with the day-to-day electrical systems, and also the large power distribution network, high voltage (over 1000V) systems, switchboards etc.

The above roles come with internationally recognised qualifications. The training is similar to an apprenticeship, a paid, three-year cadetship which is a sandwich course of college phases at a nautical college, and sea phases, where the cadet lives on board a vessel (or several vessels) and gains the necessary hands-on experience to meet the minimum requirement of seagoing time before sitting various exams to achieve their first certificate of competency. With that, a newly qualified officer can expect good rates of pay and find themselves discovering the world.

For those who may wish to stay a little closer to home, or may not achieve the higher grades, there are schemes locally which allow a young person to obtain similar qualifications to the above, but for what is known in the industry as a ‘small boats license’. The only real difference is they have a limitation of size of vessel, or how far from land they can operate. With that said, Serco has two seagoing vessels to which this applies, and they regularly make Atlantic crossings.

Serco boast a successful programme of apprenticeships allowing people to access the industry as a deck hand, with the potential to develop to Master, driving tugs around the harbour assisting the Royal Navy with their operations in and around the port.

The Merchant Navy is often misunderstood with students unaware of the number of roles available; there are opportunities in the Merchant Navy for hotel services, catering, hairdressers, spa and beauty care, childcare, retail, the arts and much more!

PLEASE FOLLOW THE LINKS BELOW TO ACCESS MORE INFORMATION ON THE TYPE OF CAREERS AND APPRENTICESHIPS ON OFFER: also has links to engineer and ETO a local company that manages cadets from employment through to qualification a wealth of information regarding access to the merchant navy

Below is the employer's apprenticeship programme. Please read for more information leading to careers in small boat master, or tug master.

Serco AB Deck Apprenticeship