The Merchant Navy in Pakistan

The term “merchant navy,” sometimes referred to as “merchant marine” or “merchant fleet,” refers to the commercial shipping industry. This industry includes a sizable fleet of ships engaged in the transportation of cargo and passengers across international sea routes. This specialised industry is vital to global trade because it makes it easier for people and goods to move around the globe.

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In this blog, brings you a complete account of the merchant navy in Pakistan. For further details, keep reading.


Composition of the Merchant Navy

The Merchant Navy is comprised of a diverse range of vessels, including: 

  • Passenger ships: Designed to transport large numbers of passengers for leisure or business travel. 
  • Cargo liners: Operate on regular schedules, carrying general cargo between specific ports. 
  • Tankers: Transport bulk liquids like oil, gas, and chemicals. 
  • Bulk carriers: Transport large quantities of dry cargo such as grain, coal, and ore. 
  • Car carriers: Specially designed ships for transporting vehicles across long distances. 
  • Container ships: The workhorses of modern shipping, carrying standardised containers holding various goods. 
  • Other specialised vessels include ships for exploration, research, and other unique purposes. 

Significance of the Merchant Fleet  

The Merchant Navy is the foundation of global trade. This sector is essential to running the world’s economies since a large amount of trade occurs along sea routes. The bulk of import and export activity would grind to a standstill without the services supplied by the Merchant Navy.  


Employees of the Merchant Navy  

The commercial shipping engines are the Merchant Navy’s ships and crews. These dedicated professionals, sailors, seafarers, or mariners ensure the safe and efficient transportation of commodities and people across the world’s oceans. 


Types of Merchant Navy Ships


a cruise ship for merchant navy

The Merchant Navy operates a broad fleet of specialised ships, all built to move various cargo or passengers effectively. Here is a summary of the eight main categories:  


Ships carrying containers

Container ships are the workhorses of the modern transportation industry. They transport large volumes of cargo packed into uniform containers, making loading, unloading, and stacking productive. Their primary function is to enhance trade between nations by facilitating the exchange of commodities.  


Ships that Carry Cargo

This broad category includes a variety of vessels intended for transporting commodities, materials, and general cargo. They are available in various sizes and designs, and to handle multiple cargo kinds, they are frequently outfitted with cranes and specialised loading gear. 


Bulk Carriers

Bulk carriers, designed to carry the most cargo possible, move heavy loads of loose, unpackaged commodities, including ore, coal, cement, and grain. Their layout emphasises quick loading and unloading while guaranteeing the product’s security in transit.  


Ro-Ro (Roll-on/Roll-off) Ships

These ships are specifically designed to transport cargo on wheels that can be manoeuvred on and off the boat by hand. A few examples are Ro-Ro ferries, barges, and cargo ships built to accommodate cars, trucks, and trailers.  


Tanker Vessels

Designed for the safe and efficient transport of bulk liquids and gases, tanker vessels come in various types. Common examples include: 

  • Oil Tankers: Transport crude oil and refined petroleum products. 
  • Chemical Tankers: Carry a variety of chemicals, often requiring specialised tanks and handling procedures. 
  • Gas Carriers: Transport natural gas (LNG) and other liquefied gases in pressurised and temperature-controlled environments. 

Service Tugs

These are vital to marine operations even though they aren’t ships that transport cargo. In addition to emergency response, maintenance, and repairs, service tugs are also used to pull idle ships. 


Fishing Vessels

While not formally part of the Merchant Navy (which concentrates on commercial shipping), fishing vessels play an essential role in the maritime economy. Depending on the intended catch and the fishing techniques, they can operate in different sizes and configurations. 


Passenger Vessels

Passenger ships prioritise passenger travel across waterways. Some might even transport cars and luggage for the passengers’ convenience. This group includes ferries, cruise ships, and other watercraft intended for passenger travel.  


Essential Departments on a Merchant Navy Vessel


merchant navy ceremony

When you join the Merchant Navy, There are many fascinating chances to work in different departments on a ship. Here’s a closer look at the three departments that are essential to a ship’s proper operation: 


Deck Department

The deck department serves as the guiding force of the ship. Their responsibilities encompass: 

  • Navigation: Ensuring the safe and efficient passage of the vessel, using navigational tools and adhering to maritime regulations. 
  • Cargo Operations: Overseeing cargo loading, unloading, and securing cargo storage onboard. 
  • Berthing: Maneuvering the ship into and out of the port using specialised deck equipment. 

Deck officers lead this department, with the Captain at the helm, holding ultimate authority over all shipboard operations. 


Engine Department

The engine department is in charge of the engine room, which is the ship’s beating heart. Their main area of interest is: 

  • Machinery Management: Maintaining and operating the ship’s propulsion systems, auxiliary engines, and other mechanical equipment. 
  • Maintenance: Performing routine checks, troubleshooting issues, and ensuring the smooth running of all machinery. 

Catering Department

The catering department is in charge of providing a healthy and comfortable meal for the crew and passengers. Among their responsibilities are: 

  • Food Preparation: Planning, preparing, and serving meals for all personnel onboard. 
  • General Cleaning: Maintaining cleanliness and hygiene throughout the crew and passenger areas. 


Advantages of a Merchant Navy Career

The Merchant Navy provides a distinctive and fulfilling career path. The following are some strong arguments in favour of embarking on this thrilling voyage: 


Travel the World

Adventure seekers never have a better opportunity than the Merchant Navy. Your place of employment serves as your passport, giving you access to ports worldwide and the opportunity to engage with various cultures personally.


Lucrative Salaries

The Merchant Navy’s pay packages are renowned for being competitive. Starting pay can be between $1500 and $3000 a month, and there is much room for growth depending on your experience and credentials. Salary for senior positions such as Captain is much more appealing. 

Embrace Cultural Diversity

Take part in an international community! Working in the Merchant Navy will expose you to a diverse group of coworkers and port officials. This promotes flexibility, cross-cultural comprehension, and a more expansive perspective. 

Accessible Career Path

Formal education requirements are flexible. You can begin your maritime journey with short courses like a G.P.e Rating or a Diploma in Nautical Science, even after completing your 10th or 12th grade. Degree programs are also available for those seeking faster access to officer-level positions. 


Develop Professional Acumen

The Merchant Navy fosters a strong work ethic and professionalism. You’ll hone your communication skills, adaptability, and ability to operate effectively within a team structure. The demanding nature of the work environment further refines these skills, leading to significant personal and professional growth. 

Attain Early Financial Independence

The Merchant Navy offers the potential for financial security at a young age. Competitive salaries, often paid in US dollars, provide a significant advantage compared to many land-based careers. Additionally, many shipping companies offer attractive perks and benefits from the start of your employment. 

Extended Vacations

The demanding work schedules are balanced by generous vacation periods. After completing a 6-8 months contract at sea, you’ll typically enjoy 4-5 months of well-deserved time off. These breaks allow you to reconnect with loved ones and recharge for your next adventure at sea. 


Cultivate Discipline

The unpredictable nature of the maritime environment necessitates a high level of Discipline, focus, and attention to detail. These qualities are instilled from the beginning of your training and become ingrained in your work ethic, leading to a more disciplined approach to life. 

Varied Leadership

The contractual nature of Merchant Navy careers means you’ll encounter different senior officers with each contract. This can be a positive aspect, as you’ll gain exposure to diverse leadership styles and avoid being stuck with an unfavourable superior for extended periods. 


Frequently Asked Questions: Merchant Navy Pakistan 

Following are the FAQs.


1. How can I join the Merchant Navy in Pakistan? 

Several maritime academies and institutes in Pakistan offer training programs for aspiring Merchant Navy officers. Eligibility criteria typically include: 

  • Age limit (usually between 18-21) 
  • Minimum educational qualification (often FSc with Pre-Engineering or A-Levels with Physics, Chemistry, and Math) 
  • Passing a medical examination 

2. What are the career prospects in the Merchant Navy (Pakistan)? 

The Merchant Navy offers a promising career path with opportunities for international travel, competitive salaries, and professional growth. You can progress from junior officer positions to Captain or Chief Engineer, with increasing responsibility and compensation. 

3. What are the different types of ships in the Merchant Navy? 

The Merchant Navy utilises a diverse fleet, including container ships, cargo ships, bulk carriers, Ro-Ro vessels, tankers, service tugs, and passenger ships. Each type is designed for specific cargo or passenger transportation needs. 

4. What are the challenges of working in the Merchant Navy? 

Life at sea can be demanding. Challenges include:

  • Long working hours.
  • Extended periods away from family and friends.
  • Adapting to a rigorous work environment with the potential for unpredictable weather conditions. 

5. Where can I find more information about the Merchant Navy in Pakistan? 

Here are some resources to get you started: 

  • Websites of Pakistani Merchant Navy academies and institutes 
  • Directorate General of Shipping & Marine (Government of Pakistan) website 
  • Pakistan Seafarers’ Welfare Association website 

For more information on commercial seaports in Pakistan, visit

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