The Merchant Navy is a non-combatant commercial fleet, which deals with transporting cargo and, occasionally, passengers, by sea. The Merchant Navy fleet includes cargo ships, container ships, barge carrying ships, oil tankers, gas tankers, bulk carriers, refrigerator ships, passenger ships as well as roll off/roll on ships. The ownership of these merchant vessels could be by the government (national shipping) or by private shipping companies. This process of transporting cargo on the merchant vessels across the globe requires a set of qualified, well trained and competent seafarers. Besides safely navigating these ships on the high seas, these seafarers also ensure that the cargo is loaded, stowed, cared for and discharged as per the internationally accepted procedures and norms and under the strict compliance of various regulations.
The Merchant Navy offers a career like no other. Not only does it offer excellent remuneration and promotional opportunities, but also tremendous scope for adventure and travel. A qualified seafarer is eligible to take up a sea going career with either national shipping companies or international shipping companies (both public sector and privately owned).
The birth of the modern Indian Merchant Navy occurred before independence from the United Kingdom, when in 1919 SS Loyalty sailed from India to Britain. Today, India ranks 15th in the world in terms of total DWT. India currently supplies around 12.8% of officers and around 14.5% of ratings to the world seafaring community. This is one of the highest of any country.