Ratings carry out a wide range of essential tasks in the day-to-day running of Merchant Navy ships.
The Merchant Navy is made up of a large number of civilian ships, operated by individual shipping companies. These include:
Job descriptions vary according to the type of ship and the area where the rating is based.
These are based in the engine room and the engine control room. They:
Ratings work under the supervision of the ship's officers.
British waters are some of the busiest in the world for shipping. Ships carry over 90 per cent of world trade, and this is forecast to increase substantially by 2015. There are around 10,000 UK Merchant Navy ratings, but opportunities for entering the Merchant Navy as a rating are limited.
There is no central recruiting agency, so applicants need to approach individual shipping companies directly to find a sponsored training opportunity. There is a list of companies on the Careers at Sea website.
There are no set minimum qualifications needed to become a Merchant Navy rating, but most employers ask for at least three GCSE's (A*-D) or equivalent. Applicants need to show they are capable of training to a minimum of NVQ Level 2. The Diplomas in engineering and in hospitality (for catering ratings) may be a useful starting point.
All ratings must pass a Merchant Navy medical examination before being employed at sea. Applicants for jobs that include navigation need good eyesight. Deck and engineering ratings must have normal colour vision.
It can be helpful for applicants to have qualifications or experience in areas such as engineering or catering. Experience and qualifications gained in the Royal Navy may count towards Merchant Navy qualifications.
Merchant Navy training begins with a six-week residential course on basic skills and safety awareness. Trainees then spend around eight months gaining practical experience working at sea. After this, they return to college for three to six weeks' training in their chosen speciality before going to sea again.
Trainees work towards NVQ Level 2 in marine vessel support, which has paths leading to deck rating or engineering rating careers. Successful deck ratings also receive the Efficient Deck Hand Certificate. Catering ratings work towards an NVQ Level 2 in catering. It usually takes 12 to 18 months for ratings to complete training. Qualified ratings are known as Seaman (Grade 1).
Oil Drilling Roustabouts and Roughnecks work as part of a small team on offshore oil or gas drilling rigs or production platforms. Roustabouts do unskilled manual labouring jobs on rigs and platforms, and Roughneck is a promotion from roustabout.
Roustabouts do basic tasks to help keep the rig and platform working efficiently and Roughnecks do practical tasks involved in the drilling operation, under the supervision of the driller.
A Merchant Navy rating should be:
With experience, qualified ratings may progress to Seaman (Grade 2).
There are also opportunities to take a conversion course and progress to officer level.
The Marine Society & Sea Cadets
Tel: 020 7654 7000
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.