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Merchant Navy Rules for First Time Seafarers

No matter how much training you receive onshore, nothing prepares you more than going on an actual voyage.  The sometimes calm seas or otherwise precarious situation at sea can give you an interesting lesson which you can’t learn in the classroom.  Each situation might warrant different reaction and adaptability skills.  So what should a first time seafarer look out for when sailing for the first time?

  • Punctuality

Punctuality is of utmost importance, especially so in the maritime industry.  For example you would not want to miss the embarkation time because you are late.  Or you could be scheduled for watch-keeping duties and you are late, that will not be a very professional thing to do.  Seafarers must respect that time is precious and any delay of any nature could result in financial loss and waste of time.


  • Understanding

Seafarers must fully understand the instructions given to him and if any doubt they must clarify immediately with their superior.  This is to prevent any miscommunication so that he can perform his duties to the best of his abilities.  Seafarers must be clear their line of reporting and how to react in the event of emergency situations.


  • Drug and Alcohol

Every company has their own Drug and Alcohol policy and it’s important that seafarers adhere strictly to them.  Accidents arising from abuse of drug or alcohol can prove detrimental with huge losses to the company.  Prescription drugs prescribed by doctor are allowed but any other form of drug is strictly prohibited on board.  Alcohol on board is a strict no no so seafarers must ensure that they are not inebriated at all times.


  • Social Manners

With various nationalities working on board the same vessel, it might be a tad intimidating for first time seafarers.  The key to working well with others (be it different nationalities or not) is RESPECT.  Refrain from making sarcastic remarks about race or nationality, or even sexual orientation.  It is important to respect the different customs and religions of various nationalities. 

  • Shore Leave

You might be excited going for your very first shore leave but do keep in mind some important points.  Always ask for your direct superior’s permission before going ashore and never go to shore alone.  At least bring a photocopy of your passport along together with the ship’s contact number and the local agent contact number.  Do remember not to consume alcohol while on shore leave.

This list might not be totally exhaustive.  What do you think are some other pointers that first time seafarers should take note of?  Share with us by commenting below.