What Is The Difference Between Merchant Navy And Defence Navy?

Difference Between Merchant Navy And Defence Navy

The Merchant Navy and the Defence Navy are two of the most lucrative and adventurous fields one can opt for in a career in the marine world. Both of these are marine workforces that involve undergoing rigorous training, staying at sea for several months a year and both of them offer fairly handsome pay.

There are, however, several differences between the two. In this article, we will discuss the difference between a merchant navy and a defence navy and compare them based on several aspects.

What Is Merchant Navy?

The Merchant navy of a nation is its fleet of ships that are used specifically for the purpose of commercial shipping. This means that the ships of the merchant navy can transport everything from cargo to passengers across various destinations all over the world.

Hence, the activities of the merchant navy are spread across the world and are not native to a particular country. Some of the rules and regulations are imposed upon a merchant navy are governed by the International Maritime Organization or IMO. The ships of a merchant navy may be owned by the government of the country as well as by private individuals.

What Is Defence Navy?

The defence navy of a country or simply the Navy of a country is a military wing. This means that the vessels of a navy exist solely for the purpose of national security. The Navy protects a country’s maritime interests. At times of war, the Navy is employed to protect the water boundaries from getting attacked.

The navy is governed purely by the country’s government. Any individual recruited in the navy can be said to be on national duty. It is also a career of great values, skills, and respect.

Differences Between Merchant Navy And Defence Navy

So, we can understand that the basic difference between a merchant navy and a defence navy is that the former is purely commercial while the latter is for national security.

Eligibility Criteria

The eligibility criteria for joining the merchant navy and the defence navy are somewhat different.

Merchant Navy: To join the merchant navy, a candidate must have a 10+2 or equivalent certification with the subjects of physics, chemistry, and mathematics with a minimum of 60% marks. The candidate may require a bachelor’s degree in marine engineering or nautical science in order to join the engineering or navigational fields of the merchant navy or for obtaining higher ranks and positions. The age limit for a candidate wanting to join the merchant navy job in India is from 17 to 25 years of age and in certain courses, 28 years of age at the start of the course.

Defence Navy: As for the defence navy, the candidate must have a 10+2 or equivalent certificate with mandatory subjects of physics and mathematics and at least one out of biology, chemistry, or computer science. The age of the candidate should be between 16 to 20 years of age in the stated period. In addition, the candidate must be unmarried.

Also read: What is MNTB?

Medical Requirements

The medical requirements for both the merchant navy and defence navy are nearly the same. The basic meaning overall physical and mental well-being of the candidate. A candidate proficient in sports and swimming is preferred.

Merchant Navy: For the merchant navy, candidates below 42 kg of weight and below 150 cm of height will not be accepted. A vision of 6/6 is also required.

Defence Navy: To join the Indian navy, candidates are required to undergo a physical fitness test. The minimum height requirement is 157 cm. A 6/6 vision is required and there are certain restrictions regarding body tattoos as well.

All in all, the candidate should be declared medically fit after undergoing a thorough medical examination and he or she should not have any kind of condition that might affect them in the job.

Pay Scale

The salary of any person in the merchant navy or the defence navy depends on his or her rank. Here, we will discuss the rough pay scale of both with respect to Indian rupees.

Merchant Navy: In the merchant navy, the salaries can range from Rs 12,000 to Rs 8 lakhs per month. A junior officer can get about 30,000 rupees per month. This salary keeps on increasing with the rank. After about 6-7 years of service, one can get promoted to a Chief Engineer and earn up to 1.5 lakh rupees a month. As a Captain, the salary can go up to 2 lakh rupees.

Defence Navy: In the Indian navy, the salaries can start from about 57,000 for a sub-lieutenant and go up to about 2,50,000 with increasing ranks and experience.


Merchant Navy

The ranking system in the merchant navy is different for different departments. There are three departments. The ranking according to the departments is as follows:

  1. Deck Department
    • Chief Officer/Mate
    • Second Officer/ Mate
    • Third Officer/ Mate
    • Deck Cadets
  2. Deck Department Rating
    • Bosun
    • Welder/Fitter
    • Able Seaman (AB)
    • Ordinary Seaman (OS)
    • Trainee OS
  3. Engine Department
    • Chief Engineer
    • Second Engineer/First Assistant Engineer
    • Third Engineer/ Second Assistant Engineer
    • Fourth Engineer/ Third Assistant Engineer
    • Fifth Engineer/ Engine Cadet
  4. Engine Room Rating
    • Fitter
    • Motorman
    • Wiper
    • Trainee Fitter / Trainee Wiper
  5. Catering Department/ Saloon Department
    • Chief Cook
    • Trainee Cook
    • Steward

For more details: Merchant Navy Ranks

Merchant Navy Career Path
Merchant Navy Career Path


Defence Navy

Following is how officers in the Indian Navy are ranked:

  1. Commissioned Officers
    • Admiral of the fleet
    • Admiral
    • Vice Admiral
    • Rear Admiral
    • Commodore
    • Captain
    • Commander
    • Lieutenant Commander
    • Lieutenant
    • Sub Lieutenant
  2. Junior Commissioned Officers
    • Master Chief Petty Officer (1st Class)
    • Master Chief Petty Officer (2nd Class)
    • Chief Petty Officer
  3. Non-Commissioned Officers
    • Petty Officer
    • Leading Seaman
    • Seaman 1 and 2

Maritime jobs are highly rewarding but demand sacrifice and commitment. Jobs in both merchant navy and navy require you to stay away from your family for prolonged periods of time in very tough conditions.

These jobs carry significant risks to both physical and mental well-being. You need to have both  IQ as well as EQ to perform and achieve success in this industry.

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