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Offshore or merchant ship: which is better for Seafarers?

Offshore platforms and cargo tanker ships

Are you in search on whether to join offshore or merchant ship job? Have you ever wonder why people prefer any of them?

On this article, we will discuss all regarding these two parts of the maritime job.

Firstly, let’s understand the difference between an offshore job and merchant ship job.

Differences between offshore and merchant ship job.

Let’s guess you already know the meaning of these types of vessels (offshore or merchant ship). Both operate offshore of course, but the major objective of this article is to learn about the job wise.

Offshore platforms and cargo tanker ships
Offshore platforms and cargo tanker ships by Trelleborg all rights reserved

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The offshore vessels are tags to be the type of vessel which operates in oil rigs, offshore constructions, security boats, tug, and equipment or provision supplier boats. Must of them have dynamic position equipment, heavy left winch, heavyweight crane, etc.

Offshore vessel jobs are base on contract; one month ON and one month OFF or two months ON and one month OFF. It all depends on the agreement or nature of operations.

Furthermore, offshore job pay’s higher salary comparing to a merchant ship. These are because most time, the crews are less due to accommodation or vessel size. Some of the offshore vessels may not visit shore for a month or more.

In the other hands’ merchant ship also known as Cargo vessel, are types of ships meant to transport cargos from one port to another. These include; Tanker vessel, Bulk carrier, Container Vessels, Refrigerator vessels, RO-RO ( car carrier), etc.

Comparing to the offshore job, cargo ships pay less. But has it advantages like; wide experience, easy to upgrade to a high level, etc.

Also, Learn; Difference between Deck and Engine Cadet.


Meaning, by working on a cargo ship as a Seafarer, you are likely to get a quick rank promotion, which you can as well work on any Offshore vessel.

Example: chief mate or second mate can handle some offshore vessel as Captain, same as 3rd engineer to second or chief engineer.

But in merchant’s vessel, it’s hard for an offshore captain to be taken as Captain in a merchant ship. He will have to serve as chief mate or second mate before promotion. This applies to other ranks as well.

With the above explanations, you will figure out that the major difference is base on rank upgrading, add to job swift.

As a merchant navy beginner, which vessel type to start with?

My recommendation to young Seafarers is to start with merchant ship job. This will grant you access to all side. As you know, offshore job today is not like before. Jobs are less and mostly permanent for some people. No one wants to give his space out.

Since merchant ships are base on contract too with 4 – 9 months range, lots of chances maybe there for you to get employed in any cargo ship company (of offshore or merchant ship).

In year 2016/2017 the oil price devalued the offshore vessels jobs, which many Seafarers were owed, crews reduced, salary reduced, etc. That is why today lots of Seafarers are still in search of a job for the past two years.

This is not because they don’t see jobs, but experience or vessel capacity disqualified them. Only a few companies may give someone a try.

Therefore, to avoid all of the above, you can start with merchant ship to get wide experience, then move to offshore later(if you like).

Moreover, I have been on both sides, but I feel bored with the offshore job while I prefer merchant ships.

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Now over to you, share your opinions on the comment box about offshore or merchant ship.

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