Structure and administration frame work of indian shipping

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From different sources it is evident that there are about 1,50,000 seafarers in India working in ships owned by indian ship owners and in foreign flag ships through recruiting manning agencies in india.

On Shore , like all other seafarers, indian seafares also have their own basic rights & benefits and welfare facilities available to them from the Indian government and some voluntary or private welfare organisations around the world. All seafarers enjoy some previleges like ;extra baggage allowance from airlines while travelling, in comparision to shore based people and some hospital benefits with respect to seafarers medical care provided by dedicated seafarers hospitals and other hospital organisations nationally and internationally.

Seafarers also enjoy various facilities from Indian Government & other organizations like MUI,NUSI ,ITF ,ICSW, etc .


  1. Under the constitution, “Merchant Shipping” is a Central subject and is being dealt with by the Ministry of Surface Transport of the Government of India. The following subjects pertaining to Shipping and Ports, which fall within the List I of the VII Schedule to the Constitution, have inter alia been entrusted to it: 

     1. Maritime Shipping and Navigation, provision of education and training  of the Mercantile Marine. 
     2. Light-houses and Light-ships. 
     3. Major Ports. 
     4. Shipping and Navigation. 
     5. Shipbuilding (Public Sector). 

     The Ministry of Surface Transport is in-charge of the Ministry. The Secretariat of the Ministry is headed by a Secretary. The Secretary, in the matters relating to the shipping, is assisted by a Shipping Wing in the Ministry headed by a Joint Secretary who in turn assisted by Director (Mercantile Marine,) Deputy Secretary, Under Secretaries and Section Officers of the wing. 

          Directorate General Of Shipping and Allied Offices  

2.1.2.  Till 1949, the Ministry of Commerce was responsible for the Administration of the Merchant Shipping Act and for all matters relating to policy and legislation as also for all executive matters including supervision of various subordinate offices at the ports concerned with Merchant Shipping. In view of the announcement of the National Shipping Policy by Government in 1947 and the various steps taken in pursuance of that policy to assist the development of National Shipping, it was felt that a separate organization should be set up to deal with all executive matters relating to Merchant Shipping, leaving the Ministry to deal with larger issues relating to policy and legislation. A new organization called the Directorate General of Shipping was accordingly set up in September, 1949, with headquarters at Bombay, now Mumbai to deal with all executive matters relating to Merchant Shipping. 

     The subjects, the Directorate General of Shipping is required to deal with, are briefly listed below: - 

(i) Matters affecting Merchant Shipping and navigation and administration of the Merchant Shipping Laws. 
(ii) Measures to ensure safety of life and ships at sea. 
(iii) Development of Indian shipping. 
(iv) International convention relating to marine matters. 
(v) Provision of facilities for training to officers and   ratings for the merchant  navy. 
(vi) Regulation of employment of' Seamen, and Welfare of Seamen.  
(vii) Development of Sailing Vessels Industry.  
(viii) Development of Coastal Shipping. 

     The  Directorate was also responsible for the regulation of ocean freight rates and provision of Shipping space in overseas and coastal trades for the benefit of shippers. This work was handed  by  organization of the Directorate  known  as Freight Investigation Bureau.   However ,  Since  1986, the  Bureau  is abolished as the industry faced a prolonged recession during the 70’s and 80’s wherein the shippers were able to get the space at the freight rates they desired. The Directorate was also not supported  with any statutory powers to deal with the commercial disputes of shippers and shipowners. As a result, freights are now governed by market forces. 

2.1.3  The Directorate is also required to supervise the work of the various subordinate offices which were previously functioning directly under the Ministry. 

2.1.4  In the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 statutory recognition has been given to the Directorate General of Shipping, and he has been delegated powers to enable him to perform effectively the various functions under the Act.   On the administrative side,  he is assisted by a Senior Deputy Director General of  Shipping and three Deputy Director Generals of Shipping. These Officers are in turn assisted by Asstt. Director Generals of Shipping  and  other Officers. The organization chart is at Annex 1. A statement showing the sanctioned staff strength of D.G.Shipping and Allied Offices is at Annex 2. 

       On the Technical side, the Director General of Shipping is assisted by the Nautical Advisor to the Govt. of India who is also the principal examiner of the Masters and Mates and by the Chief Surveyor, who is concurrently the Chief Examiner of Engineers. They  are  in turn assisted by Deputy Nautical  Advisers and the Deputy Chief Surveyors, Deputy Chief Ship Surveyors, Nautical Surveyors and Engineer and  Ship Surveyors and Ship Surveyors. 


2.1.5  The Director General of Shipping has under his Administrative control the following offices and institutions:- 

1. Office of the Principal Officer, Mercantile Marine Department, Calcutta,   Mumbai and Madras with subordinate offices at  Jamnagar and Goa under the Principal Officer, Mumbai, Cochin, Vishakhapatnam and Tuticorin under  the Principal Officer, Madras and Port Blair under the Principal Officer, Mercantile Marine Department, Calcutta. 

2. Training Ship “Chanakya”, Mumbai headed by a Captain Superintendent, which provides training to navigating side. 

3. Marine Engineering Research Institute, Calcutta  and Mumbai, each headed by a  Director and a Deputy  Director respectively,  which  provide pre-sea training to cadets in marine engineering. 

4. Lal Bahadur Shastri College of Advanced Maritime Studies and Research,  Mumbai headed by a Principal, which provides post sea instruction in Navigation and Engineering  to candidates preparing for M.O.T. Examinations for  various grades of Certificate of Competency. 

5. Shipping Offices,  Mumbai and Calcutta,  each headed by a Shipping Master. 

6. Seamen's Employment offices, Mumbai and Calcutta, each  headed by a Director to regulate employment to Seamen on Ships on the Principle of rotation. 

7. Seamen's Welfare Office, Madras headed by a Seamen's Welfare officer to look after the welfare of seamen.  

8. First Secretary  (Shipping), High  Commission for  India in London, to keep liaison  with International Maritime Organization   (IMO) and Government of India and also  to  look after other matters related to Indian Merchant  Shipping. 

9. Regional Offices (Sails),  Mumbai, Calicut, Tuticorin and Jamnagar each headed by a Regional officers  (Sails), which assist the sailing vessels owners in organizing themselves  or better securing of cargo, standardization of trade  practices, elimination of  malpractice and  look after the Welfare and amenities of seafarers under sail. 

2.2.1  Officers appointed under the Act and their function and powers. 
     The Officers appointed under the Merchant Shipping Act are Director General of Shipping, Principal Officers, Mercantile Marine Departments, Surveyors, Radio Inspectors, Shipping Masters, Directors, Seamen's Employment Offices and Seamen's Welfare Officer. 

2.2.2. Director General of Shipping: The Director General of Shipping has been appointed by the Central Government under Section 7(1) of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, for the purpose of exercising or discharging powers, authority or duties conferred or imposed upon him by or under the Act. 

     The Director General of Shipping has been delegated exercised by the Central Government under various sections of Merchant Shipping Act, 1958. The details of powers delegated to the  Director General of Shipping in the Administration of Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 are given in Annex 3. 


2.2.3. Principal Officers, M.M.D.s - The Mercantile Marine Department have been established at Mumbai with sub-office in Goa and Jamnagar, at Madras with sub-offices in Visakhapatnam, Cochin and Tuticorin and Calcutta with sub-office at Port Blair under the section 8 of the M.S.Act, 1958. 

     As  per the provision of Section  8 of Merchant Shipping  Act 1958, the Mercantile Marine Departments have been established  at the ports of Mumbai, Calcutta and Madras  headed  by  Principal Officers. The jurisdiction of the MMD, Mumbai includes the state of  Gujarat,  Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka  and Union  territories of Daman  and Diu. MMD, Mumbai has two sub-offices at Jamnagar and Goa, headed by a Surveyor in charge. The jurisdiction of Madras District includes the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra  Pradesh and Union Territories of Pondicherry, Lakshdweep, Aminideev and Minicoy Islands. It has three sub-offices at Cochin, Tuticorin and Vaizag headed by Surveyor in charge. The Calcutta District  covers the States of West Bengal, Orissa and Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar islands. It has a sub-office at Port Blair headed by a Surveyor in charge. 

     The Principal Officers, in the discharge of their duties are subject to the control of Director- General of Shipping and are concerned with the administration of the Act and the rules and regulations thereunder on matters pertaining to registration of ships, Certificate of officers, Passenger Ships, Safety, Collisions and accidents, Navigation, prevention of pollution of the sea by oil, investigation and enquiries, etc. Powers under Section 225(i) 229, 229A, 300, 301 and 306 (1) have  also  been delegated to them. 

2.2.4 Surveyors: Surveyors (Nautical Surveyors, Engineers & Ship Surveyors and Ship Surveyors) are appointed under Section 9 of the M.S.Act, 1958 and are entrusted with the duty ensuring  that the requirements of the  Act and the rules  and regulations made thereunder relating  to safety survey etc. are duly complied with. 

2.2.5.  Radio Inspectors: Radio Inspectors attached to the Mercantile Marine Department are appointed under Section 10 of the Act for the purpose of ensuring that the requirements of the Act and the rules and regulations framed thereunder relating to Radio telegraphy, radio telephony and direction finders are  complied with. 

2.2.6.  Shipping Masters: Shipping Offices have been established at  the port of Mumbai and Calcutta under Section  (11)  of the  M.S. Act, 1958 in the charge of Shipping  Masters  who discharge their duties and function under the general control of D. G. Shipping as per the provision of section 11 (2). Their duties, function and powers are derived from the provision of part VII of the act, namely engagement and discharge of seaman, treatment of distressed seaman, inquiries into disputes between seaman and masters/shipowners relating to wages, ill-treatment medical examination etc. The function of shipping offices may be see in chapter XIX of shipping manual.  

2.2.7 Director, Seaman employment offices: Seaman employment offices in charge of Director have been established at the port of Mumbai and Calcutta under section 12 of the M. S. Act, 1958. The Director exercise their duties under the general control of the Director General of Shipping who has been designated under section 12 (2) as the intermediate authority by Central Government. These Directors attend to the business assign to them under section 95 of the M. S. Act, 1958 and  perform their duties and discharge their powers in the manner provided for in the rules made under this sections. The function of the officers may be seen at chapter XX of this manual. 

2.2.8 Seaman’s Welfare Office: Seaman welfare officers has been appointed at Madras under section 13 of the M. S. Act 1958. 

The functions which Seamen's Welfare Officer required to perform are:- 

1. To supervise, inspect and co-ordinate the work of hostels, welfare clubs and other welfare centers in operation in the port: 

2. To keep in close contact with the seamen of ship which visit the port and to render such assistance to them as is possible. 

3. To make provision for hostel accommodation boarding facility and recreation and to arrange for entertainment, medical aid, hospitalization and accommodation in convalescent homes for Seaman’s and for educational aid to seaman and their families. 

4. To take charge and to keep in safe custody the personal effect of hospitalized seaman at the port at which they are stationed. 

5. To assist in the functioning of the welfare board, if any, and voluntary welfare organizations in the port. 

6. Specific function under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, for the carrying out which he may be appointed. 

7. Any other function as may be assigned to him from time to time by the Central Government. 

 Seamen's Welfare Office at Madras has been delegated powers  Under Section 145(2) of the  Act for initiating summary proceedings for recovery of seamen's wages. 

Functions of the Indian Council Officer under Part VII of the M.S. Act: 

The Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, empowers the Indian Consular Officer for carrying at certain functions relating to the seamen. These are as under: -  FUNCTIONS OF AN INDIAN COUNSELOR OFFICER  UNDER THE M. S. ACT, 1958. 


Section of the M.S. Act, 1958

Nature of Duty


101 (3)

Settlement of disputes between the Master; owner of agent of  a  ship and seaman in respect of  any  matter touching the agreement with the crew.


108 (b)

Giving consent to an erasure, inter-lineation or alteration in and agreement with the crew.



Giving of sanction for the engagement of a seaman at a port outside India by the master of an Indian Ship and endorsement on the agreement with crew.



Taking consent of seaman or apprentice to complete voyage in an Indian ship which has been transferred or disposed of while she is at or a voyage to any port outside India. 



Receiving of report of death of seaman or apprentices and requiring if necessary, that the property of the deceased be handed over to him.



Claiming and taking charge of the property of a seamen or apprentice engaged at a port in India or on Indian ship who dies on shore abroad.


156(1) and (3)

Selling of property, if necessary, of deceased seamen or apprentices and remission thereof and of account to the shipping master at the port of engagement.


161 to 166

Matters relating to distressed seamen. 


174 (4)

Satisfying himself as to the reasonableness of expenses incurred in  connection with   illness   of  master,   seamen   or apprentice as deductible from wages. 


191 & 192

Desertion and absence without leave satisfying himself before a report is made to the Director General of Shipping. 


198 (1)

Making and certifying as correct a log entry relating to desertion.


202(1) (b)

Endorsing an entry in relation to deduction of a fine from the wages of a seaman discharged at the port with his consent.


2.3.1.  Executive order on discharge of functions; General instructions have been and continue to be issued in the form of MMD Circulars/D.G.S circulars to provide guidelines to field officers in the discharge of their statutory functions. On subjects like survey, conduct of preliminary Inquiries and investigations and detention of unsafe ships, etc., special instructions have been provided in detail in printed booklet entitled  '' Instructions to Principal officers and Surveyors". 

2.4.1. Government of India's Policy Decisions; With the attainment of independence, the development of Indian shipping became an important objective of state policy. In pursuance of this policy, the Government of India has taken various steps to assist the development of Indian Shipping. The more important of this step are briefly mentioned below: - 

1. Reservations of coastal trade to national shipping; 

2. Setting up of public sector corporations in the shipping field; 

3. Development of ship building /repairing industry in the public sector; 

4. introduction of bilateral shipping services; 

5. Concessions to shipping industry  such as grant of development rebate and exemption from wealth tax; 

6. Making available foreign credit from countries like Japan, U.K., West Germany, Belgium, Poland etc., for the acquisition of tonnage; 

7. Enhancement of the limit of foreign participation in the shipping industry from 25% to 40%. 

2.5.1. Recruitment of officers :- On the technical side, the method of recruitment adopted and qualifications and experience prescribed for the following posts which form the basic point of entry are as detailed below:- 

2.5.2. Nautical Surveyors:- 

Method of Recruitment

:Direct through U.P.S.C. by open competition.

Qualifications and Experience essential

:(a) Certificate of Competency  
      (Master Foreign Going). 
 (b) Service at sea as Deck Officer for 5 years of which one year must have been in the capacity of a Chief Officer, on foreign going ship. 


: (i) Extra Masters Certificate of Competency. 
  (ii) Experience in Command of foreign going ship.

2.5.3. Engineer & Ship Surveyor :- 

Method of Recruitment

:Direct through U.P.S.C. by open competition.

Qualification &Experience essential

:(a)First class ENgineer's Certificates of Competency(Steam & Motor)  
(b) Service at sea as  for 5 years as Engineer Officer at sea   of which one year must have been in the capacity of a Chief Engineer or Second Engineer.


: (i) Extra first class Engineer  Certificate of Competency. 

2.5.4. Ship Surveyor :- 

Method of Recruitment

:(1) By Promotion 50%(from Jr. Naval Architects with 5 years service in that grade) 

Direct- 50%  through U.P.S.C.

Qualification & Experience essential

:(aA Degree in Naval Architecture from a recognized University or equivalent. 
 (b) Training of not less than 5 years in the Theory and Practice of Ship Design construction and repairs. 
(c) Practical experience of three years. 


: (i) Extra Masters Certificate of Competency. 
  (ii) Experience in Command of foreign going ship.

2.5.5. Junior Naval Architect :-  

Method of Recruitment

:Direct through U.P.S.C. by open competition.

Qualification & Experience essential

:(a) A degree in Naval Architecture from a recognized University or equivalent. 

 (b) Practical experience for a period of two years in repairs, construction and design of ships in a ship-building or a ship repairing yard. Any practical training carried out in a ship-building or a ship repairing yard during the period of degree course may be included in this period. 


: Knowledge of construction of wooden craft.

- The present maximum age limit for direct recruits for all the above 4 categories of posts is 35 years. 

2.5.6. Radio Inspectors :-  

Method of Recruitment

:By direct recruitment failing which by transfer on deputation (Officers of the rank of Assistant Engineer (Wireless from DG P & T).

Qualification & Experience essential

:(a) First Class Certificate of Proficiency or Competency in Radio Telegraphy. 
(b) Five years experience in operation, maintenance, and adjustment of ship borne or shore based wireless station.


: 1) A degree in telecommunication engineering. 
2) Experience in operation, maintenance and adjustment of Auto-alarms, Radio Direction Finders and Electronic Aids in Navigation such as Radar, Echo Sounder.

        As at present the maximum age limit is 35 years. 

2.5.7. A Nautical Surveyor who has acquired an Extra Master's Certificate of  Competency,  undergone the prescribed  training obtained  command experience and also put in a prescribed minimum period  of service would be eligible for being considered for promotion to the post of  Deputy  Nautical  Adviser  and upwards in due turn. 

2.5.8. An Engineer and Ship Surveyor who has acquired an Extra First Class Engineers Certificate, undergone the prescribed training and also, put in a stipulated minimum period of  service would  be eligible for being considered for promotion to the  post of Deputy Chief Surveyor  and  upwards  in  due  turn. 

2.5.9. A Ship Surveyor who has completed the minimum period  of service and  also the prescribed period  of  training would  be eligible for being considered for promotion to the post of  Deputy Chief Ship Surveyor. 

2.5.10. On the administrative and non-technical sides, the various categories of posts are filled in accordance with the relevant provisions of' that recruitment rules notified by  the  Government for the different cadres. 

Maritime institutions
Effective legislation and collective agreements for seafarers working on Indian vessels has been established through the cooperation of major players: the Government (Ministry of Shipping and Director-General of Shipping); the Indian National Shipowners’ Association (INSA); the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI); the Forward Union of Seafarers of India (FUSI); and the Maritime Union of India (MUI).

The National Maritime Board exists for ratings –

to secure closer cooperation and providing joint negotiating machinery between

shipowners/employers and union(s) representing Indian ratings holding CDCs and/or

registered with the Seamen’s Employment Offices and engaged on Indian Foreign Going

Articles of Agreement or other Indian Government-approved crew agreement. Its objective is the:

(a) prevention and adjustment of differences between shipowners/employers and ratings,

(b) establishment and revision of rates of wages and other conditions of service and

maintenance thereof;

(c) consideration of such other matters of common interest as may be mutually agreed upon from time to time; and

(d) maintenance of harmonious industrial relations.
The Board consists of an equal number of members representing shipowners/

employers and ratings’ unions. The Indian National Shipowners’ Association nominates

nine members of which three are representatives of foreign shipowners/employers using Indian ratings. These are determined in consultation with the Maritime Association of Shipowners, Shipmanagers and Agents (MASSA) and Foreign owners representatives and ship managers association(FOSMA). The shipowners/employers’ sidedecides periodically which union is most representative of Indian ratings for the purposes of collective bargaining. Currently, the nine members on the seafarers’ side consists of six from the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) and three from the Forward Union of Seafarers of India (FUSI).

The decisions made by the Board cover all areas of living and working conditions

such as safety, accommodation, food, wages, overtime, leave, all of which are included in their summary of agreements.
The Indian National Shipowners’ Association represents 70 per cent of total Indian

shipowners and 85 per cent of deep-sea shipowners. The president is chosen from the body of the membership to serve for two to three years, and is currently Mr. S.J. Mulji of the Great Eastern Shipping Company Limited.
The National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) and the Forward Union of

Seafarers (FUSI) are the two ratings’ unions in India. NUSI, which was established in

1896, have the majority membership in Mumbai and FUSI the majority in Kolkota. NUSI has no political affiliations and a membership of 52,207.
Members of the union pay subscriptions per voyage, $8 for Indian-flagged vessels

and $15 for foreign-flagged vessels. The Union has considerable funds, which enabled it to establish its own substantial maritime training centre. The NUSI Maritime Academy based in Goa functions under the auspices of the ITF/NUSI Welfare Trust for Indian Seafarers.

The Academy is designed to provide pre- and post-sea training course in all areas

including those mandatory units required by the Standard of Training, Certification and

Watchkeeping (STCW) 95 Convention of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

It has a capacity to train 400 seafarers per intake which, given the four-month duration of the course, means that 1,200, can be trained annually. It should be stressed that the

Academy does not currently recruit to its full capacity because NUSI is conscious of the

oversupply situation in the ratings market.
FUSI represents approximately 80,000 ratings holding Indian CDCs, and is

considered the more radical of the ratings’ unions.

The union estimates that there are currently around 32,000 jobs available for these

ratings, mostly based in Mumbai and Kolkota, with a smaller number in Chennai.

The union is in the process of establishing a code of conduct for its membership to

maintain discipline on board. The standard set of requirements of the individual member


(1) being under the influence of alcohol on board (drink is prohibited on board except

with the permission of the master);

(2) manhandling;

(3) incapable of giving output; and

(4) indulging in thieving or smuggling.

If the code were broken by any member, collective support would be withdrawn, but

no disciplinary action would be taken.
The Maritime Union of India (MUI) established around 60 years ago is the only

union representing officers in India. It is a democratic organization with all union officials elected every two to four years. Members pay a subscription of $12 per year. Its

membership consists of 8,000 officers on foreign-flagged and 4,000 on Indian-registered

In order to obtain a more accurate assessment of numbers, the Directorate General of

Shipping introduced a database of seafarers built on training certificates. Any

Indian citizen who has obtained a certificate from an Indian college will be given an

INDOS” number (Indian database on seafarers).
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