Maritime Engineers’ Tasks Vary Between Ranks

There are quite a number of marine engineering responsibilities a marine engineer has to see to. As a branch of engineering, marine engineers will see that their responsibilities are as stressful as the other engineering branches.

Marine engineers’ regular tasks usually encompass anything marine and offshore. Therefore, it is normal for marine engineers to be based on offshore rigs and marine vessels. It is also normal to hear about how stressful it is for marine engineers on their jobs. Especially when they have to be based offshore for months around. Having said that, being a marine engineer requires the individual to be mentally and emotionally steady.

Main Responsibilities of Marine Engineers

The common responsibilities of marine engineers are many. Monitoring and maintenance of mechanical systems is one of those main responsibilities. Engineers of varying ranks on board ship is allocated precise machinery and systems for maintenance and monitoring purposes.

Machinery systems are allocated among all engineers. It is the duty of each engineer to make sure that their machinery is running properly at all times. Marine engineers are also needed to look after the machinery on deck.

Here are 3 main responsibilities of a marine engineer.

1. Proper record-keeping and planning maintenance 

Proper record-keeping and planning maintenance 
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The engine room department functions as a team to make sure of the maintenance of all machinery systems is carried out. It has to follow accordingly to the planned maintenance system. Precise and accurate record-keeping of different parameters is carried out for official paperwork and reporting purposes.

2. Fuel oil bunkering 

Marine engineers are also responsible for the transfer of fuel oil to the ship from a bunker station or barge. It is typically the duty of the 4th engineer who also takes regular soundings of the fuel oil tanks. The very same engineer will also have to report it to the chief engineer for planning bunkering procedures.

3. Emergency breakdown and repair

Emergency breakdown and repair
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Marine engineering also teaches the individual how to handle main maintenance and breakdown of machinery systems. This is especially important as these marine engineers will have to handle all of these while at sea. Although marine engineers are expected to be capable of the same, there are times when there may be a need for experts. In such scenarios, marine engineers are needed and advised to work with the experts to repair and resolve the issue.

On top of the above-mentioned duties, a marine engineer on ships is needed to follow all the instructions of the chief engineer. They will also have to listen to the head of the engine room department while they are still on board.

What is the workplace of a Marine Engineer like?

A good lot of a marine engineer’s responsibilities can be performed in their office. However, there are times when sea trials are part of their job responsibilities. Marine engineers may have to spend time aboard a ship to test how the vessel is performing. They will also have to gather information for maintenance. Sometimes, they may have to gather information for an upcoming retrofit.

Marine engineers who concentrate on offshore drilling will often find themselves spending time on the oil rig. When they are there, they will have to oversee and manage maintenance. They may even have to oversee repair efforts involving the rig’s mechanical systems due to their marine engineering responsibilities.

Different Marine Engineer Ranks

Different Marine Engineer Ranks
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There are several marine engineering ranks within the industry. Each of them holds different responsibilities. Here are some of the examples.

a. Chief marine engineer

The chief engineer of the ship is the leader of the technical department of the ship. It is his responsibility to ensure that the engine room machinery functions properly for a smooth voyage. According to the Safety of life at sea (SOLAS) convention (international maritime laws for maritime safety), it is the responsibility of the chief engineer to take care of the safety of maritime professionals working in the engine room.

In the maritime law, it says that the operation of the ship and its equipment should be properly taken care of by the chief engineer. It should satisfy all minimum standards of safety.

There are several duties of the chief maritime engineer. It applies in both emergency and general conditions.

  • The chief maritime engineer should make sure that all the ship’s machinery and equipment are functioning in an efficient manner in order to support safe navigation of the ship.
  • Regular inspections of equipment dealing with ship and personal safety must be carried out by the same chief officer at consistent intervals
  • All items used for pollution prevention has to be frequently checked and tried out for proper working conditions
  • Chief engineer should put down a set of standing orders for each crew member under his overview

Above are some of the common responsibilities of a chief marine engineer.

b. 2nd Engineer

The 2nd engineer offers supreme assistance to the Chief engineer for running the ship efficiently. On top of that, second engineer is also responsible for all the operational engineers and the crew in the engine room. He makes sure and overlooks their personnel safety and routine duties. He also plans the overall maintenance of all the machinery that are located in the engine room of the ship.

Here are some of the common responsibilities of the 2nd marine engineer.

  • Safety of Personnel: Second engineer is in charge of risk assessment, briefing and safety training of the entire engine crew. He will have to pay extra attention especially for the junior engineers and new crew. All the emergency machinery and equipment underSOLAS are also under the overview of the second engineer.
  • Engine Room Management Responsibility: He is the go-to person for managing the engine room staff. At the same time, he has to carry out duties of the engine room. As the assistant to the chief engineer, he will directly report to the chief engineer. He will also become the PIC of the engine room on his absence.
  • Operation and Maintenance of Machinery: The second engineer is also responsible for the maintenance of all the engine room and deck machinery. He also has to overlook all the machineries and safety systems are working safely. The 2nd engineer just has to efficiently take care of it within the provided parameters.

c. Third Engineer

The third marine engineer’s role is quite similar to the second assistant engineer. His role depends on what the 2nd marine engineer does. However, his role is usually in charge of boilers, fuel, auxiliary engines, condensate and feed systems. People can consider him as the third most senior engine officer on board.

At times he may be responsible for fuelling (bunkering). If so, he may hold a valid PIC endorsement for fuel transfer operations. Once again, his precise duties will usually depend upon the type of ship and arrangement of the engine department.

The above ranks are just some of the common ranks of marine engineers on board a vessel. The marine engineering responsibilities (and pay bands) cascades as the seniority of the rank goes.


The bottom line is that the responsibilities of a marine engineer responsibilities is wide and varying. Their main responsibility is to the vessel and its crew members. They ensure that the vessel is in smooth operation and that the crew’s welfare is well taken cared of.

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