Posted on 22 August 2018 by Mike Wall

Following on from his article about becoming a marine surveyor, Marine Society supporter Mike Wall is back with his thoughts on what being a marine superintendent entails, and how to go about it.

In earlier articles, we looked at coming ashore and becoming a marine surveyor. The other natural progression for senior officers on leaving the sea is that of a marine superintendent. So what does the job involve and how can you give yourself a better chance of getting the job?

The term ‘marine superintendent’ generally refers to either a ‘nautical superintendent’ or ‘technical superintendent’. In smaller companies, the marine superintendent may be called upon to do the job of both superintendents whilst on board the company’s vessels. Nautical superintendents tend to be ex-master mariners whilst technical superintendents are former chief engineers.

The main objective of operating a merchant vessel is to carry its cargo or passengers in a safe, secure and cost-effective manner to earn freight for its owners. The officers, crew and shoreside personnel have a responsibility for, and contribute to, this objective. To facilitate safe operations, the vessel must be maintained in a satisfactory condition in order to prevent the possibility of any downtime. The marine superintendent is central to achieving these objectives.

The superintendent acts as the focal point of contact between ships in his charge and shipowners, commercial operators, charterers, terminals, receivers, classification society, flag state, port state control, dry dock companies, repair shops, equipment suppliers, service providers and other company departments to deliver superintendency support. He is a facilitator and fixer.

He is an ambassador between the ship and various stakeholders, coordinating all activities in accordance with the shipping or management company's management policy. Further, he ensures that all resources made available by the company are used in an optimum manner to maintain the value of any ships under his charge. To this end, the superintendent is responsible for the vessel’s budget, a skill in itself.

His other responsibilities include planning all surveys, repairs, storing and drydocking activities of the ships under his charge in a cost and time effective manner. Consequently, he liaises with the technical department, fleet personnel department, accounts department, safety and insurance department, procurement department, crew department human resources and company administration. He also has responsibility for authorising spares, stores, services and budget compliance whilst overseeing the planned maintenance system requirements for the vessels in his charge.

Maintenance and drydocking are usually the responsibility of a technical superintendent. However, some larger companies also employ a docking superintendent. The technical superintendent may also be called upon to act as a new building superintendent from time to time.

That's it for now, next week Mike explains what skills and qualifications you’ll need to become a Marine Superintendent, as well as some pros and cons of the job. 

Mike has authored multiple books, including one on the role of the marine engineering superintendent, which are available in our shop. If you'd like more information on careers available to seafarers, get in touch with us.

You can also contact Mike Wall directly by email.