Posted on 30 August 2018 by Mike Wall

Last week, Marine Society supporter Mike Wall discussed what being a Marine Superintendent entails. This week he explains what skills and qualifications you’ll need, and his pros and cons of the job.

It is preferred that the prospective marine superintendent will have a Class 1 certificate of competency from an IMO white list country with a minimum of five years’ command experience as chief engineer or master. He should have knowledge of Classification Society rules, Flag State requirements and ship repair facilities/procedures.

Most companies will be looking for a good command of written and spoken English with ability to communicate with different ranks and nationalities. The abilities to delegate, be computer literate and produce accurate professional reports are also essentials.

All superintendents are generally considered to be part of the company's senior management team, usually reporting to a fleet manager. They will have a support team to assist with ordering spares, bunkers, logistics and personnel issues. They work closely with the chartering department to ensure that ship operations do not interfere with freight earning.

Superintendents act as the middle men between the vessel's managers and the ship. They are facilitators, auditors and reporters. As such, they must have good organisational and communication skills. The majority of the technical superintendent's work about monitoring performance and overseeing maintenance of the vessels under his charge.

As a senior officer at sea you may be used to serving on a two-on/one-off rotation but not be paid during leave periods. As a marine superintendent you receive a higher salary but get only four weeks leave per year. For the rest of the time you will be doing regular ship visits and several times a year supervising the drydocking of your ships, being responsible for up to six vessels in larger companies.

Like all jobs, there are pros and cons of doing the job. Most superintendents would list their likes and dislikes as:


•     Achievement in career development beyond service at sea.

•     Additional responsibility.

•     Great variation in the range of duties and work.

•     Experiencing repairs, claims, accidents, etc, which may never be experienced when serving onboard.

•     Increasing professional knowledge.

•     Power over ships’ crew and suppliers.

•     Higher status within community.



•     The multitude of paperwork.

•     Dealing with ships’ staff who often cannot communicate well in English.

•     Involvement with the selection process for senior ships’ staff.

•     Travel.

•     The phone never stops ringing.

•     Smart phone is your best friend.

•     No time for family.

•     Never gets any thanks for the job.

•     Is supposed to know everything about everything

•     Need for constant upgrading and training,

•     Realising that the job is ultimately not about ships but about money.

Those whose ambitions fit into the above requirements will get a great deal of job satisfaction and do well as a superintendent.

If you are interested in this role you may wish to start taking more of an interest in the operations and management of the ship on which you are serving. You may also wish to take a distance learning course or a short shoreside seminar to learn more.

To summarise, the marine superintendent is the middle man and the ‘piggy in the middle’ between the ship and company. If the marine surveyor is the ‘Mr Finder’, the marine superintendent is the ‘Mr Fixit’. He is all things to all men.

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.