Physical Fitness and Medical Requirements to Join Merchant Navy

Having the right grades and the passion to have a life at the sea will not get you a career in the merchant navy. In order to join a merchant navy course, you must have the physical fitness and medical requirements that are necessary to have a career on ships.

The candidate must be in good mental and physical health and free from any kind of bodily defect to interfere with the efficient performance required at the sea.

Read on to find out if you are physically fit to join the merchant navy.

1.      Constitution

There should be no evidence of weak constitution by way of imperfect development of muscles or serious malformation. Weight below 42 kg and height below 150 cm will be rejected. The chest should be well developed with a minimum range of expansion of 5 cm.

2. Skeletal System

There should be no disease or impairment of functions of bones or joints, contracture or of deformity of chest or any joint, abnormal curvature of spine, deformity of feet like bow legs, knock knees, flat feet, deformity of upper limbs, malformation of the head, deformity from fractures or depression of the skull, fractures (healed) with a pin inside will be a disqualification.

3. Ear, nose and throat

There should be no impaired hearing, discharge or disease in either ear, unhealed perforation of tympanic membrane or signs of acute or chronic supperative otitis media or evidence of radical mastoid operation, evidence of disease of the bones and cartilage of the nose, nasal polypus or disease of nasopharynx or accessory sinuses. Loss or decay of teeth to such an extent as to interfere with efficient mastication. No disease of the throat, palate, tonsils or gums or any disease or injury affecting the normal function of either temporo mandibular joint. Individuals with severe pyorrhoea are to be rejected.

4. Speech

There should be no impediment of speech (e.g. stammering)

5. Lymphatic System

There should be no enlarged glands, tubercular or due to other diseases in the neck or other parts of the body. Thyroid gland should be normal.

6. Cardiovascular System

There should be no sign of functional or valvular or other disease of the heart and blood vessels. Electrocardiogram should be within normal limits. Systolic blood pressure should not exceed 150mm of Hg nor Diastolic above 90 mm of Hg.

7. Respiratory System

There should be no evidence of chronic or respiratory tract disease, pulmonary tuberculosis or previous history of this disease or any chronic disease of the lungs. X-ray of chest should be normal.

8. Digestive System

There should be no evidence of any disease of the digestive system and that liver and spleen should not be palpable and there should be no abdominal tenderness on palpation.

9. Genitourinary System

There should be no palpable and enlarged kidneys. There should not be any disease of kidneys. Cases showing alburminuria, glycosurea or blood (RBC) in urine will be rejected. There should be no hernia or tendency thereto. Those who have been operated for hernia may be declared fit provided:

(a)  One year has elapsed after the operation. Documentary proof to be produced by the candidate.

(b) General tone of abdominal muscles should be good and

(c) There has been no recurrence of hernia or complications with the operation. There should be no hydrocele, vericocele, spermatocele or any other defect of genital organs, no fistula and/or anal fissure or evidence of hemorrhoids (Piles), rectal polyps. There should be no active latent or congenital venereal diseases, undescended intra abdominal testicle on one side unassociated with hernia, provided the other testicle is normal and that there is no physical or psychological effect due to undescended testicle will be accepted. Undescended testicle is retained in inguinal canal or at the extra abdominal ring will be rejected.

10. Skin

There should be no skin disease unless temporary or trival. Scars which by their extent or position are likely to cause disability or marked disfigurement are a cause for rejection.

11. Nervous System

There should be no history or evidence of mental disease of the candidate or in his family. Candidates having history of fits in continence or urine or enuresis will not be accepted. Mental or nervous irritability, abnormality of gait, defective functions of cranial nerves, inco-ordination, motor or sensory defaults will be rejected.

12. Eye Sight

There should not be any degree of squint or any morbid condition of eyes or of the eyelids that is liable to aggravate or recur, pressure of trachome and iris complication sequela. Candidates must possess good binocular vision (fusion faculty and full field of vision in both eyes). Movement of the eyeballs must be full in all directions and the pupils should react normally to light and accommodation.
The vision should be 6/6 (normal) in each eye separately. Defective colour vision tested by Ishihara Colour Blindness Test is a disqualification.

13. Any other defect which in the opinion of the medical board will interfere with the individual’s efficiency as an officer of the merchant navy.

Note: The Above Information is provided by the Directorate General of Shipping, Merchant Shipping Act 1958.

courtesy -

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