Elector Technical Officer – A promising future in Shipping and Offshore Industry

This article is devoted to acknowledge the growing demand of having a ETO or Electro Technical Officer in Merchant Shipping and Offshore . Traditionally Merchant Ships used to carry Electricians who didn’t had any CoC ( Certificate of Competency), but with implementation of Complex control system in E/R machinery and SMART instruments, time has come to make ETO a specialized rank aboard ships… the age of ETO has begun……

I wish to touch on importance of having a competent  ETO in Maritime Industry.

Merchant Navy Ships

  • Oil Tankers – VLCC,Aframax ,Product etc
  • Gas Carriers – LNG / LPG
  • Bulk Carriers
  • Container Ships

Passenger Ships

  • Passenger Ships – Cruise liners & Large Ferries.
  • Super Yacht ( typically larger than 80m)

 Specialized Offshore Vessels

  • Dynamic Positioning Vessels – DP 1/2/3
  • Deep water Drill Ships – DP enabled
  • Seismic research Vessels – 2D/3D or 4D
  • AHTS – Anchor Handlers
  • Accommodation Barges
  • FPSO – Floating Production Storage and Offloading
  • DSV – Diving Support Vessels
  • ROV – Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle

and the list goes on…………………………………………


Traditionally a ship’s Electrician or “Batti Saab ” used to take care of ship’s electrical system which was quite basic in terms of Generation,distribution and conversion. With time a whole new concept of ETO has evolved. Having sailed on variety of Offshore Vessels, I can assure you that Electrical,Electronics & Control systems are so complex, that a need for Qualified,Educated and Competent ETO is a MUST on these ships.

  • DP3 ships have complex control system circuitry
  • Thrusters are driven by High Voltage ( normally 3.3kV/6.6kV/12kV ).
  • Electric Propulsion is the future , Diesel Propulsion could phase out in nxt 20 yrs
  • Boiler Combustion systems now involves new generation PLC Logic and DCS

Its quite evident that in order to handle a million dollar DP system aboard a DP ship or a Honeywell Experion DCS system on board a Drill Ship, you need somebody who has extensive knowledge in control engineering and instrumentation.

Uncertified ETO seafarers’ route to Qualification with CoC

The STCW 2010 amendments brought in a CoC for Electro-technical Officers. The CoC was introduced to give those working in this capacity a formal route to gain recognition of their technical abilities and provide an international standard.

There is no formal programme for experienced seafarers, with the expectation being that most candidates will already hold many of the required short course certificates and only need to fill in the gaps where necessary.

For experienced candidates to qualify for a ETO CoC, the candidate will need to:

  • Have documentary evidence of at least 12 months service in the last five years as ETO or carrying out the functions of an ETO on board ship.

Hold the following certification:

  1. Personal Survival Techniques.
  2. Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting.
  3. Elementary First Aid.
  4. Security Awareness.
  5. Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities.
  6. Survival Craft and Rescue Boats (other than fast rescue boats).
  7. Advanced Fire Fighting.
  8. Medical First Aid.


  • Complete the MNTB Electro Technical Officer Competency Record (similar to the Training Record Book that the ETO cadets are required to complete).Each competence must be signed off by the Chief Engineer, or Ship’s Superintendent.

    In order to sign off on competencies, the Chief Engineer or Ships Superintendent most hold either a UK STCW Reg III/2 Chief Engineer CoC, or UK Certificate of Equivalent Competency (CEC) endorsing a non UK STCW Reg III/2 Chief Engineer CoC.

    Tasks may be signed off retrospectively providing the person signing has personal knowledge that the task was complete.

  • Complete a MNTB/MCA High Voltage (Management Level) course or have your CoC endorsed as not permitted to carry out maintenance on High Voltage Systems.
  • Complete an AMERC Electronic Navigation Equipment Maintenance (ENEM) course or have your CoC endorsed as not permitted to carry out maintenance on Navigational Systems.
  • Complete an AMERC GMDSS Radio Maintenance course or have your CoC endorsed as not permitted to carry out maintenance on Radio Equipment.
  • Complete an MNTB/MCA approved Human Element Leadership and Management (HELM) (Operational Level) course.
  • Pass the following written examinations:
    • SQA Chief Engineer Electro-Technology.
    • AMERC Electronic Principles and Applications.
  • Hold a current Medical Certificate (ENG1 or equivalent).
  • Pass an MCA oral examination.

The budget cost for completing all the above is likely to be in the range of £ 11,000 (including all exam costs) if undertaken in the UK. A measure of Slater funding is available to contribute towards the overall cost for eligible candidates.

Any endorsement may be removed at a later date if the appropriate criteria are met.

SETO CoC – Senior ETO Certificate of Competency :

Certification as a Senior ETO (SETO) was proposed but not incorporated by the IMO in the STCW 2010 amendments. The proposal is curently under consideration to include SETO certification within the UK system, although this is currently not in place.