Field of studies: Ship’s Operation Technology

Graduates of the field of studies “Ship’s Operation Technology” are applicable especially as Technical Watch Officers, 2nd Technical Watch Officers and Chief Engineers for operation of ship propulsion systems with virtually unlimited power as well as in the whole area of maritime technology.

It is also possible to take profession in a shipping company or in maritime authorities.

Furthermore there are possibilities to work in operation or maintenance of energy and supply technology, power plant technology or in companies of the mechanical engineering sector or at thermal or energetic facilities.

Starting as a Technical Watch Officer, soon 2nd Technical Watch Officer or Chief Engineer – graduates of the course of study “Ship’s Operation Technology” have a great choice of employment of many interesting ships and shipping companies.

If it’s a container vessel, a tanker, a ferry or a passenger vessel – every ship has challenging machinery.

Job profil

Job profil

Becoming Chief

Fascinating technology, applied skills and a little bit wanderlust

At the end of school education or during professional reorientation everybody asks himself: what career do you want to pursue? Of course it is hard to decide if your choice suits your talents and needs before starting studies. That why I want to give you a short insight into life of a ship’s engineer.

The main task of a ship is of course the transport of cargo from one port to another all around the world. For that it needs to have a propulsion system - an engine that powers the ship through water by help of the propeller. The requirements of the people on board make a ship a “swimming city” by means of numerous supply systems. Among other things it needs electrical power from a socket, clean water for drinking and personal hygiene, a pleasant indoor climate in the cabins as well as the chilled closing time drink

Every beginning is hard

After graduating from study you receive the competence certificate as a “Technical Watch Officer” – it is a kind of driver’s license that enables you to work on ships of every size and every driving power. A closer look into the worldwide fleet makes it clear: most likely it will be a container vessel. These giants are huge: up to 400m of length, 55m of width and 16m draught. The currently biggest vessel is able to load up to 11.000 20-foot-containers – this corresponds with a merchandise volume of 365.000m3!

With that certificate you start on board as a “3rd Engineer”. As a beginner you are normally entrusted with partitions of the machinery. Usually you have to take care autonomous of the diesel generators supplying the ship with electricity, the separators (centrifuges for cleaning fuel oil and lubrication oil) and the steam generating boiler plant. In a predefined period inspections of those aggregates have to be carried out to detect any damage or wear at an early stage. In case a machine breaks down despite of regular inspection it has to be repaired and brought back to life with the funds available – and that might be in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.

The 2nd Engineer

After finishing 12 month of seafaring you automatically receive the 2nd-Engineer-certificate without further examination. He is the chief's deputy and the foreman of the engine department. As “Secretary of Employment” he has to take action with knowledge in personnel management. In terms of engine operation he has the responsibility for the main engine and all associated supply systems  as well as special fields like the air conditioning system. If you are already proud of 200 hp in your car – just imagine what extensive knowledge and practical skills you need with a main engine with up to 100.000 horsepower!

The “Chief”

Initial misunderstandings can occur while talking about the term “Chief” on board - because there's two of them: the “Chief Officer” (head of the deck department) and the “Chief Engineer” (head of the engine department). But “the Chief” is always the head of the machinery.

After more seafaring you'll get the authorization to work as head of the engine department. If you are deployed as such depends on your personality, your knowledge and experience and the personnel policy of your shipping company.

Together with the Captain the Chief presents the ship's management and he is the leader of the engine department. Regarding the engine department you are responsible for organisation, coordination and functionality of all machinery units. Because only if that is given the vessel gets from the port of departure to the next port of call – safe for all persons on board, safe for the cargo and safe for the sensitive environment.

As an authority figure and expert you are the ultimate decision-making authority for all problems and questions rising during operation of the ship's machinery. Therefore you need an immense technical knowledge in the fields of engines, electrical engineering, measurement and control technology, automation technology, plant operation, chemistry and dangerous goods, logical analysis, systematical problem investigation, commercial awareness and leadership. And most important: the ability to apply all these competences within the framework of existing international legislation.

Like in engineering jobs on shore the amount of paperwork is growing on board as well. In this regard the Chief has to take care of writing the engine log book. That involves careful documentation of oil- or fuel oil – transfer and of all maintenance work that has been carried out. It seems unnecessary during normal operation, but if a damage occurs and the insurance companies demand evidence correct bookkeeping is worth a lot.

As an marine engineer you also take action in safety matters – which gains in importance nowadays. No one is a born master – you will have the possibility to qualify your staff or take part in education of young engineers by passing your knowledge. To prevent accidents you are skilled in occupational safety, but even if an accident occurs the Chief has medical knowledge, firefighting skills and knows how to behave in any case of distress.

Be a Maritime Engineer

This variety of future tasks makes this job very appealing. There is hardly another profession that is approximately so versatile and diversified and you can express yourself as strong as here.

Not only the international area of activity but also the international crew on board provides an attractive working environment.

Further information regarding your career you can find here: German Shipowners Association.

Mayor fields of study

Mayor fields of study

Main points of the basic modules:

  • Mathematics / informatics
  • Physics / engineering mechanics
  • Electrical engineering / electronics
  • Thermodynamics
  • Measuring and regulation technology
  • Machine components
  • Safety management
  • Maritime traffic safety / fire prevention

Main points of the specific modules:

  • Processing machines
  • Maritime supply systems and deck machinery
  • Combustion engines / turbines
  • Dynamics of machines
  • Steam, air-conditioning and refrigeration technology
  • Working materials / dangerous goods
  • Facility management / tanker shipping
  • Electrical engines, propulsion systems and power electronics
  • Marine electrical engineering
  • Ship engine applications
  • Ship diesel engines and facilities
  • Ship maintenance
Admission requirements

Admission requirements

The Admission requirements (123 kB) are ready for you for download.

Further important/additional information regarding training and competence: please visit "German Flag".

The "Verordnung über die Befähigungen der Seeleute in der Seeschifffahrt (Seeleute-Befähigungsverordnung - See-BV)" in the relevant version encloses more information.

Student advisory service

Orientation day NSV/SBT


Bachelor of Science

Beginning of the course

Each winter semester

Duration of studies

8 semesters