The Electro Technical Officer (ETO) is a licensed member of the engine department of a merchant ship as per Section A-III/6 of the STCW Code.
Sometimes referred to as the Electrical Engineer or simply electrician, the Electro-Technical Officer is in charge of all the electrical systems on the ship. The Marine Electrical Engineer is one of the most vital positions in the technical hierarchy of a ship and is responsible for their assigned work under the Chief Engineer’s overview.
Epaulettes worn by the Electro Technical Officer on merchant ships
Unlike other marine engineers, the ETO does not carry out an assigned engine room «watch» instead they are normally on call 24 hours a day and generally work a daily shift carrying out electrical and electronic maintenance, repairs, diagnosis, installations and testing.
Some shipping companies do not carry Electrical Engineer Officers on their ship to cut down the manning cost, and the electrical duties are carried by a marine engineer - usually the third engineer. However, this situation has changed a lot and many companies have realized that modern electrical and electronic systems require an extra attention and therefore require an expert to attend them. This is especially true on diesel-electric ships or vessels equipped with sophisticated systems such as dynamic positioning.
On larger vessels such as cruise ships or specialized offshore DP vessels, Electro-Technical Officers can have ranks within their profession, such position names include, lead ETO, 1st Electrician, chief electrical officer or chief electrical engineer. In this situation, the highest ranked Electro Technical officer will report directly to the chief engineer. On special class ships such as FPSOs the Electro Technical officer can sometimes earn nearly the same wage as a chief engineer due to the complexity of the electrical systems on the ship.
As the technology advances, more automation and electronic circuits are replacing conventional and electrical systems. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) amended STCW 95 (also known as the Manila Amendment) on June 25, 2010, to introduce the certified position of Electro-technical officer in place of Electrical officers in order to make modern Electrical Engineers competent to understand complex and sophisticated electrical systems.
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