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  • Writer's pictureL.J. Singh

My Ship - My Second Home

I have served in Merchant for nearly a quarter of a century, joining at the lowest rank as 5th Engineer and leaving after over 17 years at the highest rank of Chief Engineer. Since before starting my career in Merchant Navy, I was married and my wife was expecting our first child, while leaving home, after a long separation from my family, I had feelings of frustration. But a job is a job, if I don't like obligations and requirements for my service, there are many willing to serve in Merchant Navy. But when leaving my home to join my duty, I always asked my wife to see me off at home only, and not at the railway station, only my father and a cousin used to accompany me and remain till the departure of the train.

However, when coming back home, my wife was always at the railway station or at the Airport if I came by air. This helped a lot to accept the situation whenever I felt pangs of separation while leaving home. In the course of time, as I progressed in my career, I got promoted to higher ranks and responsibilities, and my feelings were getting more and more under my control. While in all these separations, my wife's willingly accepting obligations of my duty was a very big factor which kept me quite satisfied with my job. The significance of my wife's part, during our long separation, in bringing up my sons in the best possible way, can never be ignored.

Ship Captain and Team mates

After leaving home to join my service in Bombay, there wasn't any communication with my wife for over a week, as the mobile telephone was yet not available. After reporting to my head office. I was given my posting details, like where and which ship I would join to take charge as chief engineer. Only then I used to post my letter with all the details and addresses of the local agents of the ports where my ship was scheduled to visit. After joining my ship and taking over from the outgoing chief engineer, which took, a day or two, sometimes more if any discussion about some problem was needed. After the departure of the relieved chief engineer, settling down to grapple with and solve problems, if any, my personal worry about the separation from my family persisted till I got a letter from my wife, some weeks after when I left home. Then I got down to acquaint myself with my new family, my shipmates, from whom I tried to know about their families.

Ship Captain and teammates

My keen interest in the welfare of my assistants, both officers and crew members, helped me to quite an extent to get over separation pangs from my own family. So after about two voyages, each of nearly 4 to 5 months, I used to apply for my annual leave. And when the sanction of my leave came through, I started packing my huge gear. When my replacement, the taking over Chief Engineer took charge, I called my ship-mates, to say goodbyes. That is the time when I had quite some familiar departure feelings, like the one I had while leaving my family at Amritsar. When the conveyance came to take me for attending to signing off and some other formalities, I felt the same attachment to my ship which had been a second home for me, very much similar to my family at home. And throughout my return journey back home, my many memorable incidents during my stay on the just-left ship kept coming to my mind till I reached my eagerly awaiting family and got their affection.

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Retd Chief Engineer(IMS)

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