Electro-technical officer

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 electrical engineer is one of the most vital positions in the technical hierarchy of a ship and engineer is responsible for their assigned work under the chief engineer’s instructions.

Unlike 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, installations and testing.

Some shipping companies do not carry electrical officers on their ship to cut down the manning cost, and the electrical duties are carried by an engineer. This is usually the third engineer. However, many companies realized that electrical and electronic system requires some extra attention and therefore require an expert to attend them. This is especially true on diesel electric ships or vessels equipped with systems such as dynamic positioning.

On larger vessels such as cruise ships, electrotechnical 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 electrotechnical officer will report directly to the chief engineer. On special class ships such as FPSOs the electrotechnical 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 officer.

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