Chief engineer in the engine room of MF Bastø II, a Norwegian ferry
Chief engineer in the engine room of MF Bastø II, a Norwegian ferry

A chief engineer, commonly referred to as "ChEng" or "Chief", is the most senior engine officer of an engine department on a ship, typically a merchant ship, and holds overall leadership and the responsibility of that department.[1] As a person who holds one of the most senior roles on the ship, they must have excellent communication and leadership skills. They will be expected to regularly work alongside other crew members and external consultants, and most importantly, provide guidance to their team.

To be a chief engineer, an engineer must attain a chief engineer's license appropriate to the tonnage, power rating, and type of ship that they are employed on. A chief engineer is ultimately responsible for all operations and maintenance that has to do with any and all engineering equipment throughout the entire ship, and supervises all other engineering officer and engine ratings within the department.[2]

United States

Job requirements

Job description

Designed courses for potential chief engineers

Courses for potential Chief Engineers are designed by experienced engineers who had spent years in the field of engineering already, "To determine the topics that should be included in the certificate, the team undertook an analysis of existing company training materials that were being used for training their senior level project and systems engineers."[5]

A similar training program for potential Chief Engineers, the Certified Chief Engineer (CCE) Training is also being developed by the National Association of Hotel & Lodging Engineers.[6] The development process of CCE includes gathering the input of various hotel management companies and industry professions.[6] CCE program is designed to provide a curriculum exclusively for hotel engineers and maintenance professionals.[6]

Notable representatives

NOAA Ship, Nancy Foster
NOAA Ship, Nancy Foster

George Hairston: A US Coast Guard Licensed Chief Engineer, who graduated from State University of New York Maritime College. Hairston had sailed on a United States Naval Ship spearhead.[7]

Patrick K. Brown: A US Coast Guard Licensed Chief Engineer, who was associated with discharging waste oil directly overboard.[8] As a result, Chief Engineer Brown faced up to five years of prison time, a potential fine, and a term of probation up to five years.[8]

Tim Olsen: An U.S Coast Guard Licensed Chief Engineer, who sailed on NOAA Ship Nancy Foster, an oceanographic research vessel[9] that became the first U.S. Government ship to visit Cuba since the reestablishment of diplomatic relations.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Marine Chief Engineer
  2. ^ International Maritime Organization; Chief Engineers Association; Fanning Communications, Inc. "III: Standards Regarding the Engine Department". International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers 1978; Chief Engineer Magazine 1934. Section A–III/1.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (2018, July 24). Marine operations. Retrieved February 28, 2019, from
  4. ^ a b Ship doctor. (2011, July 13). Hindustan Times (New Delhi, India). Retrieved from
  5. ^ Robertson, John (June 2004). "The Design of a Certificate Course for Chief Engineers". 2004 Annual Conference Proceedings. pp. 9.1246.1–9.1246.7. doi:10.18260/1-2--12752.
  6. ^ a b c National Association of Hotel & Lodging Engineers. (February 28, 2019). Certified Chief Engineer training. Retrieved  from
  7. ^ "George Hairston". Sea Power. 59 (2): 52–53. 2016.
  8. ^ a b Former Chief Engineer Arraigned on Charges Related to Vessel Pollution. (2007, August 24). PR Newswire (USA). Retrieved from
  9. ^ a b National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (March 07, 2018) NOAA Ship Nancy Foster makes a historic visit to Cuba. Retrieved from