They are nicknamed the “Metal Surgeons” because of their ability to construct or reconstruct metals. A Ship Fitter is a petty officer on board whose job is to fabricate, welding, & mending the vessel structures onboard. The fitter is an engine room staff forming the engine rating.
It is the highest position amongst the engine department ratings. As a petty officer, the fitter position is equivalent to the bosun and pumpman in the deck department and the chief cook in the galley department.

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Daily Jobs are assigned to the fitter who reports directly to the 2nd Engineer. Since the ship structure is over 90% made of steel and metals, the importance of a fitter cannot be overemphasized. The primary work of a fitter is welding and fabricating of ship structures, especially when there is a defect, the jobs such as, but not limited to;

  • construction of piping systems
  • cutting of metal materials
  • machining
  • fabricating special tools and damage machinery parts
  • plumbing jobs
  • riveting & drilling
  • mending damaged or leaking pipelines
  • maintenance of deck piping systems
  • assisting in the maintenance and repairs in the in engine room
  • assisting in bunkering operations
  • engine workshop maintenance

Also, a fitter should be skilled in gas welding and cutting (use of oxyacetylene) because most of the metal materials onboard a ship are very thick, which requires heat cutting. The fitter does not necessarily work only in the engine room but also on deck, and accommodation may be assigned to the fitter. Two fitters are placed on board in some ships, one as an engine fitter and the other as a deck fitter, but their work is the same.


Due to the fitter’s kind of work, it is required that the fitter have good knowledge of safety procedures and actions in case of emergency, especially fire hazards. The fitter is needed to have at least;- 

  • STCW Basic Safety Training (mandatory) Certificate
  • Watchkeeping Certificate of Proficiency (CoP)
  • Trade Certificate in Welding & Fabrication
  • Other certification or document may be required depending on the vessel’s type, trade region, company’s policy.


In some vessels, the fitter can do the work of an oiler which they are referred to as “Fitter-Oiler.” However, a fitter works as a daysman, not as a watchkeeper, aside from this situation. The workings hours are from 0800H-1700H lunch and coffee breaks inclusive, after which is the resting time if there is no emergency work to be carryout.

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