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Marine engineering broadly refers to the engineering of boats, ships, oil rigs and any other marine vessel or structure. Specifically, marine engineering is the discipline of applying engineering sciences, mostly mechanical and electrical engineering, to the development, design, operation and maintenance of watercraft propulsion and on-board systems; e.g. power and propulsion plants, machinery, piping, automation and control systems etc. for marine vehicles of any kind like surface ships, submarines etc. Marine engineers and naval architects are similar professions. However, whereas naval architects are concerned with the overall design of the ship and its propulsion through the water, marine engineers are focused towards the main propulsion plant, the powering and mechanization aspects of the ship functions such as steering, anchoring, cargo handling, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electrical power generation and distribution, interior and exterior communication, and other related requirements. In some cases, the responsibilities of each industry collide and is not specific to either field. Propellers are examples of one of these types of responsibilities. For naval architects a propeller is a hydrodynamic device. For marine engineers a propeller acts similarly to a pump. Hull vibration, excited by the propeller, is another such area. Noise reduction and shock hardening must be the joint responsibility of both the naval architect and the marine engineer. In fact, most issues caused by machinery are responsibilities in general.
Not all marine engineering is concerned with moving vessels. Offshore construction, also called offshore engineering, ocean engineering or maritime engineering, is concerned with the technical design of fixed and floating marine structures, such as oil platforms and offshore wind farms.
There are many different types of unions in the maritime industry. Some unions are specifically for marine engineers, where some are for the maritime industry as a whole.
- Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (M.E.B.A) is the longest lasting maritime trade union to date. MEBA was founded in 1875. Its main represented group are licensed maritime officers in both the deck and engine department.
- SNAME The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) is a worldwide society that is focused on the advancement of the maritime industry. SNAME was founded in 1893.
- Kane, J.R. (1971). Marine Engineering. New York: SNAME (page 1)
- Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association, (2006) M.E.B.A History, Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association. Retrieved April 2, 2014 http://mebaunion.org/MEBA/m-e-b-a-history/
- Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers(2013) About SNAME, Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. Retrieved April 2, 2014 http://www.sname.org/Membership1/AboutSNAME
- American Maritime Officers, (December 24, 2013) About AMO, American Maritime Officers. Retrieved April 2, 2014 http://www.amo-union.org/Default~Page~AboutAMO.html