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From Deck Cadet to Maritime Officer
Kwok Ka-him continues to steam ahead in his maritime career journey
  • <p>“If you are looking for a rewarding and challenging career coupled with the opportunity to travel and experience the world, there are few better than ones in the maritime industry.”</p>
  • <p>“If you are looking for a rewarding and challenging career coupled with the opportunity to travel and experience the world, there are few better than ones in the maritime industry.”</p>
  • <p>“If you are looking for a rewarding and challenging career coupled with the opportunity to travel and experience the world, there are few better than ones in the maritime industry.”</p>

“If you are looking for a rewarding and challenging career coupled with the opportunity to travel and experience the world, there are few better than ones in the maritime industry.”

Jul 2016

Life is a journey full of adventures. If you are looking for a rewarding and challenging career coupled with the opportunity to travel and experience the world, there are few better than ones in the maritime industry. Kwok Ka-him, a graduate from Maritime Services Training Institute (MSTI), has embarked on an exciting and unique career journey over the last ten years.

Mr. Kwok explained the unique nature of a job in the maritime field, “The diversity of people you meet during your career and the friendships you foster along the way are unmatchable by any other industry.” Working in the maritime industry also provides the scope to learn a large number of different work skills. He added, “Whether you enroll as a Deck Cadet—working alongside others of the same or higher rank, or as an Engineering Officer—operating and maintaining the propulsion plants and various mechanical equipment aboard the vessel; work in this field is never dull.”

In view of all the benefits that the maritime field offers, Mr. Kwok made his choice to pursue a lifelong career in the industry. After obtaining a Bachelor Degree in Social Science, he then chose to study a diploma at MSTI and finally, after graduation, enrolled as a deck cadet. He explained, “If you’re planning on captaining a merchant vessel as your ultimate goal then a Higher Diploma of Maritime Studies is your first port of call to begin your journey. This will provide the best groundwork to be competent in moving through each rank on anmerchant vessel.”

Maritime careers bring enormous responsibilities, and a ship’s captain is ultimately responsible for everything on board. Mr. Kwok explained, “A container ship is worth US$40 million at a minimum without counting the cargo—so a lot rides on the shoulders of captains.” To ensure candidates are ready for this, the training process to get from school to Captain is both intensive and comprehensive.
Mr. Kwok, combining knowledge gained throughout his studies with hands-on experience, was quickly promoted to Second Officer. He then furthered his studies by obtaining a Bachelor of Nautical Science at the Maritime College at the University of Tasmania, Australia. Following that, he was promoted to his most recent position as Chief Officer. He is in charge of the entire deck operations and is one of the most important ‘arms’ of the Captain—as almost everyone on board, except mechanics, reports to him. The position requires attention to detail and strong decision making skills.

Traversing oceans and crossing numerous international boundaries obviously throws up unique and unexpected challenges along the way. During times of crises, a decisive mind and teamwork are essential to help keep everyone safe. Mr. Kwok recounted the time when his vessel sailed through an active pirate zone off the coast of Somalia. When an approaching pirate vessel was spotted, the Captain and Mr. Kwok had to quickly evaluate the situation and decide upon evasive action and the best route to minimise possible danger. The mechanics also played a vital role in this process in immediately powering up the vessel’s engines to achieve full speed and help evade the pirates—illustrating how mechanical engineers play a critical role on board. He explained, “The Captain may have ultimate power, but there is nothing he can do if the engines are not working. In fact, everyone on the vessel is an indispensable member of the team.”

There are a multitude of work avenues iFn the maritime field. After being an ocean-going seafarer for 10 years, Mr. Kwok will soon start the next chapter in his career as a Maritime Officer in the Marine Department. Nostalgically, during his last sailing as the Chief Officer, Mr. Kwok was working onboard OOCL Zhoushan—the very same vessel he served on his first day as a Deck Cadet. Over the years, the vessel has certainly played its part in charting his career progress. In future, even though Mr. Kwok will work on land, he still has plenty of steam left to further his career in the maritime industry.

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