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My take on an ETO
Posted: Monday, April 8, 2013 1:24 AM
Joined: 17/06/2008
Posts: 70

 A legitimate ETO is capable of much more than fiddling with AV, IT and communication systems.  

If someone tells me they are an ETO, I expect them to know how modern ships electrical and electronic systems function;

  •  Alarm, monitoring and automation system 
  •  Alternators 
  •  Diesel electric propulsion system 
  •  Lighting systems 
  •  Motor control systems 
  •  PLC I/O open and closed loop circuits 
  •  Power generation systems 
  •  Power management systems 
  •  Shore power systems 

I would also expect an ETO to know how to locate, operate, maintain, diagnose and repair all essential and non-essential electrical and electronic systems.

People regularly ask me if I have an ETO onboard and my answer is “No”.What I know about electrical and electronic systems came from 25 years field experiance, endless hours of looking over the shoulders of master electricians, books, the internet and the need to get the job done and keep things moving forward.

Finding good quality engineers is difficult, finding a real ETO is impossible.  

To be a chief on a modern yacht, you need strong electrical skills and must also be savvy with electronics. The operational principals of Electrical, Electronic, Hydraulic, Pneumatic and the associated open and closed loop controls are similar.

Fomralized education, training and certification of ETO's is just around the corner and if yachting can't develop, recruit and retain marine engineering officers how will they manage to breed specialist engineering staff like the ETO???????



Posted: Monday, April 8, 2013 10:22 AM

Dean I think that you need to differentiate between ETO and ITO.

I would say that most yachts under 100m don't need an ETO except if they are diesel electric and even then the normal engineering team are often able to cope.

ITO is a whole different game. IT/AV on yachts is getting extremely complex and becoming more and more important to the guests. If an owner if paying €40k+ a month for a V-Sat contract they usually expect it to work 100% of the time.

In the shore based world AV and IT would again be split between people but this only happens on the largets yachts at the moment.

Over about 70m an ITO is now pretty standard. The problem is below this as the systems are usually very similar but the normal engineers are meant to be able to magically fix systems that they have no formal training in.We all know a PDR usually fixes the problem but it is not proper fault finding.

As this is what I currently do I can tell you it can be quite stressful when the owner whats to stream something and the V-Sat keeps dropping out. Give me a failed injector or poor performing watermaker any day!

Posted: Monday, April 8, 2013 12:44 PM
Joined: 17/06/2008
Posts: 70

ITO, well said, thanks for making this clarification.


ETO is a completely different field as you say.

You are right keeping the V-Sat and Sat TV operational is stressful at times when the owner is on, especially when systems are poorly designed, installed and programmed. Mast blockages, overheating, electromagnetic interferences, voltage and frequency issues and so forth have plagued me and having a little more specialized training would have been beneficial.

As you double the size of a yacht the workloads quadruple as does the complexity of technical management. 

Specialized crew for larder yachts is much more common, having said that the fundamental problem I see yachting needing to address is the shortage of engineers in general.


Posted: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 2:42 AM
Joined: 02/04/2013
Posts: 3

Hey Dean, you sound like a guy with a lot of experience, so I was hesitant to post anything since I'm definitely in the greenhorn category in terms of yachting.  I'm a career residential AV/IT guy (of 10 years), but am looking to get into the industry as a 2nd engineer using my AV/IT skills as a bit of a leg up on others in the same position (a 2nd for yachts up to a certain size).  That may sound strange, but my mechanical background is pretty extensive as well.  I did my AEC, and I understand why people say it's a joke.  
Residential AV (high-end, big-time, FULL integration AV, that is) is a surprisingly hard business, and a hard one to find good employees for.  One reason, I suspect, is the lack of education and regulation.  There are no 'codes' to follow for low-voltage, like the high-volt guys are required to abide by, and very few standards overall.  So what you end up with is a bunch of under-qualified cowboys telling you that their you-know-what doesn't stink.  At the other end of the spectrum, IT guys tend to know crap about anything other than IT.  As a result, the pool of eligible ETO candidates is pretty shallow since there really is no on-shore equivalent for someone with that particular skill set.  
Like anonymous implied, give me a mechanical issue to troubleshoot over an electronic one anyday.  Especially when it's intermittent.  I know enough about electronics AND mechanics (including pneumatics, hydraulics, diesel and gas engines, lube and cooling systems, electrolysis, heat transfer, A/C and refrigeration, plumbing, auxiliary systems, etc, etc...) to conclude that I'd far rather try to be an engineer than an ETO.  

Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 8:48 AM
Joined: 15/02/2011
Posts: 18

Firstly I think that an ETO should be a fully qualified electrician or the marine equivalent. There is plenty of work

for ETO,s on vessels below 100 metres, not necessarily full time but certainly during refit and maintenence periods.

I would encourage anyone that is an electrician with IT/AV skills to give yachting a go as a career but the AEC

and STCW safety courses would be the minimum requirements for entry.

I see this field of yachting as one of great potential and almost unlimited demand.


Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 9:29 AM
Joined: 26/02/2013
Posts: 1

"Finding good quality engineers is difficult, finding a real ETO is impossible."   

Well of course it is since to be a qualified ETO on a yacht for most crew agencies one need to have experience from a yacht (even only as a deckhand). To have a master in electronics, computers etc with on land experience from the industry counts for noting. To get a good ETO demand to look at all the CV with formal electrical, computer etc education at master level. The interview the candidates. If they don't know everything (which no one does) they will likely understand it fast since they have the toolbox in form of a good theoretical and practical education.  

And do not forget that a lot of these engineers developed a lot of equipment and now will maintain. It's a lot harder to develop something than maintain. 

 The industry painted it self in a corner since the only way in is to start as a deckhand and work yourself up. Therefor i's going to be a huge lack of Yacht Engineers, ETOs etc.  


Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 8:18 PM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1061

I also expect them to have a GMDSS Maintainer as well as Radio Technician qualifications.
Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013 12:09 PM
Joined: 16/09/2011
Posts: 1

I think a good ETO should be able to cook  a nice pasta as well plus all that all of you already mentioned , GMSS , IT/AV , CISCO , Automation system , hydraulic , plumbing , PLC , etc etc .

I been 8 years ETO , and almost 6 years engineer ( 3 , 2nd , 1st , and now CE ) between Ferry and cruise ships and now yacht , everyday I have to look on internet for understand something , and I think that also if someone pay my salary for 14 years I think I did something ,  in engineering field you can never say " I know all " , the peoples that say that just have no clue . Unfortunately in the yacht industry I meet all the time captain that they started as deckhand , never been at any maritime school , ( example one got the sea time on his dad's sail boat ) , so they think you can fix everything they pay your salary so you should be superman , the first time I joined a yacht as ETO the captain told me " my new blackberry doesn't work , fix it I have to go to the airport in 10 m ".

please change your way of thinking , if you want a good crew , a good ETO or engineer , hire a good and reliable guy , send him for a course, paid for ,  based on what you have on board , and after you have just pray that you as captain or company / yacht representative have made the right investment .

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013 1:37 AM
Joined: 27/11/2012
Posts: 9


Super Yacht/Mega Yacht Electronic Systems

Require Super-Mega E- Technician Crew!


              Fredrick Gary Hareland


 I was recently perusing the interesting pages of "Boat International USA,"and as a commercial mariner was very impressed with the amount of sophisticated, state-of-the-art electronic systems onboard the modern yacht. It would appear that the distinction between yacht and commercial ship are being morphed together by their common reliance on hi-technology electronics. Both type of vessels require the following onboard electrical/electronic systems; Generators, Bow & Stern Thrusters, Entertainment, Security, Communication,

Navigation, Fire-control, Water makers, Marine Sanitation Device, Stabilizers, Propulsion Monitoring and

Control Systems. The real common denominator in all of this is the degree of complexity involved with all

of these systems and the ramped up   technical knowledge,skills,and abilities required of onboard maintainers so necessary for troubleshooting and repair of these vital electronics.

   The onboard electronic maintainer faced with such a variety and diversity of systems needs to be competent in no less than ten shore side technical specialties. He or she needs to be skilled in the following types of electronic/computer fields that ashore are filled by no less than ten different types of dedicated /specialized technicians. Modern ET's need to be computer techs, network techs, instrumentation techs, communication techs, radar techs, telecommunication techs, digital techs, control electronic techs, power electronic techs, and an ace electrician to boot !

   The big question is where to find such super technicians and how to rate and evaluate them for duty onboard your yacht. I believe that personnel with these qualifications can be found basically in the yacht crewing industry, various maritime officer unions, and from commercial and government mariner pools. The really qualified guys from the yacht crewing industry are probably already employed on somebody else’s yacht so that leaves the unions and the commercial mariner pool. Unions are a two edged sword in that electronic-communications officers are well trained but in the long run they are working for the union and not directly for you as a yacht owner. If you want absolute loyalty and position longevity of your prized asset, better to opt for door number three......the commercial and government mariner pool. If I were looking to hire an onboard electronics maintainer for a modern mega yacht, I'd look for an "Electronic Technician-Tanker" with a few years experience as a government mariner working for the Military Sealift Command onboard their Kaiser Class Unrep Tankers. I have three important reasons for my aforementioned preference and will enumerate them for potential crew hiring authorities.

   1. Kaiser class tankers have automated engine rooms and as such carry the USCG designation "ACCU" on their Certificate of Inspection, thus allowing for an unmanned or minimally manned engine room. Because of this degree of automation MSC ET's acquire ample experience and opportunity to perfect at least seven of the ten skill sets we talked about previously. Kaiser class engine room experience develops electronic skill sets to a high degree except for the communications, radar, and telecommunications specialties .To illustrate this point let me relate my own experience of landing a journeyman level instrumentation tech job at a nearby chemical plant ashore, based on my shipboard engine room automation experience.

  2. Kaiser class tankers afford the electronic technician a veritable potpourri of experience troubleshooting various and diverse electronic systems from marine sanitation devices to evaporator water maker sensors and controls and even cyclo-converters.The following is just a partial list of systems the ET is responsible for...remote I/O's,permissive panels, microwave tank level system, flooding & ballast alarm system, fire alarm system, bilge level system, switchboard programmable controllers, stack smoke detection system, main diesel engine oily mist detector,3cm & 10cm radars,dopler speed log system,fathometer,ships gyro compass, ships automatic pilot, ships interior communications system, ships hand held VHF radio's.

  3. The third reason for preferring MSC Kaiser Class tanker electronic technicians is that in my many years of sailing the oceans onboard military and commercial vessels it has been my keen observation that the best and smartest ET's were the ones that I relieved on the tankers.

   The following is a list of additional qualifications that applicants for mega yacht electronic technician officer or communications officers should possess.(*=mandatory,  + =an extra plus to have, but not vital)

·         FCC General Radio Operators License*

·         FCC Radar Endorsement*

·         FCC GMDSS Operator License*

·         FCC GMDSS Maintainer License*

·         USCG GMDSS STCW*


·         USCG MMD/Electrician*

·         COMPTIA A+ Hardware certification+

·         COMPTIA A+ Network certification+

·         AAS Degree in Electronics+

·         NARTE certified telecommunications technician+

·         NMEA certified marine electronic technician+

·         Certified Fiber-Optic Technician+

·         Certified Hi-reliability soldering+


You will be fortunate to find a candidate for mega yacht ET who can meet all of the above requirements; however it would be wise to choose an individual who can meet as many of the above criterion as possible. Now my last piece of advice for yacht owners is to remember that you did not skimp on the cost of your mega yacht and for good reasons......the same reasons that tell you not to skimp on the quality and remuneration of your yachts electronic maintainer/communications officer.


If there are any further questions or any reasons to contact me, please feel free to do so at the following e-mail address:          








Posted: Monday, August 18, 2014 8:51 AM
Joined: 18/08/2014
Posts: 1




Not-looking-after-One-Vessel but-63-Offshore-Supply-Ships.

ETO's-some  lazy-  some-are-ok
















Cap'n C
Posted: Monday, August 18, 2014 3:53 PM
Joined: 29/04/2009
Posts: 38

Well, taking into consideration that offshore, oil, oil service, survey, ROV, seismic wind or well services, an ETO will always have a 1-1 rotation, always a sizeable no-share ensuite cabin, an anual salary of about 100-150k USD, full medical and all travels to/fro paid in full, I'd say the yachting industry has some way to go to be competitive! Day rates for freelancers/sicktemps of 900-1200 USD is not unheard of! Even more, good ETO's usually end up on the client side as survey techs, ROV techs and what not, ending up with 150-250k annually.
Posted: Saturday, May 30, 2015 9:47 PM
Joined: 13/10/2014
Posts: 1

I have come from an aviation background and have spent ten years dealing with Avionics, radars, lighting, ventilation, fuel and hydraulic control plus everything in between. 
I am currently a sole engineer on a SY and have found the crossover electronics wise very simple. Power generation is slightly different and aircraft don't tend to need grounding!
My next role will be to go back to my electronic roots and have found my recent experience on the yacht to be a good confidence booster. I for one will be going ETO!