Ranks of Seafarers

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When we talk about seafarers the famous sailors come in our mind are people like Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, Amerigo Vespucci & Sir James Cook etc. Actually all these people were Masters (also called as Captain/Master mariner) onboard Sailing ships.

Sailing is a team work, so it needs different ranks to carry out specific duties.

Nowadays shipping has improved a lot, with modern electronic equipments & machineries. You can imagine a ship like a moving factory with it’s cargo. The ship consists ranks such as Master, Chief Mate(also called Chief Officer), 2nd Mate(also called 2nd Officer), 3rd Mate(also called 3rd Officer), Deck Cadets, Chief Engineer,2nd Engineer,3rd Engineer,4th Engineer, Engine Cadets, Electrician, Boatswain(also called Bosun /Deck Foreman),Pump man, Able bodied Seaman(AB)(also called Quarter  Master), Ordinary Seaman(OS), Fitters, Oilers, Wipers(also called Motorman), Chief Cook & Steward etc.

Actually it is known as Master & Crew in real circumstances, because master is not considered as part of the crew, but is considered as Owner’s representative. Anyhow crew list indicates Master’s name as well.

In Olden days there were no Marine Engineers onboard because those days ships were sailing ships & used sails. Later when power driven vessels were introduced, these ranks were added to shipping. Two decades ago ships had some other ranks such as Radio Officer, Carpenter, Store Keeper, 2nd Cook, 2nd Steward & Purser etc. But nowadays these ranks hardly exist.

A ship in order to be seaworthy, among the other things ship must be sufficiently manned, to enable the safe operation. The requirements for safe manning are contained in the STCW 95(VIII) regulations & it stated by Flag state as well. Let us see about these ranks & their responsibilities.

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Master

The Master is the person holding the Deck Class – I certificate of competency (COC) (Unlimited/Foreign going) .He is the commanding person of the ship & the highest ranked Deck Officer.

It is normally said & believed that if you consider the ship as an island the Master is considered as the King of that island. But that doesn’t mean if he tells, to jump into the sea crew will do it.   

Master is having superior power over other ranks & he has the ability to dismiss any crew member from the ship under reasonable circumstances. A good Master will always care about the safety of his crew more than any other thing. When it comes to ship or Life, it is always the person’s life.

Duties & Responsibilities of Master are as follows

1.   Overall in charge for the safety of the crew, ship & Cargo.

2.   Commanding the ship. He should be present in the Bridge while arriving & leaving Ports, In shallow waters, During reduced visibility, Any equipment malfunctions, In any emergency, When other Navigation officers are unable to handle the ship during heavy traffic, & During any abnormal situations.

3.   Implementing law & order onboard ship.

4.   He is the person to sign Bill of lading for cargo.

5.   Though Chief Engineer is the person in charge for Engine room, the Engines are at Master’s disposal.

6.   Taking disciplinary actions against any crew member. If the crew member is from Engine Department Chief Engineer to be consulted as well.

7.   He should arrange provisions, stores, fuel (bunkers) (under Chief Engineer`s guidance), Garbage disposals, Shore passes, Salary particulars & cash advance etc.

8.   In port handling Port authorities, Immigration authorities, Custom authorities, Narcotics authorities etc.

9.   Assisting any other vessel in Emergency.

10. Training the crew & conducting effective drills.

11. The Master is the person to contact the office directly from the ship & person to be contacted by the office for any matter onboard.

12. In case of abandoning the ship in an emergency, the verbal order has to be given by the Master.

13. Master’s decision is final, whether right or wrong crew has to stick to it during that particular moment.   

 

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Chief Mate

 

The Chief Officer is a person holding Deck Class-II certificate of competency. He may hold the Class-I COC as well. With further experience or exams he will become a master.

His duties & responsibilities are as follows

1.   He has to load & discharge the Cargo. Preparing loading & discharging plans for cargo.

2.   At sea his Bridge watches are 0400AM – 0800 PM & 1600PM – 2000 PM.

3.   He is the person in charge for Deck & all deck ratings, Bosun, Pump man, ABs, OSs, Chief Cook & Steward. He is the one to give daily work schedule for them.

4.   Most of the time he acts as the vessel’s safety officer & he can delegate his duties regarding safety to 3rd Mate.

5.   Maintenance of Deck & overhauling of Deck machineries.

6.   Anchoring the vessel at anchorage.

7.   In charge on deck for any emergency & reporting master as appropriate.

8.   Making repair lists & indents.

9.   Handling mooring stations.

10.GMDSS communication.

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2nd Mate

 

The 2nd Mate is a person holding Deck Class-III certificate of competency. He may hold the Class-I, Class -II COC as well. With further experience or exams he will become a Chief Mate.

His duties & responsibilities are as follows

1.   Passage planning is the main job of 2nd Mate. He has to select charts, draw courses & distance to be calculated.

2.   At sea his Bridge watches are 0000AM – 0400AM & 1200PM – 1600 PM.

3.   Correcting charts, Sailing Directions, List of light & Fog signals, Radio signals & updating Navigational warnings etc.

4.   Preparing Noon Reports, reporting the vessel E.g. AMVER

5.   Testing of Bridge equipments.

6.   Preparing Deck log abstract at the end of each month.

7.   In charge of GMDSS communication.

8.   Maintaining ship`s library & publications in order.

9.   Assisting Chief Mate in port while cargo loading & discharging. At port his duty time is 0000AM – 0600AM & 1200PM – 1800 PM.

10. Handling mooring stations.

11. Acting as the Medical Officer.                       

   

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3rd Mate

 

The 3rd Mate is a person holding Deck Class-III certificate of competency. He may hold the Class-I, Class -II COC as well. With further experience he will become a 2nd Mate.

His duties & responsibilities are as follows

1.   Maintenance of Life Saving Equipments & Fire Fighting equipments under Safety Officer`s instruction.

2.   At sea his Bridge watches are 2000PM – 0000AM & 0800AM – 1200 PM.

3.   Preparing drill reports.

4.   Handling port papers on behalf of master.

5.   GMDSS communication.

6.   Assisting Chief Mate in port while cargo loading & discharging. At port, his duty time is 0600AM – 1200PM & 1800PM – 0000AM. 

7. Handling mooring stations.                                     

Deck Cadet

 

The Deck Cadet is a trainee Navigation Officer. He may be a fresher to sea. He has to perform & learn jobs under Chief Officer. He does various jobs starting from cleaning to Navigating ships. The Deck cadet must never be used as a cheap labourer by his seniors. He must be taught & guided.

 

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Chief Engineer

 

The Chief engineer is the person holding the Engine Class – I Certificate (Unlimited/Foreign going) .He is the overall in charge for Engine Room & the highest ranked Engineer Officer.

His duties & responsibilities as follows

1.   He should give work orders for Engine room & check the progress of work. He should be present in Engine room during major maintenance works.  E.g. Piston overhauling

2.   Bunker Calculations. The 4th Engineer assists him for this work.

3.   Implementing law & order in Engine room.

4.   He is the person to handle the Main Engine during critical periods.

5.   Most of the technical jobs come under him & he will report to company with Master’s approval.

6.   In charge for Engine during any emergency & reporting master as appropriate.

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2nd Engineer

 

The Second engineer is the person holding the Engine Class – II Certificate (Unlimited/Foreign going). He may hold the Class-I COC as well. With further experience or exams he will become a Chief Engineer.

His duties & responsibilities are as follows

1.   He is the Chief Engineers assistant & he is the one who performs most of the jobs on behalf of Chief Engineer.

2.   All machinery items, steering gears, Pumps, auxiliary machinery & main engine maintenance come under him.

3.   At sea, his Engine watches are 0400AM – 0800AM & 1600PM – 2000PM.But nowadays most of the ships are equipped with UMS(Unmanned Machinery Spaces) system so he has to work 0800AM-1700PM.

4.   He is the person assistant in charge for Engine room & all Engine ratings, Fitters, Oilers & Wipers comes under him. He is the one to give daily the work schedule for them.

5.    Making repair lists & indents.

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3rd Engineer

 

The Third Engineer is the person holding the Engine Class – III Certificate (Unlimited/Foreign going). He may hold the Class-I , Class- II COC as well. With further experience or exams he will become a 2nd Engineer.

His duties & responsibilities as follows

1.   Operation & Maintenance of Generators.

2.   Operation & Maintenance of Boilers.

3.   Conducting Boiler water test & cooling water tests.

4.   Operation & Maintenance of propulsion machinery cylinder head mountings.

5.   At sea his Engine watches are 0000AM – 0400AM & 1200PM – 1600PM.But nowadays most of the ships are equipped with UMS(Unmanned Machinery Spaces) system, so he has to work 0800AM-1700PM.

 

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4th Engineer

 

The Fourth Engineer is the person holding the Engine Class – III Certificate (Unlimited/Foreign going). He may hold the Class-I, Class- II COC as well. With further experience he will become a 3rdEngineer.

His duties & responsibilities are as follows

1.   Taking bunkers & assisting Chief Engineer in bunker calculations.

2.   Operation & maintenance of Sewage plant.

3.   Operation & maintenance of Incinerator.

4.   Operation & maintenance of Oily water separator.

5.   Operation & maintenance of Fresh water Generator.

6.   Operation & Maintenance of Air Compressor.

7.   Management of Sludge & Bilge.

8.   At sea his Engine watches are 0800AM – 1200PM & 2000PM – 0000AM.But nowadays most of the ships are equipped with UMS(Unmanned Machinery Spaces)system, so he has to work 0800AM-1700PM.

Engine Cadet

 

The Engine Cadet is a trainee Engineer Officer. He may be a fresher to sea. He has to perform & learn jobs under 2nd Engineer. He does various jobs starting from Bilge cleaning to operating the Main Engine. The Engine cadet must never be used as a cheap labourer by his seniors. He must be taught & guided.

 

Electrician

The Electrician doesn’t hold a Certificate of Competency. But his rank is equal to 2nd Mate & 3rd Engineer. He will work under Chief Engineer. He performs various jobs related to Electricity starting from changing light bulbs to Generator repairs. Electricians start as Electrician cadet or they come from Ex Navy. 

 

 

Bosun

The Bosun is the Deck Foreman or Crew’s spokesman. The senior AB will become the Bosun. He will perform various jobs on Deck. Wire splicing, Mixing paints, Cleaning, arranging stores, assisting Chief Mate during Anchoring & most of the time supervising the Deck ratings. He must bring any problem related to the crew to Chief Mate’s concern.

 

Pump man

The Pump man rank exists only on Tanker Ships. This rank is equal to Bosun. But most of the time he works independently & takes job orders directly from Chief Mate.  He plays a major part during loading & discharging, mainly opening valves as per Chief Mate’s instruction, taking Ullages & soundings etc.

 

Able Bodied seaman

The AB is a person who does maintenance work on deck. He does Chipping, Painting, Washing, Cleaning, Greasing Equipment etc. He will also steer the ship & assist duty officer in Bridge watch. The AB with experience, can become a Bosun.

 

Ordinary seaman

The OS is a person who does maintenance work on deck. He does Chipping, Painting, Washing, Cleaning, Greasing Equipment etc. The difference between OS & AB is that OS will not steer the ship & he will not assist the Bridge watch. The Ordinary seaman with experience, steering practice & with a certified watch keeping, can become an AB.

 

 

Fitter

The Fitter is a person who is expert in welding, grinding, boring & gas cutting. He operates Lathe Machine as well. Most of the time he works in the Engine department under 2nd Engineer. But you find Deck fitters & Voyage fitters as well. His rank is equal to Bosun.

 

Oiler

The Oiler is a person who does maintenance work in Engine room. He assists the duty Engineer at watch(if the ship is not a UMS ship). They assist Engineers in overhauling Machinery, Cleaning & Painting etc. This rank is equal to AB. At times the oiler with experience may become as a Pump man.

 

Wiper

The Wiper is a person who does cleaning jobs in Engine room. They also assist Engineers in overhauling of Machinery. With experience he may become an Oiler.

 

 

 

Chief Cook

The Chief Cook is a person who prepares meals for all personnel onboard. It is a very critical job with Multi National crew. Because each person will like different food & different cooking style. Most of the time food will be prepared to suit the majority crew’s nationality style. But the Master’s & senior officer’s nationality also play a major part. Chief Cook must be able to write in English & he must know the names of the food items. He must also know the different menu. He has to assist Master when ordering for provisions. His rank is equal to Bosun.

 

Steward

The Steward is Chief Cook’s assistant. He must help Chief cook in cooking, specially cleaning & cutting vegetables. He must serve food for all Officers & he should be present in Officer’s mess during meal times. He has to wash all plates & cutleries. He cleans officer’s cabins & wash linen etc. His rank is equal to OS.

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Comments 2 comments

jodii 4 years ago

i just hated seniors because some of them treated lower rank people as cheap labourers instead of guiding them in order to learn :/


bob 8 months ago

hi,

its OS here, i want to know that. is Ordinary seaman can reach the rank of a captain . ?

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