Ranks in Merchant Shipping 2


What are the various Ranks in Merchant Navy Shipping ? What is the
hierarchy, roles and duties associated with each of these ranks onboard a
Ship ? What is the general and simple guide to understand the nature of
each rank and responsibilities onboard a sailing ship?

Generally, when we imagine about Seaman or seafarers, famous names and people such as Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan, Amerigo Vespucci & Sir James Cook etc. come to our mind. Infact, these famous and great people were known as Masters (also called as Captain / Master mariner) on-board Sailing ships.

Before we go any further, it is imperative to understand that the term ‘Sailing’ is a team-work, and therefore there is a requirement of various people with specific ranks to carry out specific duties and responsibilities on-board a ship.

In today’s scenario, Shipping has had a lot of improvements with all new modern electronic equipment and machines. A ship can be imagined just like a modern moving factory with all cargo on-board.

The ship consists of common ranks such as described in the image below

In good olden days, there were no ranks such as ‘Marine Engineer Officer’ on board the ship, because those days ships were sailing ships & used sails. Eventually, when power driven vessels were introduced, these ranks were later added. Even around 2-3 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 onboard except for Passenger Ships.

A ship in order to be seaworthy, among the other things ship must be sufficiently manned, to enable the safe operation more particularly known as ‘Safe Manning Requirements’. The requirements for safe manning are contained in the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) regulations as amended and  it regulated by Flag states as well.


Let us see about these ranks & their responsibilities in general.

Master / Captain / Ship’s Captain / Ship Master

DutiesIn charge of a merchant ship

Other namesship's captain, ship's master, shipmaster, captain, master and other admittable variants

Requirementsmaster's license or extra master's license or commissioned officer

WatchstanderIf needs

DepartmentSenior deck officer

LocationAt sea

Reports toShip's Flag State Authorities, sea's, coasts' and ports' State Authorities, owner and charterer

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

The Master is having superior powers over all other designated ranks onboard the ship and he holds the power and authority to dismiss any crew member from the ship under reasonable circumstances. A Master / Good Captain will always care about the safety of his crew more than any other thing.

The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including: ship's seaworthiness, ship's safety and security conditions, cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws, as well as company and flag state policies.

All persons on board, particularly during navigation, including, public authorities, state authorities, officers and crew, other shipboard staff members, passengers, guests and pilots, are under the captain's authority and are his or her ultimate responsibility.

In-fact, on-board a Sailing Ship, usually they refer the term ‘Master and Crew’ in real circumstances, because the Master (Captain) is not considered as part of the crew, but is considered as the Ship Owner’s representative on-board the Ship. Even otherwise, the crew list would indicate the Master’s name as well.

Some of the basic Duties and Responsibilities of the Master are as detailed below;
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 on-board 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 on-board.

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.

 


Chief Mate / Chief Officer / Chief Deck Officer

DutiesCargo officer, Deck department head

Watch (at sea)Varies (0400-0800, 1600-2000)

Watch (in port)Varies (0800-1700)

Other namesChief officer; Boss Man

RequirementsChief Mate's License

DepartmentDeck department

Reports toCaptain

 

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.

The chief mate is responsible to the Master of the Ship for the safety and security of the ship.

His duties & responsibilities are as follows

1. He has to load & discharge the Cargo. Preparing the 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 3rdMate.

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.

 


 

Second Mate / Second Officer / Second Deck officer

DutiesNavigator, GMDSS Officer, Medical Officer

Watch (at sea)Mate on watch (00:00-04:00, 12:00-16:00)

Watch (in port)Mate on watch (00:00-06:00, 12:00-1800)

Other namesSecond officer; Able Mate

DepartmentDeck department

LocationOnboard Ship

 

The second mate is the third in command (or on some ocean liners fourth) and a watchkeeping officer, customarily the ship's navigator. Other duties vary, but the second mate is often the medical officer  and in charge of maintaining distress signaling equipment. On oil tankers, the second mate usually assists the chief mate with the Cargo operations.

The Navigator's role focuses on creating the ship's passage plans. A passage plan is a comprehensive, step by step description of how the voyage is to proceed from berth to berth or one port to another. The plan includes undocking, departure, the en route portion of a voyage, approach, and mooring at the destination.

The GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System) officer role consists of performing tests and maintenance, and ensuring the proper log-keeping on the ship's Global Maritime Distress Safety System equipment. Safety equipment includes Emergency Position - Indicating Radio Beacons, a NAVTEX unit, INMARSAT consoles, various radios, Search and Rescue Transponders, and Digital Selective Calling systems.

 

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.


 

Third Mate / Third Officer / Third Deck Officer

DutiesSafety officer

Requirements2nd Mate's License

Watch (at sea)Mate on watch (8-12, 20-24)

Watch (in port)Mate on watch (Midnight-8am)

DepartmentDeck department

Other namesThird officer; Ordinary Mate

 

A third mate (3/M) or third officer is a licensed member of the deck department of a merchant ship. The third mate is a watchstander and customarily the ship's safety officer and fourth-in-command. The position is an apprenticeship to become a second mate, and has been for centuries. Other duties vary depending on the type of ship, its crewing, and other factors.

Duties related to the role of safety officer focus on responsibility for items such as firefighting equipment, lifeboats, and various other emergency systems.

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.

Working through an internship-like program aboard ships, a Deck Cadet will be trained in the safe navigation of the ship at sea, the safe and efficient loading and discharge of the ship's cargo in port, handling the ship's legal and commercial business, and overseeing crew activities such as maintenance work, cargo.


 

Chief Engineer / First 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.

In marine engineering, the chief engineer is a licensed mariner in charge of the engineering department on a merchant vessel. He is responsible for all operations and maintenance that has to do with any and all engineering equipment throughout the entire ship. [1]

Under many jurisdictions the chief engineer is of equal rank to the captain, with responsibility being split between the two posts; the chief engineer taking responsibility for engine room and maintenance, and the captain taking responsibility for navigation and deck operations.

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.

 


 

Second 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.

This title is used for the person on a ship responsible for supervising the daily maintenance and operation of the engine department. They report directly to the chief engineer.

The Second Engineer is usually in charge of preparing the engine room for arrival, departure, or standby and oversees major overhauls on critical equipment.

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.

 


 

Third 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.

The Second Assistant is usually in charge of boilers, fuel, auxiliary engines, condensate and feed systems, and is the third most senior marine engineer on board. Depending on usage, "the Second" or "the Third" is also typically in charge of fueling (a.k.a. bunkering), granted the officer holds a valid Person In Charge (PIC) endorsement for fuel transfer operations.

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.

 


 

Fourth 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.

Generally the most junior marine engineer of the ship, this person is usually responsible for electrical, sewage treatment (resulting in the pejorative pun "turd engineer"), lube oil, bilge, and oily water separation systems. Depending on usage, they are called "the Third" or "the Fourth" and usually stands a watch[1] and sometimes assists the third mate in maintaining proper operation of the lifeboats.

 

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 2ndEngineer. 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 (AB)

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 (OS)

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 on-board. 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 a Licenced Rank.


 

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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