basic training for seaman ranks and duties

What Are The Different Kinds of Seafarer Ranks & Duties?

basic seaman training ctsi philippines

Want to become a seaman? That’s great! There’s tons of work that you can do inside the ship. With the right courses (like doing basic training for a seaman) and the necessary paperwork, you’ll be able to reach your goal in no time.

While you’re at it, it’s good to get familiar with the roles that exist inside sailing ships. Read our quick guide below to know which is which!

Deck Department


This role is for the highest commanding person on the ship. They have power over all ranks, can rightfully dismiss any crew member under reasonable circumstances and other leadership tasks.

Chief Mate/First Mate

This role is the second-in-command and responds to the Captain. He/she also handles the cargo operations and assumes command of the ship in the absence of a Captain.

Second Mate

This role is mainly in charge of the ship’s navigation. A Second Mate updates the charts makes passage plans and handles all other aspects of ship navigation.

Third Mate

This role mainly focuses on ship safety by inspecting and maintaining life-saving and fire-fighting equipment. A third mate is responsible for drilling operations and emergencies.

Deck Cadet

This role is for Navigational Officer trainees who are currently doing sea time and taking exams to get an OICNW certification.


The bosun is the highest position for unlicensed roles (rating) in the deck department. This role usually carries out instructions given by the chief mate and oversees the ABs & OBs.

Able-Bodied Seaman (AB)

This rating is responsible for more physically demanding tasks such as working mooring lines and operating deck gear. An AB may also stand watch to assist the duty officer.

Ordinary Seaman (OS)

The OS is the lowest rating in the deck department. An OS must carry out any tasks given to them by anyone ranked higher than them.

Engineering Department

Chief Engineer/First Engineer

This role oversees the engine department of the ship. A Chief Engineer will delegate orders to operate and maintain all machinery and equipment throughout the ship.

Second Engineer

This role handles the daily maintenance and operations in the engine department.

Third Engineer

This role manages the boilers, fuel, auxiliary, & condensate, and feed systems.

Fourth Engineer

This role assists the third engineer.


This rating heads the maintenance and repair of the engine department. A motorman has an Able Seafarer Engine Certificate STCW A-III/5.


This rating mainly checks the lubrication of ship machinery. An oiler has an Able Seafarer Engine Certificate STCW A-III/5.


This rating is the lowest rank in the engine department. A wiper usually has an Engine Room Watch Rating (ERWR) Certificate STCW A-III/4.

Catering/Steward’s Department

Chief Cook/Steward

The Chief cook or steward is the highest unlicensed role in the steward department. A chief cook or steward usually oversees the menu planning, meal preparing, and meal serving for the whole crew. They also delegate tasks in terms of cleaning officer quarters and department areas and doing store inventory.


This rating is the lowest rank in the steward’s department. A steward usually responds to the orders given by the chief cook/steward.

seaman's book for basic training for seaman

How To Get A Seaman’s Book Using MISMO

seaman's book for basic training for seaman
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A Seafarer’s Identification and Record Book (SIRB) or Seaman’s Book is one of the most important documents every seafarer should have. It is similar to your regular passport in that you won’t be able to work on ships and vessels without it. Once you’re done taking basic training for a seaman, you have to get your own SIRB.

Getting a Seaman’s Book is now made easier through the MISMO website. Follow these steps to learn how!


Before, the SIRB was processed by going personally to any MARINA office. It was done manually, thus, leading to long wait times.

MARINA recently upgraded its systems by coming up with the MISMO website. The page is used to announce exam schedules and provide certificates or important documents.

How to Get a Seaman’s Book via MISMO Website

Here are the things you need to get a seaman’s book. Make sure to follow these instructions carefully to ensure a smooth and hassle-free process.

Logging in to your account

If you have an existing SCS account:

#1: Go to

#2: If you have an existing SCS account, Click Sign In

#3: Input your email address and password. Tick the reCAPTCHA box.

#4: If you need to update your information, make sure all provided details are correct. Profile pictures must have the applicant wearing a white polo on a plain white background to be deemed valid.

If you don’t have an existing SCS account:

#1: Go to

#2: If you have an existing SCS account, Click Sign Up

#3: Click Register New Account.

#4: Fill out all boxes with the information required. Tick the check box to confirm that you agree to the Terms & Conditions. Click Register.

#5: Check your registered email address for a verification email.

Selecting the Transaction

#1: Click Transaction, then choose the SIRB tab.

#2: Select which processing time you prefer (Regular/Expedite)

#3: Choose your preferred MARINA branch.

#4: Select your application type (New/Re-Issuance).

#5: Tick the check box.

#6: Click Proceed.

Submitting the Requirements
  • Submit all indicated documents according to your status (New/Re-Issuance).
  • Keep files under 1MB to ensure a successful upload.
  • Finalize the application by clicking Submit.
  • Approved applications will get a text within a few days after the submission to inform the applicant that they can now set an Online Appointment via MISMO. On the other hand, denied applications need to manually check their account and view the details by clicking the Application tab.
Setting the Appointment & Paying Fees

#1: Click the Application tab, then go to For Appointment.

#2: Under the Slot Locator Tab, choose your desired schedule & MARINA branch to visit.

#3: Click Proceed.

#4: You will get redirected to the Payment page, where you can read the guidelines on how much and how you can pay. Be sure to take note of the reference number.

#5: Once you’ve settled your payment within 18 hours, it will show on your MISMO profile.


Ever since MARINA updated its process through the MISMO website, getting an SIRB has become much faster and more convenient. You’ll only have to visit their office to submit original documents for verification, and then you can get your seaman’s book on the same day!

stcw training philippines - basic training for seaman

BT-U, BT-R, & BT Full Course: What’s the Difference?

stcw basic training for seaman

Seafarer training can be very confusing. As opposed to rigidly structured college programs, aspiring seamen and women only need to take the basic training and take different courses afterward.

If you’ve just applied for basic training for a seaman, here’s an overview:

Basic Training Full Course

This course is for fresh graduates, non-maritime professionals who want to work onboard ships, and seafarers with old certificates before the Manila 2010 Amendments.

The course covers the following topics: basic fire prevention and firefighting, personal safety and social responsibilities (PSSR), personal survival techniques (PST), and elementary first aid.

Basic Training Updating (BT-U)

This course is for those looking to get issued or revalidated with a Certificate of Proficiency (COP). A COP is a legal document issued only by MARINA that’s only valid for five years. It is to show that you are competent enough to work at sea. It is different from training completion certificates, which can differ per training center.

Seafarers who took their Basic Safety Training before August 30, 2013 will also have to retake it since there’s been a recent update in the Personal Safety and Social Responsibility (PSSR) module.

Basic Training Refresher (BT-R)

This course is for those who took their Basic Safety Training before August 30, 2013, or are trying to validate their BTs. As opposed to BT-U, it only focuses on two modules: fire prevention and firefighting & personal survival techniques.

The industry also constantly updates its standards in line with revised requirements, so those who’ve had their BT for at least five years need to get a refresher course to maintain their credibility.

Becoming a seafarer is all about adapting to the different waves of life. Apart from training, you must also keep yourself up-to-date with proper vaccinations, documents, visas, and other costs.

Guidelines For COVID-19 In The Maritime Industry

The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) released their MARINA Advisory No. 2020-14 in response to the quarantine the Philippine government is undertaking during the fight against COVID-19. In addition to this, other maritime-related organizations are also providing ways for seafarers and trainees to handle their business without compromising their health. See below.


As per the advisory, MARINA will be operating via online platforms and a work from home model. This is so those who can stay in their homes can still work without risking their health. A skeletal workforce will be provided to ensure delivery of services continues. While all this is happening, MARINA Regional Offices and processing centers will handle all transactions.

Seafarers and certifications

When seafarers apply for certifications and renewals, there are certain times where they have to take maritime courses in the Philippines to be eligible in applying for these. They often need to do so before the expiry date of their old certifications to get the full five year validity. But with the current situation, MARINA is allowing extension periods to the validity of seafarers’ previous certificates of proficiency (COP). This is also because they’ll be suspending training courses in NCR until April 12 (subject to change).

Aside from this, the Global Wind Safety Organization (GWO) and OPITO are also providing extensions so seafarers can still take their refresher courses as needed two months after their initial expiry date. Hygienic measures will also be taken in teaching these courses to lessen the spread of the virus.

Shipping operations

Last but not least, the shipping operations. All passenger travels within the capital region shall be suspended from the beginning of the quarantine until the end, whenever that will be. Furthermore, social distancing shall be taken within each vessel to avoid the virus from spreading any further. Of course, ships with valuable cargo and necessities shall still set sail in order to provide for the citizens of NCR in this time of need.

This coronavirus crisis has affected quite a lot of people and will be going on for sometime. That is why we as seafarers have to take utmost care of ourselves and of our hygiene if we want to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. With this, industry-wide measures are provided by maritime institutions to ensure maritime professionals, instructors, and trainees alike can focus on caring for their families and health without worrying about their careers for the time being.

How To Improve Maritime Teaching In The Philippines

The Philippines is considered one of the best sources for maritime professionals worldwide. It’s apparent in how everywhere you go, you’re likely to meet a Filipino seafarer working here or overseas. This is a testament as to how effective maritime school are here in Manila and in other parts of the country, if it manages to produce competent and hardworking employees for shipping companies around the world.

Still, education should be constantly evolving in order for the local maritime industry to grow. Not doing so will cause it to stagnate, leaving us behind as more countries innovate in all aspects. Here are ways we can improve the maritime training courses and curriculum in the Philippines.

Follow the latest standards

There are many governing bodies within the field who determine the standards and regulations needed for training. They should be strictly followed so the students are up-to-date with the latest developments in maritime instruction. True enough, the Philippines has done well in addressing these situations. Just last year, our country sought to tackle the lacking aspects of our current training regimen as determined by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). This was a good move on our part as we found what needed improving and addressed it accordingly, making us at par with international standards.

Use new and updated technology

In accordance with the enhancement of lessons, the technology and equipment used in these should also be updated. Better technical machinery means a better experience during courses, especially the ones that entail hands-on training and simulations. Aside from that, outdated equipment may also not be safe to use and could result in injuries during training sessions. We don’t want trainees to get hurt even before their actual duties now do we?

Broaden horizons

Last but not the least, aside from following the guidelines provided, more maritime institutions should take initiative and look for better ways to improve how they teach seafaring. Whether this be in the form of incorporating unorthodox but helpful teaching methods, or proposing on adding new courses, the maritime schools have to take initiative as well. For example, with marine chemists seen as important people when it comes to safety of confined spaces on the ship, perhaps chemistry subjects can be taught to trainees.

There are a lot of actions we can take to elevate our training standards so we can continue creating even more quality trainees. It just takes passion and dedication to this profession. Those who are truly driven to forward the industry’s standards are the ones that can spark the change to take it to greater heights. And the best way to start that is by refining and polishing the training we do have to give students the quality education they deserve.