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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This role handles the daily maintenance and operations in the engine department.
This role manages the boilers, fuel, auxiliary, & condensate, and feed systems.
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.
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.