The Seafaring Profession: The Ranks in the Ship

The Seafaring Profession: The Ranks in the Ship

CTSI, August 12, 2013

When you think of famous sailors, what comes to mind are Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan and Amerigo Vespucci who reigned our history books with stories of their voyages and discoveries. But are we even aware of what they actually did or who accompanied them in those adventures?

A seaworthy ship is one that is sufficiently manned. For a voyage to be successful, every member of the crew and the captain must be in sync towards their goal. Teamwork is the priority on board. This is why every rank in the ship matters.

In order for a crew member to be qualified in their respective posts, one must complete the necessary maritime training first and take exams to gauge his knowledge of his position and responsibilities.   The requirements for safe manning are also included in sources concerning STCW (Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping).

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Captain to us and Master to the crew, he is the highest ranked and commanding officer in the ship and represents the owner. The overall responsibility of the crew, ship and cargo rests on his shoulders. he decides on is final and the crew must stick to it whether it’s right or wrong.

Deck Department

Under this department are the First Mate, Second Mate, and Third Mate, and next in command to the Captain respectively. The First Mate or Chief Mate is the head of the Deck Department and is in charge of the vessel’s cargo operations, and the safety and security of the ship and crew.  The 3rd in command in the ship is the Second Mate who serves as the navigation officer onboard. What completes this department’s officers is the Third Mate whose primary task is see to the safety of the ship and crew.

Other members of this department are the Deck Cadet, who are officers under training; the Boatswain, who is responsible for the maintenance of the ship; and the AB (Able Seaman) who performs a variety of jobs concerning operations and upkeep of the ship.

Engineering Department

This department is led by the Chief Engineer and oversees the engines. He may be paid with the same wage of the Captain but he never assumes command of the ship. Other members of the department are the Second Engineer, Third Engineer, and the Fourth Engineer who are responsible for the maintenance and operation of the engine department. What completes this department is the Engineering Cadet.

Steward’s Department

The Chief Cook is the senior unlicensed crew member in the Steward’s department and regarded highly for taking care of the preparation and serving of meals. Under him are Chief Steward and the Stewards who perform under the Chief Cook’s guidance,and the cleaning and maintaining of the quarters.


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