Back when you were still in school, you often wonder what it would be like to aboard a real vessel. Your maritime training in the Philippines is consequential for you to be able to perform your duties as seafarer. But you must also admit that there are so many techniques, procedures, and responsibilities you can learn deeper once you go onboard.
Below are some of the most important tasks that you should know as early as now.
Part of your duty as a cadet is to regularly check the tank soundings in the vessel. Generally done after the 0400-0800 watch (before or right after breakfast), this task is very crucial to ensure the stability of of the vessel.
Tank soundings must be learned and understood to the highest degree of precision so that the job can become easier to execute. At ports, it is very crucial to the loading and/or discharging of the cargo. Fabricating of the reading may compromise the safety in the ship.
If you are a new crew in the ship, there is a high chance that ship maintenance will be your very first task. All cadets who served onboard know that an area within the ship is designated for maintenance and upkeep. Generally, you will be assigned to one (1) deck (or part of it) which you will oversee including overall cleanliness and reporting of any incidents within the area.
While maintenance is mainly concerned with the upkeep of the vessel, deck work focuses on chipping, painting, grinding, and alike. This is done to maintain the integrity of the ship, along with rope work that will be very useful towards becoming competent seafarers.
Having the duty of port work includes assisting the 3rd mate with paperwork. It includes noting down precise timings of the start and end of loading, unloading, keeping tabs on the tank soundings, and giving continuous feedback to the on duty officer.
The maintenance of Life Saving Appliances (LSA) and Fire Fighting Appliances (FFA) are extremely important duties of cadets. They are assigned to this task in order to teach them the procedures of noting down expiry dates, carrying out repairs, checking the equipment for defects, informing the company for the ordering of new products, and more. In fulfilling this duty, you will learn about the functions of the equipment and a lot about safety devices such as lifeboats, liferafts, pyrotechnics, and SOLAS regulations which will be very useful once you move forward to 2nd mate position.
As a cadet, you will initially assist in the ratings in rigging the pilot ladder and lowering the gangway for the pilot to board, along with other related processes during pilotage. Once the captain sees that you are already familiar with the operations within the vessel, you will be tasked to assist the duty officer with the different pilotage paperwork.
Perhaps your most important task once the vessel docks is the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) watch. This is where you will monitor the entry and exit points of the vessel. Stationed at the gangway, you are expected to keep a log of all persons leaving and entering the ship. This includes all shore personnel and ship crew who will be going on shore leave.
As an officer in the making, you will be tasked to usher in various officials such as the PSC Surveyors, the Coast Guard, and Medical Inspectors into the vessel. You also have to inform the duty officer of the details of the visitor’s purpose as well as the particulars of the person boarding.
There is a high chance that as a new seafarer, you still do not have a valid Certificate of Competency (COC) so you cannot be asked to independently do a bridge watch. But under the guidance of a higher ranking officer, you will be taught the science and art of navigation, that if perfected, will help you escalate your rank into a deck officer.
As a cadet onboard, you are also responsible in assisting the Chief Mate in accomplishing different checklists and key logs. Cadets are usually placed in charge of updating and monitoring the Muster lists. Not solely tasked to handle the paperworks of the vessel, you may also be asked cut discontinued charts out for stenciling.
Despite being a new and low ranking crew member, you cannot underestimate your importance in the vessel you are working on. Cadetship is the most educational and fun part of a seaman’s career. Your tasks may be repetitive, or may vary from day to day, depending on the needs of the vessel during the time.
Your work as a cadet will not only teach you what real onboard work is like, you will also experience real life on the ship. It may be backbreaking work, but decades from now, you will fondly look back on your days as a cadet. With no integral responsibilities on hand, cadetship is the best time to learn the values and skills that were not taught in the classroom. While you are expected to be highly skilled through your maritime training in the Philippines, you will learn onboard the values and more advanced skills needed to succeed and survive onboard.
Provided that you are diligent and dedicated to your duties, you will slowly earn the respect of your mates, both from higher and lower ranks. This experience is nothing like the simulations done in the classroom, so there will be plenty of room to grow and even more opportunities to learn.