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In overall command of the vessel, the Captain has full responsibility for its safety and that of the crew, passengers and cargo. 

Captains have extensive maritime qualifications and experience, excellent seafaring knowledge, a good grasp of accounting and administration, and must deal with authorities on health and safety, security, and environmental awareness matters.

Chief officer

Second in command, the chief officer or chief mate is directly responsible for all deck operations including cargo storage and handling, deck maintenance and deck supplies.

In charge of the second and third officers and deck hands, the chief mate undertakes bridge watches and is responsible for the security of the vessel and environmental awareness.

Second officer

The second officer takes specific responsibility for navigation, the upkeep of charts and software. They oversee navigation and radio equipment and undertakes bridge watches at sea, and may also be the vessel’s designated security, safety or medical officer.

Third officer

Normally the first post-certification appointment for a former officer cadet, the third officer undertakes bridge watches and understudies the second officer.

The third officer is also responsible for making sure the fire fighting equipment and lifeboats are in order.


Sometimes known as the senior deck hand, the bosun is usually responsible for the maintenance and exterior cleanliness of the vessel and oversees all deck operations in conjunction with the duty officer.

Deck hand

An entry-level job for newcomers who may or may not have basic seafaring knowledge but are willing to learn on the job. 

This is a hands-on role which includes vessel maintenance, deck operations and general duties.

Our career progression charts are designed to give you a clear guide to the best route and courses required to further your career.

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