Tech: the Deck Department hierarchy
March 30, 2020

Seafaring is a tradition that encompasses a variety of professions and ranks. The ship hierarchy ensures smooth coordination of on board operations and promotes proper management strategies. In general, the ranking system on cruise ship is mainly divided into following categories: Deck Department, Engine Department and Hotel Department. In this article we will talk about the first Department, the brain of a cruise ship.

Deck Officers

The Deck Department is led by Deck Officers, who are licensed mariners and they are commanded overall by the ship’s Master. Seafarers in the Deck Department work a variety of jobs on a cruise ship, but primarily they will carry out the navigation of a vessel, from the bridge. However, they are usually also responsible for safety of guests and crew, environmental compliance and ensuring maintenance of the deck and upper hull structure, monitoring the stability of the ship including loading and discharging ballast water, carrying out mooring operations and finally anchoring a ship.

Bridge Officers

The Master is at the top of cruise ship hierarchy and has the highest rank on board a vessel. This figure is in charge of all operations and legal matters on board and is the final authority who is responsible for all matters relating to the vessel and its crew.

The Staff Captain is the second in command aboard the cruise ship and Head of the Deck Department. Among the many tasks, oversees all aspects of activities taking place on the bridge as well as security and training of the ship’s staff and crew.

The different rankings of Deck Officers are characterised by the rank insignia. For instance the Master insignia features a 26-millimeter golden gallon, a 11-millimeter straight golden gallon and another 11-millimeter golden gallon laid and sewn like a bollard vault; this composition is surmounted by a turreted crown embroidered in gold tinsel loaded in the center by a Roman anchor embroidered in gold tinsel. The crown is of such a size as to fit within the outer circumference of the vaulted gallon of the bollard of the composition itself.

The First Officer is the Officer of the Watch and is a designated navigation figure. On behalf of the Master is responsible for all navigational and watch keeping issues as well as for the voyage planningThe Second Officer ensure that the bridge is operated in accordance with all applicable regulations and company policies, during all prevailing circumstances and conditions. The Third Officer is an assistant to the OOW on the ship and acts as a co-navigator. Participates in mooring and anchoring operations as well as monitors tender operations.

The Deck Cadet complete the bridge. This figure is part of Deck Cadet training programs for young people who wish to pursue a career as a Deck Officer aboard a cruise ship.

Other Officers

The Safety Officer is responsible for passenger and crew safety drills, abandon ship procedures, crew safety training, supervision of ships tenders, instructions on safety of all shipboard personnel, with particular reference to emergency procedures.

The Environmental Compliance Officer is non-watch standing officer responsible for oversight and verification of the cruise line environmental policies, the training, implementation, and verification of regulatory compliance as it relates to applicable environmental laws.

The Chief Security Officer is a three-stripe officer who is in charge of implementing the company security policies and all security operations on board the cruise ship both at sea and while in port.

Deck Ratings

The Bosun is the highest ranking rating position in the Deck Department. The Bosun is in charge of all subordinate deck rating positions aboard the cruise ship and his main duties and responsibilities include supervises and coordinates all non-officer deck personal andn conjunction with the Staff Captain plans and schedules all activities in regards to regular maintenance of all areas of the ship.

The Quartermaster is an unlicensed member of the deck crew, an Able Seaman who performs Watch Keeping duties on the bridge and steers the ship applying the helm orders given by the Officer of the Watch but also observing the sea for potential hazards.

The Able Seaman is responsible for routine maintenance of the deck and hull of the ship, operation of tenders, lifeboats and rescue boats.

The Ordinary Seaman is the entry level non-watch standing position in the department and acts as an apprentice of the Able Seaman, learning the trade and gaining experience while working.

The Carpenter is responsible for all carpentry work and various woodwork and general repairs aboard the cruise ship during the voyage.

The Fireman is responsible for leading and coordinating the the onboard Firefighting Team activities in regards to fire hazards prevention and effective fire fighting in case of fire.

In the next article we will talk about the Engine Department, stay tuned!

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