Important Jobs Deck Cadets Have to Perform On board Ships

Many deck cadet aspirants have several questions regarding the possible roles and responsibilities they could take up after graduating from maritime college. More often than not, the answer to this involves assisting the deck officers in daily operations carried out in the vessel.

The first-hand information on Deck cadet duties is scant and books on the same topic are few and far between.  Given below is a general outline for roles that can be given to or taken up by a deck cadet to Advance in his career:

Tank Sounding

In nautical terminology sounding refers to checking the depth of a tank housed on a ship, or checking the fluid levels under or inside a ship.  This is a critical task since the balance and stability of the ship depends on how well sounding is carried out. This is given to deck cadets based on shifts.

Ship Maintenance

This sounds like a massive task and it surely is! Deck cadets are assigned an area of the ship to handle comprehensive maintenance and upkeep. This includes overall cleanliness of the assigned area and reporting any unusual features in the same area.

LSA/FFA Maintenance

The maintenance of lifesaving appliances (LSA) and firefighting appliances (FFA) is extremely important and totally irreplaceable.

This includes checking the expiry dates of equipment periodically, execution of repair work post checking of defects and then intimating the concerned staff for placing new orders of equipment. Fire extinguishers, life rafts, pyrotechnics and more come under this.

Deck Work

This includes assisting the ship’s bosun or boatswain in everyday deck work and part of daily operations for a deck cadet.  This includes grinding, painting, chipping and other machining processes carried out to maintain the structural integrity of the deck, and by extension, the entoore ship.

Berthing/Unberthing Operations

This refers to the activities that are carried out when an ocean vessel casts away, giving raise to the term “all hands on deck”.

All seamen on the deck are present during this time and manage their respective stations to cast off in a perfect manner.

Pilotage Operations

This is also a very important role given to a deck cadet. The level of responsibility assigned to a cadet varies with the time that the cadet has spent on board. At the start a deck cadet would assist the ratings in rigging the pilot ladder and also lowering the gangway for the pilot to board. With passage of time, the deck cadet would be entrusted with more advanced roles such as assistance in steering and plotting the position.

Port work and Cargo Operations

Such roles for a deck cadet include assisting the third mate with paperwork and keeping them signed, sealed and ready for perusal. Port watch is another duty, observing loading and unloading.

ISPS Watch

This includes ship security and is a big part of port watch. The ISPS watch helps keep up with the norms introduced by shipping authorities. A deck cadet will observe and monitor the entry and exit points of the vessel.

Paperwork at Sea

“No Work is done until the paperwork is done” as the saying goes, tells u that detailed documentation goes a long way in carrying out operations smoothly. A deck cadet will assist the chief mate and with respect to checklists and sounding, etc.


Navigation is one of the core duties and responsibilities of any deck cadet officer and includes plotting ship position, application of knowledge of COLREGS, celestial navigation and more. The deck cadet will attempt this role under the guidance of the marine certified officer. This may be allotted to deck cadets on shift basis for maximum efficiency.


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