Safe and successful journey of a ship is the responsibility of its crew. To ensure smooth functioning the functions are primarily divided under two major departments and the deck department is one of them. The deck department is also called the Navigation department and as the name suggests their main responsibility is navigation of the vessel. The people working in this department are called Navigation or Deck officers.
A deck/navigation officer’s typical work activities include:
• Operating satellite and radar systems and equipment to navigate the ship;
• Following weather and navigation updates and reports and taking necessary action;
• Responsible for the safety of crew and cargo as well as passengers (in case of a ferry/cruise ship);
• Supervising the operation and maintenance of deck machinery, e.g. winches and cranes;
• Managing and handling communication systems;
• Monitoring and maintaining safety, firefighting and life-saving equipment;
• Scheduling the work and maintaining legal and operational records;
• Keeping up to date with developments in maritime legal, commercial and political matters.
Ranks in the Deck Department
The deck department of a merchant vessel is headed by the Chief Officer, also known as the Chief Mate. He works under the Sea Captain. The Second Officer or Second Mate reports directly to the Chief Mate. He is the second in command in the Deck Department. A ship may or may not have a Third and a Fourth Mate depending on its size. Apart from these higher officers there are boatswains, able seamen and ordinary seamen also in the department. These are ratings that are responsible for many manual jobs within the deck department. The people training to become a part of deck department are called Deck Cadets. They help the officers to carry out their duties.
Being a part of the Deck department requires one to be able to take responsibility and remain focused as they are not just responsible for safe navigation, but also for the safety of the crew and passengers. This is a challenging job which requires people who can remain calm under pressure.
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