The main officers on the ship are navigators & Engineers. Engineers take care of the running of the ship & officers look after all activities on the deck. In terms of functional hierarchy, the officers have ‘ratings’ working under their supervision in each of the three major departments, i.e. deck, engine room and catering.

Deck Department:                     

They are responsible for the navigation of the ship, the loading/ discharge of cargo, radio communication and the control/ safety of the crew, and passengers.

The Master is in overall command of a Merchant navy ship and is responsible for the safety, efficiency and commercial feasibility of his ship. His duties are navigational at sea. While in ports he is responsible for cargo operations.

Master/ Captain: The captain in command carries out the following tasks:
  • Manages navigation of the ship
  • Maintains orderliness and discipline
  • Ensures safety of passengers, crew and the cargo
  • Commands maneuvering to avoid hazards
  • Checks the location of the ship’s position using navigational aids
  • Acts as the representative of the ship’s owner
  • Assigns organizational duties for ship’s operation, navigation and maintenance with the Chief Officer
The Chief Officer:
  • Is second in command, on the ship
  • Is the head of the Deck department
  • Is in charge of all maintenance, cargo loading and discharge
  • Assist in navigation and discipline
The Second Officer:
  • Takes charges of mails
  • Maintenance of all equipment and charts used for navigation
  • Cargo supervision in ports
The Third Officer:
  • Undertakes responsibility for maintenance of lifeboats and fire fighting equipment
  • Cargo supervision in ports
  • Acts as a signal officer in charge of all signaling equipment
  • Is in charge of the navigation bridge by rotation
Engine Department:          

Marine engineers ensure the smooth and efficient operation of the ship and the maintenance of all electrical and refrigeration machinery and any engineering installations on the ship. The chief engineer is in charge of the engineering department and is responsible for working of all equipment onboard be it electrical, mechanical, pneumatic or hydraulic.

He/She supervises the work of the engine room and is assisted by a team engineers.

Chief Engineer:
  • Is responsible for all the propulsion machineries, power generating equipment and auxiliaries
  • Maintains documents of the working of the machinery as well as the repairs carried out
  • Logs fuel consumption and requirements
Second Engineer:
  • Is responsible for the maintenance of lubricating systems, engine room auxiliaries, and electrical equipments.
Third Engineer:
  • Is responsible for fuel and water
  • Supervises tank soundings
  • Logs the consumption of fuel and water
  • Monitors the boiler room equipment
Fourth Engineer:
  • Is responsible for the operation and maintenance of engine room auxiliaries
Electrical Officer:
  • Maintains and repairs all electrical all electrical circuits and motors
Stewards/Service Department:

This department is responsible for preparing of food and meals for the crew on board, they also maintain living quarters of the crew and the mess halls. The chief steward maintains inventories of food stuffs, linen, bedding, furniture, etc. the other staff are the chief cook, baker and attendants.

Merchant Navy Ratings:         

There are three kinds of ratings: 
deck rating, engine rating and catering rating.

Deck rating is responsible for cleaning, sweeping, chipping of rust, polishing, etc. They help in loading and unloading of cargo and in port they assist in the mooring of the ship.

Engine room ratings are responsible for the day to day cleanliness of the engine room and for the routine oiling, greasing and servicing of machinery as they experience they help officer monitor and ensure the safe running of main plant and ancillary equipment.

Catering rating - they usually clean accommodation areas and public rooms, help in preparation of foods, clean galleys and cooking utensils, and to maintain fridges, freezers. They also serve meals to officers and crew and help in loading and storing of consumable stores

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