Jobs and departments on a cruise ship, part II – the Deck Department

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Continuing the information about the various departments onboard a cruise ship. The next department is the Deck Department. This department is where you can find all the Navigators and the sailors (deck hands). The Captain comes up via the ranks in this department since he/she must be a Navigator by trade, that’s the law. And he/she is per definition the Company’s representative onboard, thus not really a part of this department, since the Captain sits on the top of the Administrative pyramid onboard.

Seabourn Pride’s Deck Department 2005. I see 10 different jobs in the picture. Me in the middle 😀

Captain Berg and Captain pedersen

The Deck Department is run by the Staff captain (Second in Command onboard). Sometimes nicknamed “Staffie”.And as with the Chief Engineer, Staffie is normally responsible for the budgets within his department, looking at overtime payments, local purchases, maintenance and repair routines, ordering extraordinary services for repairs, surveyors to come for inspections, planning and purchasing (via Company system) spare parts and consumables for maintenance. In line with the Company’s regulations.

Staff Captains Dag and Nils

In this department you will find, as already mentioned the Navigators with the ship’s Navigations Officer (Nav Off) in charge of all the happenings on the navigational Bridge with it’s quartermasters (special educated helms-men) and junior Navigators. The Nav Off will prepare all the future cruises by drawing up the courses in all the charts, or plotting waypoints on electronic charts.

The Nav Off will plan when we will report in and out of various traffic separation schemes, any sectors we must avoid or report to local authorities, etc. The Nav Off will also hold a navigations brief for all the Navigators and Captain where they all will go through each and every leg for the upcoming voyage. This includes every port entry as well as the various berthes (piers) we will use.

Navigations Officers in different daily jobs. Myself to the left.

Outside the Bridge operations we will find the ship’s Safety Officer (a Navigator by trade), who is normally in charge of maintaining all the ship’s Safety equipment, whom is also responsible for all the various Safety related training and drills (we have weekly drills) for the entire crew (Officers and ratings). This includes the training/briefing of all repair contractors, guest lecturers/entertainers, trainors, etc we might sail with.

The Safety Officer is also responsible for training the fire teams, and maintaining all the equipment we can find in the Fire Stations (Lockers) onboard. Yes, because ships, and especially cruise ships have several fire stations throughout the ship. 

Safety Officer Stanislav Stanchev

The safety Officer will have a team of Safety AB’s (Able Bodied seamen, which is a rank), some of the regular deck hands, as well as some of the junior watchkeeping Officers (junior navigators from the bridge). A large Cruise ship these days will carry thousands upon thousands of various types of portable fire extinguishers which are placed in strategic locations all over the ship.

The ship has several hundred (automatic or locally/manually closing) Fires screen doors and Watertight doors throughout the compartments inside the ship. All this must be frequently inspected and tested. In addition all the ship’s Lifeboats and davits (special designed crane for lowering), life rafts and life raft davits, lifejackets (including all the spare ones), rescue boats and davits, must be inspected tested and maintained. Again, the Safety Officer organize this.

Safety Officer James Terry planning and explaining.

Then we have the ship’s Chief Officer (a Navigator by trade) and the Environmental Officer. The Environmental role is normally combined with the Safety Officer’s position on the smaller type of cruise ships. But on the larger ones, it needs more attention since the work scope is much larger. On my present ship this role is combined with the Chief Officer’s position. Normally a Chief Officer will be second in command on regular cargo ships/tankers, etc. However, the cruise industry has created this middle management position, where this officer will work closely with the ships Bosun (Boatswain) regarding all the regular maintenance outside technical areas. 
This includes inspecting and maintaining all the tanks regarding Fuel, sewage, freshwater, grey water, lub oil, technical waste water, etc, and all other rooms and spaces in the entire ship. He/she is also in charge of making sure the ship at all times looks “spick and span”, so rust removing (picking), coating and painting are being done continuously. You can imagine how much area there is on the larger cruise ships to maintain.

Chief Mate Sean Smith

The Environmental part of the job has increasingly become more and more important the last years, as most of us are aware of. This job includes organizing training for the ship’s crew and officers in regards to Environmental rules and regulations, as well as internal garbage handling (waste sorting, etc), and planning for discharging various types of garbage to trucks shoreside. On my present ship, we will normally “deliver” 20-25 pallets with compacted garbage of all sorts. It can be paper garbage, oily rags, electronic waste, food waste, plastic and metal cans, etc. And it has all been sorted onboard by a special team for this.

Maybe in contrary to what people think, or the Media reports, The Companies are actually making a priority of this these days, in order to make sure we do our part to preserve the world and especially the Oceans.

Environmental Officer Daniel Butler

The next group I will mention is the Bosun (Boatswain), all the deckhands as ABs (able bodied seamen), the OSs (ordinary seamen), and all the Carpenters.
This group of crewmembers represent the backbone of the Deck department, with all the general knowledge and special skills they represent. They are the ones who “do the stuff”. They are the ones who can be assigned special maintenance or repair tasks, or used as regular utilities if needed for certain projects onboard.

They are the ones who rust pick and paint, and wash the decks and bulkheads. They are the crew who operate the life raft, lifeboat, and rescue boat davits, and sometimes drive the Tender Boats (depending on the ship type).
You see these guys everywhere, hanging over the ship’s side, inside tanks, up in the masts, out on deck scrubbing the teak, sanding and varnishing teak railings, around the pools and jacuzzis, on the pier rigging water hoses for fresh water bunkering. 

All the Deckhands report to the Bosun, whom is their Foreman.
The ship’s Carpenters, they are a small special team you can find within the Engine and Deck department. These guys can maintain and repair anything which is not electrical/mechanical. They specializing in carpeting, linoleum, wood work, doors, hinges, handles and they are the ship’s locksmiths as well. They can fix a passengers damaged luggage when they arrive. They can repair the broken heel for a lady’s shoe. A good carpenter is worth his weight in Gold.
Wherever you find yourself on a ship, it doesn’t take long before you see one of these guys passing by, or stop to repair/maintain something.

Bosuns Ramon and Miro

The next department you find within the Deck department, is the Security Officer and Security guards/staff. When I started out in the cruise industry in 1995 there was one single person in this sub-department. Unfortunately, the world has changed so much that we need a much bigger department these days. Not only because of terrorist threats, but the cruise ships are getting larger all the time, and they become like floating towns and cities, with all the issues we might find there. So, the Security detail is kind of the ship’s Police force, except the fact they can not really arrest someone, so they need to operate in a less aggressive way.

The Security Officer and his staff/guards will be posted on the gangway while we are alongside, as well as having patrols around the ship. They maintain all the metal detectors, explosive detectors, alcohol testing equipment, drug detecting equipment. So instead of arresting people, they are trained to approach potential unruly (agressive for some reason) passengers and crew members in a more diplomatic way. Of course, they can protect themself if needed (self defence training). A good security team will be able to prevent potential issues we might face with passengers or crew members.

Security Officer Gary (not too happy with my picture) and Security Staff.

Then finally we have the ship’s Hospital. 
Oh yes, a modern cruise ship is carrying a fully equipped Hospital with Doctors and Nurses, as well as a morgue. Don’t forget, this is a floating town, with people who has accidents all the time, or get sick, and sometimes (not often) pass away. This floating town can sometimes be located in the middle of the ocean with several days to next port. And for this we need a department to take care of all the souls onboard. The Medical department.

The ship’s hospital will normally have a fully equipped operating room, depending of course of the ship’s size and number of people onboard. But there will always be a Doctor who can perform all kinds of routine operations, and Nurses who can take care of the patients, and perform standard Emergency room duties and looking after the hospital ward with all the hospital rooms.

Doctor and Nurse.
Teamwork – Nurse Malou, Bosun, and Carpenter working together to adjust something in the Hospital.

And final picture……………

I never figured out why we looked to serious here. At anchor outside Kho Kood, Thailand.

So that was the Deck department on a cruise ship, and I am sorry if I forgot someone as there are so many to remember.

Next time, let’s have a look at the by far biggest department on a Cruise ship, the Hotel Department.

Rgds Sailor


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