Cadet Role On Board

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Cadet Forms The Foundation!!!

deck cadet

When you opted for this profession, you had certain ideas about what you would be doing and how you would be achieving the same. None of this would be possible if you don’t understand your own role on the ship. The objective of this lesson is to explain your role on board as a cadet and connected activities. 

No matter who owns and operates a ship, to achieve their objective they employ professionals to manage and operate their ships. At present, you are a cadet (or an apprentice or a trainee). On completion of your training and obtaining certificates of competency, you will be considered a professional. As a certified officer, you will have authority and responsibility to perform the responsible duties of an officer on watch. You get these by virtue of your qualification. 

How do you prove your competence eventually?

Qualified or competent means that you have the necessary knowledge, skills, ability and experience to carry out specified activities. Competence is through application of knowledge and demonstration of your practical skills. 

Management is to Plan, Organise, Lead & Control.

What is your role? 

Your Company manuals would, no doubt have allotted duties and responsibilities for cadets and /or other trainees. 

We will tell you what the future holds. Firstly, working on board is a challenging task, which gives a lot of job / professional satisfaction. 

Freedom is to do what you like, but happiness is to like what you do. Job satisfaction is the fulfilment of this latter part. 

"Extracts from shipping company manual" (Duties And Responsibilities Of Cadet)

The deck Cadet is an apprentice or trainee whose primary function is to take an active part in shipboard operations and learn the job functions to enable him to serve as a capable Officer in future. The Cadet is a trainee and is not to be assigned independent watch-keeping duties.

The Cadet will be responsible to maintain the Company’s “Cadet’s Training Record Book” as well as maintain work diaries, journals, etc. which he will present to the Master at regular intervals for inspection.

The Cadet will carry out all jobs and duties assigned to him by the Master / Chief Officer or any other Officer. He will report to the Chief Officer, or in his absence any other Officer delegated by him.

In addition to his training / learning, he will also assist in all shipboard operations, particularly in the following:

► Watch-keeping at sea or at anchor, under the supervision of a certified watch-keeper.

► All routine maintenance on the deck – cosmetic upgradation, greasing, repairs, etc.

► All operations involving cargo work, especially hold / tank cleaning operations.

► Assist the Duty Officer in ballasting / deballasting operations.

► Assist in maintaining all deck stores and their inventories.

► Assist in preparing necessary shipboard paperwork, as required.

Do you like being a cadet and learn?

 Your training is  aimed at making you a skilled and competent watch keeping officer. You may not realise It now and but when you are standing on the bridge just Imagine that you an the watch keeping officer and see what It feels to have that responsibility. 

Carrying out that responsibility requires knowledge, skills and competence. In addition It also demands humility to accept the fact that when you do not know you shall ask. Remember no body on your ship, knows every thing on the ship. It is the collective knowledge that ensures the safety of the ship. 

Safety is a subject that shall be dealt with elsewhere with the attention It deserves, but remember safety means doing everything In such manner that you do not get heart. It every body on the ship carries out his activity with full regard to his personal safety, I can assure you that the ship shall be safe. 

As you progress In your career at sea you will eventually rise up to the position as master (Captain) on board a ship. What next? There are a number of shipping related organisations based ashore, from those performing legislative to commercial and other support functions; It can be a very large exhaustive list. All these bodies need experienced seafarers as their fresh Intakes and a large and vivid spectrum of opportunity is open for you to continue your career ashore if you wish to. This is an option open to all, although the fact remains that not all seafarers exercise this option. Your present task Is to set your course towards becoming a master of a vessel. 

As long as you are at sea follow the cadet’s promise given below :-

Cadet Promise

"On My Honour I Promise That I Will do My Duty, To God and My Country, To Help Other People At all Times, To Place the Ship Before my friends and family, And, My Family and Friends Before Myself"

You are now on board a ship. it Is one of the cleanest environments you can live In if you so choose. Your performance on board depends on how good you feel about your own self-your attitude. Your attitude will determine your altitude.

Body And Mind

For you to perform well, you must keep both your mind and body fit. Your mind is kept lit by analysing each aspect of the work  you do such as reading, brainstorming with colleagues especially when you come across a problem, and many such other activities, One of the best moans of course is to follow this structured training programme, which assist you to develop your skills and competency and hence help you to obtain your second mates operator level Certificate of Competency. 

The body as you know has to be kept fit by regular exercise such as a regular workout, swimming if a pool is available and games. Remember that relaxation is also an important part of your exercise. Learn techniques, which help you, relax your body. 

In this context, we wish to quote an extract from ‘The Ship Captain’s Medical Guide” which says: -“Very few seamen aboard ship exercise hard enough. 

To exercise properly one must become breathless or to increase the rate of the heartbeat. Unused muscles and organs tend to atrophy. Unused minds have the same tendency, and on long, tedious voyages, there will be boredom and lack of interest, which will also be detrimental to health. “Awareness of the danger Is the best protection.” 

So, now that you are aware of the dangers, put your leadership and management into practical use to keep this danger away. 



Your personnel hygiene is of utmost importance. Regular wash, keeping your working and residing area clean is your responsibility. Your clothes, especially working rig, should be washed often. Avoid wearing dirty clothes. Not only can it cause various skin diseases; it also lowers your self-esteem. of the many causes of disease, infection by living organisms is quite common and understanding of their mode of spread is necessary if healthy living and working conditions are to be maintained. 

The germs causing disease are classified in three broad categories. 

Virus, bacteria and fungi 

They may gain entry Into our body, usually through the nose, mouth or broken skin. This may be from a direct person•to-person contact, indirectly through air, water or food or by parasites. 

The most dreaded Is AIDS (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome). It Is a virus which weakness the bodies immune defence systems. There are no known remedies for the vast majority of viral diseases. 

Personal safety 


Learn to use your Personnel protective gear when you work. When you board a ship your first duty Is towards safety. Check whether your life jacket is in place and is In proper condition. Use safety shoes, hand gloves, helmets, goggles and appropriate protective clothing. 



You are responsible for your own safety. Always follow safe working practices, procedures and use all relevant equipment. Do not cut corners and try to save time by Ignoring safety precautions. 


From time Immemorial, uniforms have become a part of the human trait. Different sections of society performing a specific function have adopted a dress suitable for that particular type of work and this has gradually led to the development of uniforms. 

The Oxford dictionary describes ‘Uniform as: 

1. Not changing in form or character; the same, unvarying (present a uniform appearance; all of uniform size and shape) 

2. Conforming to the same standard, rules or pattern 

3. Not varying with time or place. Uniform distinctive clothing worn by members of the same body e.g. by soldiers, police and schoolchildren etc. 

While all nations have rules and regulations Including legislative requirements for the uniforms worn by the people In various fields, such legislation does not exist for merchant navy uniforms In all countries.

United Kingdom enacted the first formal legislation in 1919 at the behest of King George V. He had served as a Royal Navy officer. in recognition of the heroism of merchant marine seafarers during World War I, he specified uniforms for the merchant navy officers. This legislation is now a part of the U.K merchant-shipping act under section 57. 


This legislation had also placed the merchant navy uniform almost at par with those worn by other official services. Legislation provided for fines for anyone not entitled to wear uniform found wearing the same, or for anyone bringing It into disrepute. 

This legislation did boost the pride of the people serving in merchant marine and their uniform was no more taken at par with those worn by railway porters or hotel doormen. 

India (Bharat) has an old tradition of merchant marine and their uniforms. The present day scenario on the use of uniforms in the merchant marine is based on the U.K. concept with individual countries and / or companies having their own variations. For example the size and type of rank stripes, badges, braids or symbols, the use of khaki etc. 

We talked about the development of flags of convenience for financial survival etc., along with this, there was a gradual decline in the merchant navy uniforms also. This was because many ship-owners of their managers saw little use or benefit from uniforms from the commercial viewpoint. Jeans and T-shirts soon replaced the traditional merchant marine uniforms. This was brought about by the rebellious characteristic of the younger generation as an outlet to express their freedom from tradition. 

This change did bring about a series of complaints worldwide from pilots, port and other officials (inspectors, Charterers etc.) expressing their inability to distinguish between the responsible officers, crew or other visitors on board a ship including the master. 

In case of an emergency this became even more critical. For most of the shipping population, having a more firm belief in traditional values, the weakening of uniform standards has been taken as a direct attack on the status of the seafaring profession. We feel that if a uniform has to be worn, and they it should be worn properly. 

We also feel that the quality and standards onboard can be undermined by the disrespectful use of uniforms. The quality and standard of the use of uniform on board is directly proportional to the quality and standard of the professional work on board. Not all companies have any system of or insist on uniforms today. Research into the aspect of wearing of uniforms has shown that people (employees) in a particular working group prefer the sense of team spirit and pride in the job generated by the use of uniforms. 

Given a choice they will want to wear a uniform. Many seafarers — masters, chief engineers and other officers have said that uniform is a tangible recognition of the onboard work and requires expertise to qualify for wearing one. The use of uniform not only identifies one with the profession but also brings about an automatic sense of discipline; the difference in rank stripes also clearly shows the rank and area of responsibility of the officer concerned. The use of uniform also does away with any distinction of religion, caste, creed or economic differences and brings about a more harmonious working amongst the people. 

As said before, tradition runs strong In the history of mankind and you will uphold this tradition too. In case your Company has a policy for the use of uniforms on board, for reasons explained above, we hope you will follow It In letter and spirit and adhere to the uniform requirements; It Is very Important part of maintaining order on board ships.  

Failure and motivation 

Seafaring is one area where your self-motivation needs to be very strong and determined. Many a time when things just don’t seem right, you may have persons to guide you when you are ashore. There may be a lack of a suitable mentor on board but let this not make you despondent. The work Is very interesting and should provide adequate distraction from minor worries. The best way not to fail is not to work at all. Learn to make every failure a stepping-stone to success. 

Work conditions



You may experience extreme conditions. It may be 48 degree centigrade in some areas and within 20 days, you may encounter freezing temperatures. You should be able to take necessary precautions to combat each. Remember to replenish body fluids as and when required. 



We may safely assume that while you are reading this you are sailing on board a merchant ship and have gone through this formality. Anyway, this is something you will have to MANAGE right through your career. As long as you travel you will need to meet the various International and government requirements. You will need to take care of the following. 

► Have a valid passport with sufficient validity to cover your intended tenure and allow a reasonable safe margin to take care of delays. 

► Health book with valid vaccinations like cholera and yellow fever etc. 

► National or other C.D.C. or equivalent seafarer’s identity documents. indentures as a cadet 

► Appointment letters and contract or service agreement as may be required

► A Valid Visa for the country you are travelling ti fir joining a ship, be guided by the advice of your company regarding this as these requirements change frequently and also many countries do not require visa for seamen in transit.

Note: It is important to keep photocopies of all the documents. Make such copies before you join a ship. Keep one copy with you and the others at home.You never know when you would need these.

 Another pad of documentation is the maintenance of the technical journal and the Cadet Record Book, In addition, we suggest that you should maintain a personal diary where you should note Important events that you would like to remember later.

Apart from this we are sure your are carrying sufficient clothing and other gear to cover all weather conditions and your professional textbooks to continue your studies on board.  

Personal conduct & relationship on board 

Discipline Is essential In any organisation, more so In the merchant navy which is frequently referred to as the second line or defence. 

Your cadetship tenures are the most Important formative years of your career. Young cadets normally board a ship with an open and enquiring mind, enthusiastic and keen to learn. You are going through learning and training phase and you can learn from crew as well as from all officers in various ranks. Your attitude, conduct and behaviour would determine the Interest other staff take In you and teaching you. 

Maintaining a very good and cordial relationship with other co seafarers is necessary. It gives you pleasure and you also feel good. 

As a trainee, you may be asked to carry out various jobs and tasks. All this is a part of your training process. As you become more senior and professionally qualified, more tasks may be delegated to you. It Is expected of all ranks, Including cadets that all on board must carry out all legal and lawful orders of their superiors. 

This is a requirement by law also. So do just that you are at present at the bottom of the ships hierarchy structure, however, remember that Chief Officer (or the Master, as may be the practice in your company) is the officer in charge of your training and the one to give orders to you. If In doubt about Any activity, think and act safe, confirm with the chief officer before you start doing any task about which you have any doubts.

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