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Up on the deck and on the bridge

The master

The navigation and maintenance of the ship falls to the officers and deck crew. A constant watch is kept on the sea and weather conditions. The crew are vigilant to rust from the saltwater and the daily routine of cleaning ensures a safe and well-maintained ship.

Canadian Pacific master on deck

Magnifying glassCanadian Pacific master on deck

The deck officers and the seamen under their control have a variety of responsibilities. They navigate and steer the ship, setting and keeping to a course that avoids hazards (including, if possible, bad weather). Their aim is to get the ship to its destination quickly and safely. At sea, they are responsible for maintaining the exterior of the ship. To do this the seamen will chip rust, repaint the hull, and overhaul equipment such as derricks and lifeboats. When berthing, an officer and some seamen will deal with the ropes from tugs or the quay. In harbour, the deck officers ensure that the cargo is stowed safely, and in the right order for it to be discharged at the various ports of call.

Southampton Speaks

audio`Queen Mary` master (0:51)

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In overall charge is the captain or master. Although not always having the day-to-day responsibility for running the ship (which is usually delegated to the first officer), the master is completely accountable when anything goes wrong. So in bad weather, or in tricky waters, the master will usually be on the bridge.


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