The deck department comprises all the navigating officers and seaman ratings carried onboard. Their duties and responsibilities are as follows:
Navigating officers. They are responsible for the “driving” of the vessel. By this is meant:

  1. The safe navigation of the vessel.
  2. Managing the day to day running of the vessel.
  3. As watchkeepers, they are in charge of the bridge and deck watches.
  4. Ensuring that deck maintenance is carried out.
  5. Ensuring that regular radio contact is maintained with the relevant shore authorities.
  6. Communicating with other vessels at sea.
  7. Ensuring that the correct emergency procedures are followed during drills and in real emergencies.
  8. Ensuring the efficient and safe loading, stowing and discharging of cargo. On general cargo vessels this includes the drawing up of cargo stowage plans to ensure that the stability of the vessel is not compromised.
  9. Ensuring that a careful watch on the weather is maintained and that weather reports are correctly interpreted.
  10. If participating in the weather reporting programme, they are responsible for collecting the required meteorological data and sending it to the applicable meteorological office.
  11. The safe berthing and sailing of the vessel.
  12. Ensuring that safety regulations are followed at all times.
  13. Ensuring that safety equipment is properly maintained and tested regularly. This includes lifeboats, life rafts, life jackets, fire fighting equipment and appliances, flares, etc.
  14. Ensuring high standards of hygiene are maintained aboard.
  15. Applying first aid medical measures to personnel who are injured in accidents or mishaps aboard.
  16. Ensuring all necessary documentation is completed as required. This includes keeping the log book up to date.

Bosun. The bosun is the senior rating onboard a vessel. His responsibilities include:

  1. Taking charge of the junior ratings.
  2. Detailing their duties.
  3. Ensuring that they perform all tasks allocated them and that they are satisfactorily performed.
  4. Ensuring that deck maintenance is efficiently carried out.
  5. He is in charge of the berthing party when coming into and departing a port.
  6. He is responsible for the preparation and manning of the rescue boat.
  7. During emergencies he will take charge of personnel allocated to him for whatever tasks they may be required to perform.
  8. He is responsible for doing regular rounds of the ship and the cargo to ensure that all is well.
  9. As the senior rating aboard he is the contact point between the ratings and the officers.

Able seamen and efficient deck ratings. These are the “workers” aboard ship. Their responsibilities include:

  1. The physical maintenance of the ship’s structure and fittings. This includes tasks like chipping and painting, waterproofing and lubricating equipment.
  2. The handling, maintenance and making up of running and standing rigging, cordage, hawsers and wires.
  3. The physical handling of hawsers and wires during berthing and unberthing of the ship.
  4. The manning of the rescue craft/lifeboats.
  5. Steering the ship when and if required.
  6. Carrying out emergency drills and fire fighting measures when required.
  7. Standing watches on the bridge as lookout.
  8. Carrying out loading, stowing and discharging procedures when required.
  9. Carrying out the duties of sentry at the gangway when alongside in harbour.