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Departments Onboard a Ship and their Functions




Emmanuel Umoh
Departments Onboard a Ship and their Functions

There are three major departments onboard a ship responsible for the effective running of a ship and smooth operational interface. These departments are;

  1. Deck department
  2. Engineering department
  3. Catering department.

Details on the various departments onboard a ship and their functions:

1. Deck department

The deck department which is headed by the captain has a two-fold task of administration and navigation.
Administratively the deck department is responsible for the general welfare of the crew; It oversees save working conditions for crew members, acts as a liaison between ship owners, chatterers and the crew.  And it is responsible for the navigation and maneuvering of the ship. The Bridge is the control room of a ship’s navigation and the pinnacle of the deck department.

Merchant Navy Officers Ranks /Cadres in the Deck Department:

  • Chief Officer/Chief mate
  • Second officer/Second mate
  • Third officer/Third mate
  • Deck Cadets

Deck Ratings / Rates (non-officers)

  • Bosun (Boatswain)
  • Able Bodied Seaman (AB)
  • Ordinary Seaman (OS)
  • Trainee OS

2. Engineering department

Tasked with the smooth operation, maintenance and repairs of onboard equipments, Engineers ensure that ship’s engines and machineries are running in perfect condition. They run checks on ship’s engines and machineries, carry out necessary repairs and maintenance, fix electrical and electronic faults and is responsible for the sewage, refrigeration, air-condition  and hydrophore systems onboard.

Merchant Navy Officers Ranks /Cadres in the Engineering Department:

  • Chief Engineer
  • Second engineer / First assistant engineer
  • Third engineer / Second assistant engineer
  • Fourth engineer / Third assistant engineer
  • Engine Cadet

Engine Ratings / unlicensed:

  • Fitter
  • Motorman
  • Oiler
  • Wiper
  • Trainee Fitter / Trainee Wiper

3. Catering department

The catering department is headed by the chief cook or camp boss, assisted by stewards. The main duty of this department is to provide food for the crew onboard. This department makes inquisition for the supply of food, oversees the storage, processing and serving of food onboard. In most cases the catering department is also responsible for the cleaning of officer’s cabins and provision of laundry services onboard.

Merchant Navy Ranks /Cadres in the Catering Department:

  • Chief Cook
  • Trainee Cook
  • Steward


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