Common Mistakes Cadets make Onboard

1. Overview

  • The Merchant Navy is a dynamic and challenging profession. It is not everybody’s cup of tea. Onboard a Vessel, mistakes may prove to be costly for your profession and the people.  
  • A deck cadet is the lower-most rank among all the crew and officers. Their mistakes may not be as significant as others because the responsibilities are less challenging.
  • Nevertheless, there have been times, when a cadet’s mistakes have proven detrimental, either to his/herself or the ship.
  • In this Blog, we are going to look at some of the common mistakes to avoid, general duties, salary, and some other important factors to consider by a Deck Cadet

2. Duties of a Deck Cadet

deck cadet duties

Onboard a vessel, the crew is categorized into support, operational & management levels. A Deck Cadet is a support-level employee onboard with the primary job of gaining experience and learning the job of operational-level officers(3rd & 2nd Officers).

Some of the common jobs entrusted with a Deck Cadet onboard are as follows:

  • Navigation: A  cadet is not allowed to keep independent watches but may be present on the bridge to assist the Officer of the Watch(OOW).
  • Tank Sounding: A deck cadet is manually required to take soundings of all the tanks, and maintain a daily record in the logbook. 
  • Maintenance: A deck cadet usually does chipping, and painting along with working with the Pumpman on various jobs like overhauling valves, working on pipelines, working on pumps, etc.
  • Deck Work: A good Deck Cadet should always know the basics of Deck work and assist the bosun. This experience will help him/her become a wise officer.
  • LSA/FFA Maintenance: This comes directly under the job description of the 3rd officer. A deck cadet should assist and learn the same as it will be under his/her job description after a few years
  • Paperwork at sea: A deck cadet has to assist the Chief Officer in almost all his Paperwork like maintaining the records, soundings log, etc.
  • Port work and Cargo Operations: Work at port includes assisting the 3rd Officer with the paperwork (Bond store, crew declaration, etc.) i.e., keeping them stamped, signed, and ready with a fair number of photocopies.
  • Berthing/Unberthing Operations: When a vessel goes alongside (from one country to another), it’s completely the responsibility of the deck side. A cadet starts at the stations as a sort of a rating, mainly doing the physical work. A deck cadet’s duty normally includes assisting with preparations for departure and arrival at port.
  • Mooring Operation: A deck cadet is required to actively take part in the Mooring Operation under the supervision of the deck officers.
  • Project work: The Chief Officer grants the cadet some free time so that they can complete his/her project work. It is a part of the Structured Shipboard Training Programme (SSTP).

At last, you (as a deck cadet) must stay highly aware at all times, for your safety. You must exercise safe working practices while doing all your duties as a deck cadet.

2.1 Deck Cadet Working Hours

  • Typically a Deck Cadet will be keeping Navigational watches with the Chief Officer from 0400-0800 hrs & 1600-2000 hrs. This totals to 8 hours of navigational watch on the bridge.
  • Deck Work, Maintenance, Paper Work, Assisting Deck officers, and Bosun will be scheduled apart from the Navigational Watch.
  • On average, A deck cadet will be working at least 10-12 hours every day. Sundays may be an exception when the workload is reduced.

3. Deck Cadet Salary

  • The salary of a Deck Cadet depends on the company as well as the type of vessel.
  • As an industry standard, good companies pay 500-800 dollars per month to deck cadets.
  • As the rank is the lowest of all, they have minimal knowledge and expertise about the operations.
  • As a Deck Cadet, you should never think about the salary. It is called Stipend’, instead of salary as you are being trained to become an officer and hence a salaried employee of the company

To Know more about the salary of Deck Cadets in various companies,

Salary of a Deck Cadet

4. Common Mistakes Made by Deck Cadets

These may vary depending on individuals but we have tried to provide some of the general mistakes that Deck cadets tend to repeat.

Here is a list, that may help you analyze your conduct as a deck cadet on board.

4.1 Ignoring the 2nd Mate Exam

  • While onboard, a Deck Cadet does not get enough time to prepare for the 2nd Mate Exam.
  • Proper planning and preparation are required for the exam as well as the various STCW courses to minimize the time required. Improper planning will cause undue delay

To get free guidance related to the 2nd Mate Exam, check out our free 2nd Mate Guidance Series from the website.

2nd Mate Exam Guidance Series

4.2 Negligence in filling up the TAR book

  • The Training And Record Book (TAR) is a part of the SSTP and is required to be completed by all cadets during their trainee period. 
  • There have been a lot of cases where the cadet was negligent in completing the TAR Book and did not get it signed by the Captain/ Chief Officer.
  • Generally, the Chief Officer will free up some time for the cadet to complete his/her record work. Do not waste that time and get it done before your contract ends.

4.3 Ignoring physical and mental health onboard

  • A healthy body and healthy mind can help you face the challenges onboard with ease. 
  • We tend to ignore mental health as it is not as apparently visible as physical health. 
  • Onboard a vessel, you may not get sufficient time to take care of them both but whenever possible set aside at least an hour a day for your mental and physical health

4.4 Lying about work

  • A lie onboard can cost a lot of lives. 
  • A seemingly insignificant job, such as taking soundings and reporting them incorrectly can be detrimental to the safety of the ship and its crew.
  • Try not to make mistakes but even if you do, never hide it from your superior officer. Honesty is often rewarded, sooner or later.

4.5 Ignoring Training Manuals

Solas Training Manual
  • SOLAS Training Manuals are always available in various conspicuous spaces such as mess rooms & recreational rooms
  • Training manuals are your best friend onboard if you want to know about any equipment, emergency procedures, or LSA/FFA appliances.
  • Make sure you go through such manuals whenever you get time. It will cause you no harm and increase your depth of knowledge

4.6 Disrespecting the Crew

disrespecting the crew
  • Understand that a deck Cadet is the lowest rank onboard. The officers and every other crew member hold a higher position and are paid more than a deck cadet
  • From a humanitarian point of view, disrespecting anybody is not justified. It is even more relevant onboard a ship as the 20-25 people will be like your family. At times of ardent need, only these people will help you.
  • Being respectful towards everybody may increase your value in your own eyes and others as well.

4.7 Inadequate interest in learning

  • Cadets are generally young, around 20-23 years of age. At this age, most of us tend to overlook the potential of learning and gaining knowledge. 
  • Cadetship is the time when you should learn as much as possible. Once you are an officer, nobody is going to teach you anymore. 
  • You are expected to be competent enough to be able to keep independent watches. So, understand the importance of learning during the trainee period.

4.8 Inadequate Familiarization

  • When you board the vessel as a cadet, you will familiarized with the ship and its operations by a senior officer.
  • Most Cadets either do not pay attention or do not understand properly.
  • It is recommended that you always carry a pocket diary and note down important details during the familiarization. You may also use your phone’s recording device

5. Conclusion

After reading the blog, you should have an idea about some of the common mistakes that you should avoid when you join a vessel as a Deck Cadet. The above list may differ from person to person, but the underlying principle remains the same: ‘Always be true to yourself and the ship’. Make Mistakes but make sure that you learn something. Cadetship is the best time to make mistakes and groom your personality around them, so, let’s sail in friendly seas!

Disclaimer :- The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Merchant Navy Decoded. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided and disclaim any responsibility for it. Data and visuals used are sourced from publicly available information and may not be authenticated by any regulatory body. Reviews and comments appearing on our blogs represent the opinions of individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of Merchant Navy Decoded. We are not responsible for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on these reviews or comments.

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