The Captain of the ship has to start somewhere at the beginning of his/her career. It is in the cadetship program that future officers are being trained in their future responsibilities.
The deck cadet has a lot of duties and responsibilities on board. The main tasks include duties on the bridge, whether the vessel is in port or at sea. The other part consists of responsibilities on the main deck of the ship.
Proper training and exposure to tasks onboard will enable future officers to have confidence and be competent. It is imperative that they are guided and trained in what is expected from them.
Deck Cadet Familiarization
As soon as a deck cadet joins his/her first vessel, he/she embarks on a journey of how it works in the real world. In this case, what’s the atmosphere like of working and living on board a real vessel? He/she reports to the Master and is assigned to the Chief officer for his/her initial familiarization onboard.
As with any new crew on board, safety familiarization is of utmost importance. The cadet is given his personal lifejacket and immersion suit. He or she is then briefed on his or her responsibilities during Fire emergency and Abandonship as well as the location of EHQ (Emergency Headquarters).
In case of fire, he/she can either be assigned to the bridge or the support team. On bridge duty, he will assist the 3rd officer and Master during drills and actual emergencies. Once in the support team, he will be responsible for preparing fire hoses, and hydrants and assisting the group.
For Abandon ship, he/she will be assigned to a designated lifeboat, either starboard side or Portside. He/she will be familiarized with the launching of the lifeboat and the equipment inside. He/she may be assigned to secure the drain plug of the lifeboat or hold the painter line.
Duties of Deck Cadet in Port
When the vessel is at the port. A cadet may be taken by officers for shore leave to refresh and allow him to experience other things. Nevertheless, he/she will still be assigned duties for the duration of the ship’s stay in port. Daily tasks would include tank soundings for ballast including fresh/drinking water tanks.
Tank soundings play a crucial role in ship stability and cargo survey which is being updated every day by Cargo officers. The cadet also learns draft surveys under the supervision of the 3rd/2nd officer from draft readings and takings density of water. He may join six-hour shifts under the 2nd officer or 3rd officer.
In this manner, the cadet develops his daily routine as well as takes responsibility for the assigned task. He may also assist the able seaman in checking the tightness of mooring lines as well as maintenance of deck equipment used during the loading and discharging of cargo. For a day job in port, he will be under the Bosun’s care.
Docking and undocking operations are also critical in the responsibility of the cadet. From rigging of the pilot ladder to the preparation of gangway for stevedores, deck cadets are made aware of the ship’s preparation before arrival in port. He/she may also be assigned a forward station for anchorage or docking maneuvers.
Handling of mooring lines, anchor windlass, and preparation of cargo holds are some of the responsibilities the cadets may be assigned to. They may also take part in the Piracy watch and ISPS watch when the ship is at the port or anchorage area.
Duties of Deck Cadet at Sea
At sea or during navigation, deck cadets will have duties on the bridge and maintenance on the deck. This will be crucial in his training as a future officer of the watch and in the management of people as a senior officer on board.
For his/her bridge duties, he/she will be partnered with the 3rd officer, 2nd officer, as well as with the Chief officer. In this manner, the cadet will be guided by the officers in how they perform their bridge duties. From doing observation to making entries in the official deck log book, as well as preparation of port documents.
Learning how to use bridge equipment like ARPA radar, ECDIS, AIS, GPS, echo sounder, Gyro Steering system, GMDSS equipment like VHF, Inm-C, MF/HF, EPIRB’s, and SART, enables the cadets to become full pledge officers someday. The Master and Chief officer oversees the duties of the cadets.
Deck work is the other part of the responsibilities of deck cadets. Maintenance would include surface preparation like chipping, feathering, and the application of appropriate paint. On deck, the cadets are learning the practice of good seamanship.
From the forecastle deck to the poop deck, cargo holds and cargo gears, he/she is responsible for greasing, changing wires, oil replacement, and assisting the deck crew to make sure everything on deck is working properly, maintained, and in good working order.