Captains and Mates on Water Vessels Job Description video

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Seafaring is not just a career…it’s a lifestyle. Captains and mates spend months at a time on vessels of all sizes…on inland lakes and rivers, as well as the open sea. Captains and mates are the senior officers of the ship. Earning one of these positions usually comes after years on board, demonstrating competence and working your way up through the ranks. The captain is responsible for every aspect of the voyage. He or she sets course and speed, directs crew members and ensures that proper procedures are followed, keeping logs and records of the ship's movements and cargo. The captain checks that the vessel is in good working order -- ship-shape, as they say -- and supervises the loading and unloading of cargo and passengers. Mates are the captain's "right hands." They manage and train the deck crew. They inspect and maintain inventories of equipment and order needed repairs. They stand watch, overseeing ship operations and navigation when the captain is not on duty. Life afloat is very demanding, both physically and mentally. You need to be in good physical shape to tolerate the extremes of weather and irregular hours of life aboard ship. You need to be alert, and ready to respond to unexpected danger at all times. Captains and mates usually hold 4-year degrees from maritime colleges or academies. On ships registered in the U.S., they must take a rigorous exam and be licensed by the Coast Guard. If you're willing and able to handle a lot of responsibility -- and can't resist the call of the sea, you might set sail for a nautical career.

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