Able Seamen Job Description video

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Whether on inland waterways or on the high seas, able seamen or "deckhands" play an important role in the commercial shipping industry or merchant marines. When in port, they rig cargo booms and tend other machines used to load and unload a ship. When under way, they may stand watch, steer the ship, inspect, maintain, and operate life boats, anchors, cargo-handling machines, and other deck equipment. They also help maintain cables and lines, and the body of the ship itself. The typical career path begins in the union hiring hall, where one can apply for a job as an ordinary seaman. After at least a year of on-the-job training, you may take the tests for a Coast Guard license as an able seaman. Many seamen are hired for one overseas voyage at a time. But more permanent positions may be available on ships plying the nation's rivers, canals, and Great Lakes. The work is physically demanding and can be dangerous, especially when large storms arise on an overseas voyage. But if you love the beauty of the water and find satisfaction and peace in the rolling of the waves, a career as an able seaman may be right for you.

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