If you have watched the movie Titanic (I wonder who hasn’t) then you must have seen the command and authority that a Captain wields on board a vessel and how he is the last one to escape during an emergency. Learn about the various aspects of navigating officers in this article.
The deck officers have a white collared job; with the development of technology their jobs have eased up a lot as compared to the days when Columbus set out to sail across the seven seas. Just imagine if you are in the middle of an ocean and only have the stars to guide you, where would you head to? This problem was faced by the earlier sailors and they developed several techniques for finding the position and direction of motion of the ship using stars as relative markers. Later on several instruments such as sextant were used for the same purpose.
With the development of hi-tech radars, vision aids, Navigational Telex and the GPS system these things have become much more reliable and easy for the navigating officers. The place where the navigating officers perform their duty (or watch) is known as the bridge and is mostly on the top most level of the accommodation of the vessel. This is in contrast to the place where engineers work (Engine Room & Engine Control Room) which is below the main deck level (comparable to underground level on earth) and the only things visible are the machineries. Of course the current trend is to have a combined bridge and engine control room at one place though still the old pattern is mostly followed. See the adjacent picture to get an idea on what a bridge looks like.
Like I mentioned before the Captain or the Master is the overall commander of a commercial ship and is also considered to be the company representative onboard the vessel. The next rank is the chief officer followed by second navigating officer and the third navigating officer respectively. There can also be one or more trainees known as deck cadets who haven’t yet cleared their first certificate of competency (we will study in detail about CoCs in a separate article). Hence this rank hierarchy can be expressed as follows
There are still a lot of things to be learnt about navigating officers but this much should suffice for this article. We will take up this topic elsewhere in different articles such as ones dealing with CoCs and so forth.