Difference Between Seamen and Deck Cadet

Seaman and deck cadet is both seafarers i.e., being someone who is employed to serve abroad in any type of vessel of Merchant Navy.


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A Merchant navy is a group of cargo ships and vessels that are registered in a particular country. On the ships of the merchant navy. 

Seamen vs Deck Cadet 

The difference between seamen and deck cadet is that a Seamen is the lowest-ranked unlicensed personnel in the deck department whose tasks include cleaning duties and generally standing out. Whereas the deck cadet is a trainee officer who learns the fundamental responsibilities of a deck officer when he onboards the ship.

Seamen vs Deck Cadet

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The two types of seamen are Able seamen and Ordinary seamen.

The duty of the able seaman is to complete tasks such as working mooring lines, operations of deck gear, working cargo, sometimes he also stands a navigational watch (generally as a lookout).

On the other hand, the tasks of ordinary seamen are to help with the general works.

The deck cadet is a trainee officer and also has the lowest post among all the deck officers, his primary tasks include learning the fundamental responsibilities of a ship officer in the ship.

After spending a satisfactory time period in the sea, and giving exams, they are provided with a certificate of operation of OICNW (Officer in Charge of the Navigational Watch).

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison  Seamen  Deck Cadet 
Ranking He is the lowest-ranked personnel in the merchant ship.  He is the lowest-ranked personnel among the deck officers on the ship. 
Type  He is not a trainee officer. He is a trainee officer. 
License He is an unlicensed member of the ship. He receives the license after spending sufficient sea time and giving proper exams. 
Promotions An ordinary seaman is generally promoted to the rank of Able Seamen and can go up to boatswain. A deck cadet after achieving a license can be promoted up to the rank of First Mate. 
Primary Duties He primarily assists the able seamen with his duties. He primarily learns navigation and follows the commands of other officers. 

What is Seaman? 

Also known as a sailor, a seaman is a person that works as a crew in the watercraft and can also work in any one of various fields that are related to maintenance and operation of the ship. They can work in both Military and civilian activity sectors.

He is considered an enlisted rank (rank below a commissioned officer) in the military.

They are unlicensed personnel in the deck department that works under the boatswain (highest ranking unlicensed personnel that carries out the tasks instructed by chief mate). They are of two types which are Able seamen and ordinary Seamen.

The responsibility of the seamen includes operating deck gear, working cargo, and cleaning duties. In the commonwealth, He is considered the lowest rank in the navy.

The countries in which seamen are considered as lowest rank is Australia (Royal Australian Navy), Canada, France, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, Malaysia, United States, and Venezuela.

The skills that are needed in seaman are Stamina, Physical, and Mindset. Their fields of engagement can either be Civilian organizations and companies or the Navy.

The work of an ordinary seaman can be physically demanding as it includes duties like washing, cleaning toilets, cleaning/painting the deck, and also performing operations on the gears of the vessel. 

What is Deck Cadet? 

Officers of deck department: –  They are licensed crew and also are answerable for the navigation and secure path of the ship. Deck officers are further divided into the following categories: –  

Chief mate: – He is the senior-most officer of the deck department. He is second in command after the captain. His primary duties are vessel stability, cargo operations, and commanding the deck crew.

He is responsible for the safety and security of the ship including its crew.  

The second mate: – He is a qualified officer in charge of the navigational watch (OICNW) watch standard, which directs the bridge team and also navigates the ship. He is the 3rd most skilled official after captain and first mate.  

The third mate: – He is also a capable OICNW watch standard. Its primary duty is to look after matters of safety. It includes inspecting the gear lockers and lifeboats also.

Other duties include the training of crew members. Generally, He or she is part of the command team during all the drills and emergencies.  

Deck cadet: – He is a trainee navigational officer. His duty is to learn all the primary roles of an officer on board the ship. After spending sufficient training time in the sea and giving proper exams they receive a certificate of competency of OICNW. 

Main Differences Between Seamen and Deck Cadet

  1. Seamen generally do the tasks that are pending on the ship whereas deck cadet performs the tasks that are assigned to him by his senior officer. 
  2. When it comes to experience then a seaman is generally more experienced than a deck cadet as the deck cadet is only a trainee officer. 
  3. The tasks of seamen are not specific while a deck cadet needs basic knowledge and skills of seamanship tasks. 
  4. A seaman is an unlicensed and a low ranked profession whereas a deck cadet is a licensed profession 
  5. The next rank of a seaman is boatswain, on the other hand, the next rank of a deck cadet is Third Mate. 
Difference Between Seamen and Deck Cadet
  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03088839.2016.1245449
  2. https://academic.oup.com/occmed/article-abstract/64/4/259/1464740
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