Most unlicensed seamen start their careers in entry-level positions working on deck, in the engineering spaces or in the Stewards Department. After meeting minimum sea time requirements, an entry-level seaman is eligible to take a US Coast Guard exam for advancement to Able Seaman (AB) or Qualified Member of the Engine Department (QMED). Porters are not required to take exams for promotion to Second Cook or Steward in the Stewards Department.
Individuals who have had prior service in the military or other government agencies with qualifying shipboard experience may be immediately eligible for endorsements as Able Seaman, Qualified Member of the Engine Department or for a license as an engineer. Such individuals are encouraged to contact any US Coast Guard Regional Examination Center for additional information. You may also refer to the Code of Federal Regulations, 46CFR10.213, sea service as a member of the armed forces of the United States and on vessels owned by the United States as qualifying experience.
The Ordinary Seaman (OS) is an unlicensed entry level member of the Deck Department crew. Performs work pertaining to general maintenance, repair, sanitation, and upkeep of material, equipment, and areas that are the responsibility of the Deck Department. General maintenance consists of, but is not limited to: chipping, scaling, scraping, priming, painting, sounding and or cleaning of the ship’s hull, decks, superstructure, cargo gear, smokestack, rescue boats, lifeboats and or life rafts, emergency and damage control gear, and working aloft. Performs traditional shipboard marlinespike seamanship duties that include the splicing of wire rope, as well as synthetic and natural fiber lines, reaving and unreaving blocks and falls, overhauling and maintaining both standing and running rigging, cargo loading, discharging, shoring, lashing, and rigging cargo nets, slings, ladders, boat fenders, tricing pendants and gangways. This includes sweeping, scrubbing, sougeeing and conducting wash downs in general, and the sorting and proper disposal of trash and garbage.
The Wiper is an unlicensed entry level member of the Engine department crew. Responsible for cleaning and preservation of engine department spaces, systems, equipment and equipment components. Receive and carry out instructions of supervisors to clean and/or preserve engine department spaces, system equipment and equipment components. Use chemicals for cleaning, such as detergents, solvents and preservatives such as paint. Use tools such as chipping hammers, scrapers, needle guns, paint brushes, wire brushes, brooms and mops, and is familiar in the use of hand and power tools (i.e. drills, saws, wrenches, hammers, chisels, etc.).
Entry level courses for both Ordinary Seamen and Oiler/Wipers are:
- Basic Training (Formerly Basic Safety Training)
- Vessel Personnel with Designated Security Duties
- Advanced Fire Fighting