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Sailors and Marine Oilers Career Video

Description: Stand watch to look for obstructions in path of vessel, measure water depth, turn wheel on bridge, or use emergency equipment as directed by captain, mate, or pilot. Break out, rig, overhaul, and store cargo-handling gear, stationary rigging, and running gear. Perform a variety of maintenance tasks to preserve the painted surface of the ship and to maintain line and ship equipment. Must hold government-issued certification and tankerman certification when working aboard liquid-carrying vessels. Includes able seamen and ordinary seamen.

Video Transcript

Outdoors every day in sun, wind, and rain, with steady legs on a shifting deck, at times with no land in sight… the lifestyle of sailors and marine oilers isn’t for everyone, but for those who love life on the water, there’s nothing like it. Sailors—also called deckhands— operate and maintain vessels and deck equipment, and keep their ship in good working order. Sailors stand watch for hazards or other vessels in the ship’s path, and keep track of navigational buoys to stay on course. They clean decks, maintain lifeboats, and paint and patch the ship’s surface. At port, sailors load and unload cargo. They also steer the ship under the direction of commanders, and handle lines to secure the ship when docking, leaving port, or to connect barges when towed by tugboats. Sailors communicate with other ships using the international signal language of lights and semaphores. Marine oilers are the engine room equivalent of sailors. They help engineers with maintenance and repairs to keep the propulsion system in working order. To load fuel supplies, they ensure hoses are secured and pumps operate correctly. Marine oilers monitor gauges and record data to document changes and that procedures have been followed. Although formal education usually is not required, these workers often need credentials issued by the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard National Maritime Center.