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Tankerman Job Description

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Generally, the main responsibility of a tankerman is to prepare and maintain the vessel he's assigned to and to monitor the safe and efficient transfer of liquid cargo to and from the vessel. The exact job responsibilities will depend on the requirements of his employer and the type of vessel he works on -- for example a barge on a river or an oil tanker on the high seas. A tankerman must be capable of heavy physical labor, be familiar with government regulations regarding the vessel he is working on and be able to work prolonged hours and days, because shifts aboard the vessel can run from several days to several months.

General Job Responsibilities

The tankerman ensures the safety of the vessel and that it complies with government regulations, including confirming that all necessary documents are complete and accurate. He must be able to communicate clearly, in English, with all personnel and verify that each worker clearly understands his job duties. The tankerman must be able to handle, overhaul, rig and maintain all lines in addition to performing general maintenance of the vessel, such as chipping and painting and general maintenance of on-board equipment.

Education and License Requirements

Most marine companies required that the tankerman has either a high school diploma or a GED. The tankerman must have the required documentation and license, based on the vessel he will be working on. For instance, for a tankerman working on a vessel transporting petroleum or other chemicals, the employer may require courses to meet requirements detailed in federal regulations under 46 CFR Part 197 Subpart C – Benzene. Additionally, the tankerman must be familiar with and follow the environmental and legal regulations in the jurisdiction where he's working, in addition to having the necessary license.

Safety and Rescue Requirements

The tankerman is responsible for safe working and living conditions on board. He must be capable of training other personnel in safety and dealing with emergency situations. He has to be able to wear safety equipment, including gloves, goggles, steel-toe boots and a respirator. He may help in firefighting situations and needs to be familiar with the necessary equipment. The tankerman must understand the material safety data sheets carried on board and be able to communicate necessary information to the crew.

Physical Demands

The tankerman must be in excellent physical condition because of the heavy physical demands of the job. Flexibility is necessary, including a full range of motion, because some responsibilities, such as tying up a vessel, may require twisting and flexing in awkward positions. A tankerman may have to climb ladders, walk catwalks and walk on surfaces that are uneven or slippery. He must have a good sense of smell to be able to detect potentially dangerous odors. He also needs good lung function to be able to perform heavy labor and should possess dexterity to handle tools, strength for heavy lifting and the ability to walk several miles a day as he monitors the condition of the rigging and vessel during transferring operations.


Diane Stevens' professional experience started in 1970 with a computer programming position. Beginning in 1985, running her own business gave her extensive experience in personal and business finance. Her writing appears on Orbitz's Travel Blog and other websites. Stevens holds a Bachelor of Science in physics from the State University of New York at Albany.

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