Deck cadets serve on ships, including commercial and tourist vessels, as part of the team that handles the daily operations and efficient running of the ship. Though the deck cadet assists with jobs such as navigation and maintenance, the role of deck cadet is mostly a training position, the first step toward becoming a ship officer; as such, a duty officer oversees the deck cadet at all times and takes full responsibility for the cadet's work.
Maintenance and Safety
A key general duty for the deck cadet is the maintenance of areas on the ship. For example, the deck cadet might be appointed to oversee a specific deck and will need to direct other crew members as they go about their business in this area. In addition, the deck cadet assists in ensuring that lifesaving equipment, including life jackets, firefighting gear and lifeboats, is fully functioning. In the event it is not, she is tasked with necessary repairs.
Under supervision, the deck cadet assists with the driving of the ship. The cadet is often engaged in traffic negotiations with other vessels on the sea and is expected to handle these situations. When a ship comes to port, the deck cadet is involved in the safe mooring and anchoring of the vessel, often directing crew as appropriate.
While a ship is at port, the deck cadet becomes involved in port operations to gain experience in this side of a seafaring career. This work can include taking part in the "watch" and supervising the arrival and departure of the ship, as well as meeting port officials and handling other aspects of a ship's commercial business. In addition, the cadet may take charge when it comes to cargo operations, directing other crew members in the loading and discharge of the ship's cargo and ensuring that these tasks are performed correctly.
Away from the hands-on navigation of the ship, the deck cadet makes sure the vessel is fully prepared for the voyage. She checks the nautical flags and charts to ensure everything is present and up to date. She also checks and familiarizes herself with the ship's route and other related information.
The deck cadet helps maintain the recordkeeping on a ship. These duties include the daily taking of position reports as well as the regular updating of the ship's nautical charts and logbook. The cadet also checks that these records are accurate.