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Officers and Crew



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The Katrin S. had a total of 6 officers and 12 crew working on board.  The officers can be thought of as the “management” of the ship, while the crew can be thought of as “labor”.  It is not uncommon for a person occupying a crew position to advance to the officer level as experience is gained over the years.

Overall, I found the officers and crew of the Katrin S. to be a great bunch of guys.

All of those working on board are a member of either the engine department (those working in the engine room) or the deck department (which includes everybody else).

The officers and crew of the Katrin S. were from the countries of Germany, The Philippines, Portugal, Romania and The Ukraine.  It is interesting that English is not the native language of ANY of the officers or crew, but it was the common language aboard the ship.  That apparently is not uncommon on modern freighters, and proved rather convenient for me as an English-speaking passenger.

Officer Duties:

The officers are responsible for management of the ship.  The deck officers include the Captain, First Mate, Second Mate and Third Mate.  The engineering officers included the chief engineer and the second engineer.

Crew Duties:

Most of the deck crew spends their time cleaning and maintaining the non-engine areas of the ship.  In the two weeks I was aboard the Katrin S., probably a third of the ship was repainted.  The decks were regularly hosed off to keep the corrosive salt spray from building up on deck.

The cook and steward are responsible for cooking and serving food for the ship.  The steward is also responsible for cleaning the living areas.

The crew of the engine department assists the engineers in maintaining and cleaning the equipment in the engine room.  They seemed to have done an excellent job of keeping it clean.

A Life at Sea:

I was very impressed by the degree to which the various officers and crew aboard the Katrin S. were willing to freely discuss their feelings about a life at sea, and about the other officers and crew serving on the ship.  The most consistent comment was that the people I talked to did not enjoy being at sea.  The reason most of them were there was because the pay was good compared to what they could earn back home.  One particular officer on the Katrin S. made about $1500 per month, and with that was able to support a wife and two kids in the Philippines.  The wife didn’t even have to work.  Not only that, but they employed a driver and a nanny for the kids.  I am not sure I know too many people in the US who would be able to do that.

The Captain was very close to retirement, and couldn’t wait to do so.  He said that being at sea isn’t what it used to be.  The workload and hassles were much greater now.  He was sick of it.  I have to say, though, that as negative as general feelings seemed to be about their chosen career, I found the people on board to be a very friendly and gregarious bunch of guys.

Free Time On-Board:

The crew mess was the most popular hangout on the ship.  Crewmembers and officers often hung out here in the evenings and watched videos and/or had a beer with others.  On a few occasions there were parties there for birthdays or if someone was leaving the ship soon.  Sextant (section-end indicator)

Continue to the next section of Freighter Bum: The Bridge.



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