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Sea Captain

Sea Captain

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Published by Dayan. Capt

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Published by: Dayan. Capt on Nov 30, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Sea Captain: Master of the Ship
This last article of the series explains the role of the top dog-
a ship’s
Captain- at sea. Although this role is perceived surrounded by mystery andromance, it is a hard and lonely job, requiring an individual to be, literally,Master of many trades.
Responsibilities of the Captain
This is the top maritime job, that of a Master or Captain on board a cargo or passenger ship.A Captain is, simply, overall incharge of the entire vesseland the highest authority at sea. More specifically, he is in charge of safetyof the crew, vessel and cargo. He is charged with ensuring that allinternational and local laws are followed properly, and that all managementpolicies are fully complied with.He is responsible for the navigation and discipline of the crew. In addition,
although the Chief Engineer is directly responsibility for the ship’s
,the ‘Chief’ reports to the Captain
on all operational
matters, and the movement of the Engines are under the Master’s control.
 The Captain is overall responsible for the cargo and its stowage, and also
the ship’s accounts and the crew’s wages. He is directly responsible for all
certification as it pertains to the ship, whether from the Flag State (the
country who’s flag the ship flies), Classification Society (like Lloyds, etc) or 
any other. The Captain also communicates with shore authorities on anycommercial or other matters, including in response to oil spills or otheraccidents. After the World Trade Centre attacks, a new onerous duty hasbeen added to all of these- the Captain is responsible for the security of theship as well.If crew or passengers need medical attention, the Captain must ensure thatapproved adequate supplies exist on board to provide this, or to seek shoremedical assistance, including medical evacuation in some cases where it ispossible.Finally, the Captain is responsible for ensuring that proper and accuraterecords are kept by the vessel, and are made available to shore authoritiesin the event of an accident or when otherwise required.
 The Legendary Master
Even though one must be certified by the Flag State to sail as a Master onboard any of their ships, this is not enough to get one command of a shipas a Captain. Owners are very particular about the people they appoint asMasters, since they entrust millions of dollars of ship and cargo to this oneindividual, not to speak of the lives of their crews.
Many countries award different Master’s certification, and sometimes limit
the size (tonnage) of the ship a Captain can command. The highest
certificate is an ‘Unrestricted tonnage’ certificate, which allows a Captain to
command ships of any size without any limitations. Practically, many yearspass by the time a raw cadet gets command, and is typically around 12/15years at sea.Safety and security remains the Captains primary concern. Safety willinclude safety of navigation, personnel, cargo, machinery and theenvironment. Security duties are diverse too, and the Captain must ensurethat the ship follows approved security plans at all times, responding tothreats from pirates, hijackers and other criminals.
Consequences of a Captain’s mistakes
If rules are not followed adequately, the consequences can be disastrous.Ships are routinely detained- at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars aday to the owners- for non-compliance of international regulationspertaining to safety, security or the environment.Oil spills in the event of a leak can result in irreversible damage to theenvironment, along with claims of hundreds of millions of dollars. Mastersand other officers and crew are sometimes arrested and criminallyconvicted for such incidents.Lives may be put at risk if the navigation of a ship is unsafe. Alternately, ifthere is inadequate care of cargo, claims of millions of dollars are possible.And, of course, laxity in security arrangements will endanger the lives of allon board. As an example, thirty five seamen were killed in pirate attacksworldwide last year.

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