Sea Transport Worker

There are various different tasks which need to be perormed by sea transport workers.

Deck and Engine room Rating: Deck and engine-room workers are responsible for maintaining the exterior of the ship, lookout watches at sea, gangway duties in port and cleaning, repairing and ensuring that the ship's engine is kept in good working order. These workers are trained in the art of seamanship and general nautical knowledge.

Quartermaster: In addition to normal deck duties the quartermaster is responsible for manning the gangway in port, making deck rounds, checking moorings and steering in restricted water.

Boatswain: This is a petty officer in charge of the quartermasters and deck crew and takes orders from the first / chief officer of the ship.

Watchkeeper: In addition to normal engine-room duties, the watchkeeper assists the senior engineer officer on watch with watchkeeping duties, maintains the engine and supervises engine-room cleanliness.

Maintenance assistant: The engine-room leading hand is the petty officer in charge of the watchkeepers and engine-room crew. The maintenance assistant is responsible for checking, stowage and the security of engine-room stores and takes orders from the second engineer officer.

Personal Requirements

  • over the age of 16
  • love the sea and outdoor life
  • good health and physically fit
  • willing to live in a confined space

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

A T2 diploma in Maritime Studies from either Northlink, CPUT or DUT is needed. Thereafter, applicants apply to a shipping company in order to obtain 20 months practical on board training before sitting their orals for their Class Three Deck Certificate of Competency.

During the next three and a half years of qualifying sea time, officers can obtain a Class Two Certificate and finally the Class One Certificate. This will entitle them to take command of any South African merchant vessel on foreign or coastal voyages.


  • private shipping companies such as Irvine and Johnson and the SA Marine Corps
  • shipping charter companies

Further Information

The Personnel Manager
South African Marine Cooperation
P O Box 27
Cape Town, 8000

The Personnel Manager
Unicorn Lines (Pty) Ltd
P O Box 29031
Maydon Wharf, 4057

The Personnel Department
Sea Harvest Corporation (Pty) Ltd
P O Box 52
Saldanha, 7395

If you are interested in the career of a sea transport worker on a combat ship, you can contact the SA Navy at the following address:

Officer in charge of naval recruiting
Private Bag X104
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 339-4112

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation or part-time work with a shipping company
  • arrange to speak to sea transport workers about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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