Deck Cadet Life
Life At Sea Marine Things

Life of a Deck Cadet Onboard Ship


Deck Cadet Life

Deck Cadet is an apprentice onboard ship. After successful completion of their pre-sea course they have to go through a 18 or 12 months onboard training, which is usually divided into 3 or 2 phases (approx 6 months each). Let’s have a look on how a Deck Cadet Life is…


Scenario (Joining a vessel): I was with 4th engineer and our boat has reached near the ship for us to board the vessel.Deck Cadet Life

I was looking at the Gangway thinking what if I fall, though I was least worried about me but the documents I was carrying inside my bag….actually these are the silly thoughts you are full of when you are extra conscious….more over I was taking all the measures to keep my valuable documents safe & secure. On reaching to the decided place we passed our baggages up with the help of rope and boarded the vessel (Trysil Spirit) safely.

Next morning when I opened my eyes and searched for my cell phone…. it was 0315 hrs when I tried to find out the location we were sailing on the giant Sea….but it was no use because a thick dark was prevailing the surrounding which failed my effort…. although I had set my alarm for 0345 hrs but the excitement of welcoming the very first day woke me up little early and still I had almost 45 minutes to start My watch. 

While I was freshening up I heard a loud ring from the bridge….it was a wakeup call for me and guys let me tell you it is an annoying ring of the telephone which can awake you no matter how deep you are sleeping. I’m sure most of you would relate the same.

It was so dark there when I went to Bridge, …..a bright glare was spreading over the equipments which made me little hazy to see through….it took more than a minute to adjust my eyes….Meanwhile Chief Officer also reached on the spot and took over watch from 2nd Officer. For a gap he didn’t say anything and continued looking at radar screen then he said “aur kahan se hai?” (where are you from?)….and started shooting questions to me…..perhaps he wants more to know about me.

It was my second ship so it didn’t take much time to get familiar with the equipments which were lying there. Till 0800 hrs I did my watch. Then I went down, had my breakfast, put on my boiler suit and reached at Ship’s office (CO’s second cabin). Where Chief Officer addressed all the Deck Crew members and assigned their respective task. I got to work with Pumpy (Pumpman).

life of deck cadet onboard
Ship’s Office (Trysil Spirit)

We were at the bottom platform of pump room where our job was to clean the stripper pump and overhauling some of the valves. I worked till 1200 hrs with Pumpy, after that I left him alone to manage himself. Being 1200-1500 hrs my rest time, I went up for lunch and had my favourite nap afterwards.

I woke up at 1445 hrs and rejoined the Pumpy to complete the remaining task. By the time we finished the job it was around 1700 hrs then I rushed to my Cabin, took bath and went for Dinner. When I looked at my wrist watch and found that some time is still left for my evening watch and I got engaged with my One Plus. Late in the evening by 2000 hrs I finished my watch. I put on my favourite denim jeans which was matching with my dark blue NIKE T-Shirt. I entered into the recreational room where few of crew members were already lighting the atmosphere with their presence and few minutes later we all were indulge in to introduce each other. I had really a nice evening and felt little lighter since we were all far from their kith and kins.

This is a Deck Cadet life which would be going to be a routine for rest of my contracted tenure… Though one’s responsibilities keep changing according to the Chief Officer’s instructions and demand of the situation.

Sometimes it becomes too hectic during cargo operation in ports, but it will be compensated by shore leaves. Although it is not compulsory that there is shore leave in every port, sometimes work schedule at port is too busy that it is not possible to go out. In my first ship I didn’t get any but I was lucky in my second ship that I had many outings. When I went out in Sydney, I got to see this beautiful Vivid Festival.

Deck Cadet Life
Vivid Festival in Sydney, Australia

Jobs of Deck Cadet Onboard Ship

1. Navigation Watch: It is the most important job for cadets, they are there to learn Navigation. Cadet usually do watch with Chief Officer and learn all the duties of Officer On Watch (OOW).

Deck Cadet Life
Navigation Bridge (Trysil Spirit)

2. Stencilling: On Deck stencilling is the primary job of every deck cadet. You can say they are incharge of all the stencilling on deck.

3. Tank Sounding: Cadet needs to manually take soundings of all the tanks and it is to be recorded daily on log book.

4. Deck Maintenance: Cadet usually do chipping, painting and work with Pumpman on various jobs like overhauling of valve, work on pipelines, work on pumps etc. These are the jobs that they should have done so that latter when they become Chief Officer they knows about the job well, prior assigning to others.

Life of a deck cadet onboard
Deck and Pipelines (Trysil Spirit)

5. LSA/FFA: Stands for Life Saving Appliances and Fire Fighting Appliances. Maintenance of LSA/FFA comes under 3rd Officer, cadet will be helping him for the maintenance. Cadet should be well familiar with all the LSA/FFA maintenance by the end of their cadetship.

6. Paper Work: Cadet has to assist Chief Officer in almost all of his Paper Work like maintain the records, log the soundings etc.

7. Cargo Operation: This comes under Chief Officer and cadet has to assist him by monitoring the level of tanks, Cargo calculations, Gauging of tanks etc.

Cargo Control Room (Trysil Spirit)
Cargo Control Room (Trysil Spirit)

8. Port Watches: They has to do ISPS watch and Cargo watch, with other fellow members. In ISPS watch they will be checking port activities, people coming onboard and log their records. In Cargo watch they will be checking the cargo that every thing is going well or not. If they finds anything unusual they will report to their seniors.

9. Mooring Operation: Cadet need to actively take part in Mooring Operation under the supervision of Deck Officers. When they become a 3rd Officer they will also be incharge of Mooring Operation. 

10. Project Work: This also comes under the jobs of cadet, while doing hands on training they should know the theory part also and keep the record of every task they have done. Chief Officer should give some free time to cadet so they can complete their project work. It is a part of SSTP.


It is not actually salary, it is stipend which is given to cadet for his training period and this varies from company to company and Country to Country. Normally stipend of Deck Cadet is between 250$ (18000rs) to 500$ (35000rs) for Indian Deck Cadet.

Related Article: How to join Merchant Navy as a Deck Cadet.

Deck Cadet life onboard is tough and it has to be then only they will be able to be a good Officer in future. It is their training period in which they should grasp maximum. This is the time they can do mistakes and learn from them.

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