What does a Ship and Boat Captain do?

Command vessels in oceans, bays, lakes, rivers, or coastal waters.

Jobs Roles

  • Steer and operate vessels, using radios, depth finders, radars, lights, buoys, or lighthouses.
  • Compute positions, set courses, and determine speeds, using charts, area plotting sheets, compasses, sextants, and knowledge of local conditions.
  • Inspect vessels to ensure efficient and safe operation of vessels and equipment and conformance to regulations.
  • Measure depths of water, using depth-measuring equipment.
  • Direct or coordinate crew members or workers performing activities such as loading or unloading cargo, steering vessels, operating engines, or operating, maintaining, or repairing ship equipment.
  • Monitor the loading or discharging of cargo or passengers.
  • Calculate sightings of land, using electronic sounding devices and following contour lines on charts.
  • Signal passing vessels, using whistles, flashing lights, flags, or radios.
  • Maintain boats or equipment on board, such as engines, winches, navigational systems, fire extinguishers, or life preservers.
  • Signal crew members or deckhands to rig tow lines, open or close gates or ramps, or pull guard chains across entries.
  • Read gauges to verify sufficient levels of hydraulic fluid, air pressure, or oxygen.
  • Maintain records of daily activities, personnel reports, ship positions and movements, ports of call, weather and sea conditions, pollution control efforts, or cargo or passenger status.
  • Arrange for ships to be fueled, restocked with supplies, or repaired.
  • Assign watches or living quarters to crew members.
  • Purchase supplies or equipment.
  • Tow and maneuver barges or signal tugboats to tow barges to destinations.
  • Perform various marine duties, such as checking for oil spills or other pollutants around ports or harbors or patrolling beaches.
  • Collect fares from customers or signal ferryboat helpers to collect fares.
  • Sort logs, form log booms, or salvage lost logs.
  • Resolve questions or problems with customs officials.
  • Interview and hire crew members.
  • Dock or undock vessels, sometimes maneuvering through narrow spaces, such as locks.
  • Adjust navigation according to weather conditions.
  • Conduct safety drills with crew.
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