Merchant Seafaring Occupations

Able-Bodied Seaman  [A.B.] 
An experienced seaman who performed all regular and emergency duties required in the deck department of a ship: handled sail; stood watch; communicated information to the bridge; steered the vessel as directed by the Mate; made minor repairs to deck and deck equipment. In the merchant marine, he had to have served satisfactorily on deck as an Ordinary Seaman for four years (before 1906) and three years (after 1906) to be promoted to Able Seaman.
An individual indentured to an individual or company for a specified period in order to learn a trade. In the mercantile marine, apprentices were usually indentured for a period of 4 years, and this allowed them a faster track towards becoming an officer.
Boatswain [Bo’sun]
A skilled and experienced petty officer who supervised the seamen of the deck department. Sometimes referred to as the third or fourth mate, he was responsible for the boats, sails, rigging, anchors and cables.
A man who fed and attended cattle during the voyage.
Chief Engineer
The senior engineer officer, responsible for the working and maintenance of the machinery on board ship.
Chief Mate
A certificated member of the crew and head of the deck department. He was next in rank below the Master. The chief mate was in charge of both the crew and the cargo. He was also responsible for the safety of the captain and the crew.
Donkey Man
The individual responsible for the Donkey engine, a steam-powered winch engine, which could be used to load or unload cargo, raise larger sails, or power pumps. It was invented in 1881
Certificated officer in charge of a vessel’s engines who also made repairs and adjustments to the machinery.
A hand belonging to the engine room of a steam vessel. His duties included feeding and attending to the furnace. In coal-burning vessels, he shoveled coal into the furnace and spread it evenly so that it might burn efficiently. He also assisted in disposing with ashes overboard.
Marconi operator
A wireless radio operator. A member of the ship's staff who controlled the operation of the ship’s radio transmitting and receiving equipment. He regularly received and recorded weather and position reports, as well as handling all ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship communications. The wireless radio began appearing in vessels in the early 1900s.
The commanding officer of a merchant vessel. The master of a vessel had general charge of the ship. He had to be certificated for his position with the Board of Trade. His duties included starting the ship at the proper time and enlisting a competent crew. He managed the vessel during the voyage and navigated.
Ordinary Seamen
A seaman who was not qualified to be rated an Able Bodied [A.B.] seaman. He performed general maintenance and repair tasks on board.
Second mate
A certificated member of the deck department of a merchant ship. The Second mate was the third in command and a watchkeeping officer, the ship's navigator.
A man who stowed cargo. This was more specialist work than unloading which was done by dockers or, in the term more common in North America, longshoremen.
A member of the ship’s company who did domestic work. In a cargo vessel, the duties of the steward were mostly provisioning and catering for the officers and crew. In passenger vessels, they were responsible for the passengers and crew.
A woman who waited upon female passengers on board ship.
A person who hid on a departing vessel, for the purpose of obtaining free passage.
A man employed in the boiler room who shoveled coal from the bunker to the firing platform. He assisted the firemen in cleaning fires and in the removal of ashes from the fire room.