JC010: Mud volcanoes and submarine canyons


Meet....the ship's Second and Third officers

Darcy is the ship’s Second Officer, and Nick is the ship’s Third Officer. They both share responsibilities for the safety and handling of the ship with the Master (the captain) and First Officer, but have individual responsibilities too. They have each come to their careers through slightly different routes, and have different ideas of where their careers might lead them.

Their roles on the ship:
The 2nd officer is responsible for the charts and passage plan. He is the navigation officer and medical officer. 
The 3rd officer is responsible for life-saving appliances, fire-fighting equipment, lifeboats and muster lists.

All officers take responsibility for the ship for 8 hours each day. They are the Master’s representative on the bridge. When on watch, they are responsible for the handling of the ship and all safety on board.

So, how did they get here?

Both Nick and Darcy have GCSEs. Nick then went on to complete a National Diploma course in Public Services. Darcy started his training when he was 16. As neither completed A-levels, they went on to complete a cadetship, studying at college for 3-3½  years, and also gaining a years experience at sea during that time. After these 3 years or so, an exam was completed with the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency). When they passed, they became an officer of the watch, a junior officer.

All students are sponsored by a company. The company must pay the course fees and provide ships for the cadets to work on during their cadetship. They also get to choose which college you go to. Nick went to the Warsash Maritime Academy (near Southampton), and Darcy went to Fleetwood College (near Blackpool). Nick is currently working at sea so that he can go back to college to get his first officer’s ticket. This is the qualification that allows you to become a first officer.

Darcy has his first officer’s ticket. To get the first officer’s ticket, you must go back to college for between 4 months and a year, depending on which qualifications you got when becoming a junior officer.  A further 18months must then be spent at sea before someone can study for their captain/master’s qualification.

Darcy has now been at sea for 7 years, but this is Nick’s first year away.  Both say that the best thing about it is seeing the world and meeting interesting people. Nick works for an agency, so does not spend all his time with the same ship; he says that he love’s the sea and that he gets to travel around a lot more than some other officers, because he can pick and choose his jobs according to where he wants to go.

Darcy says that the holiday time is good as you end up with about 6months off each year. He works for two scientific cruises, and then has leave from the next two. This means that he doesn’t get to pick and choose when he takes his holiday time, but he does get to enjoy a few weeks at a time away from work.

The part of the job that they say is not so good is the time away from home. It can be anything from a couple of weeks, to a few months to possibly a year, depending on what kind of ship you’re on and where it’s going. As he works for an agency, Nick gets to pick where he goes and how long he’s away for, but for Darcy, the research cruises are not usually longer than a couple of months (this cruise is 8 weeks in length). 

If you are interested by what you have read here, you can get more information about these careers by looking at the following websites:

The Marine Society http://www.ms-sc.org/
The Merchant Navy Training Board http://www.mntb.org.uk/
The Royal Navy http://www.royal-navy.mod.uk/

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