A career as Deck crew


Testimonial

“We are never bored. The Coast Guard is a really, really, really great institution with fabulous ships, and terrific and interesting challenges. For anyone looking for a career filled with adventure and discovery and challenge, the Coast Guard is the place to be.” –Claudio Coada, Coxswain, Quebec Region

What do deck crew do?

Deck hand

As a Deckhand, you are responsible for making sure the ship’s deck equipment (like small boats, winches, and cables) are safe, maintained, and ready to be used at any moment. You are also involved in a wide variety of activities related to Canadian Coast Guard initiatives, like helping with search and rescue, maintaining aids to navigation, responding to environmental problems, and helping authorities with fisheries enforcement.

Deckhands work on deck under the supervision of the Boatswain. The responsibilities of a Deckhand can vary from day to day, so no day is the same. Your duties may include:

  • doing routine shipboard maintenance
  • conducting fire and security rounds
  • steering the vessel
  • performing lookout duties
  • doing general maintenance work so that the deck department is clean, safe, and operational
  • repairing and painting decks
  • operating cargo equipment
  • anchoring, berthing, and refueling the ship
  • handling mooring lines and hooking up towing lines
  • retrieving and launching lifeboats and fast rescue crafts
  • loading, unloading, and handling cargo and supplies
  • participating in fire-fighting

Twinehand

As a Twinehand, you are mainly helping with fishing research by operating and maintaining fishing gear. You will be required to stand a watch as well as operate and maintain small boats. You may also be involved in a wide variety of activities related to Canadian Coast Guard initiatives, like helping with search and rescue, maintaining aids to navigation, responding to environmental problems, and helping authorities with fisheries enforcement.

Boatswain

As a Boatswain, you are responsible for making sure that all deck operations unfold safely and according to the Chief Officer's directions. You direct the deck crew and are in constant communication with the wheelhouse. The success of important and sometimes dangerous operations like tending buoys and loading and unloading cargo depend in great part on you and your deck crew. You also assign staff to clean the inside of the ship, ensuring the safety of the deck as well as the well-being of the crew.

Helmsman/woman

As a Helmsman/woman, you act as a look-out in the wheelhouse, observing the ship's environment. You look and listen for conditions surrounding the ship that could affect its course, like shipwrecked persons, vessels, ice, and reefs. You are responsible for ensuring that the ship holds its bearing.

Your responsibilities may include:

  • steering the ship according to the Navigation Officer's instructions
  • reporting any objects hindering navigation or any problem with the navigation equipment
  • operating small crafts (zodiac, barge)
  • operating winches during cargo loading and unloading operations
  • replacing the Boatswain, when required

Is this career right for me?

These qualities and interests are essential for this career:

  • enjoy team work
  • be in good physical condition
  • have an aptitude for manual work
  • display resourcefulness and initiative
  • be able to work irregular schedules
  • have a taste for adventure and travel

Training and education requirements

If you are interested in becoming a deckhand on board a Canadian Coast Guard vessel, you must complete a Bridge Watch Training course at a Transport Canada approved marine school. You will also be required to write an exam at Transport Canada in order to get a Bridge Watch Certificate. Like all seagoing crew, you must meet other Requirements as well.