Becoming a Boatswain

Is it an upgrade? A course? Does it appear on your Z-Card? How much seatime is required as an AB for it?<br><br>I have never sailed with a Boatswain before, therefore all I know are OS, AB, and AB Tankermen.<br><br>Thanks guys!

In the merchant marine, a bos’n (bosun, boatswain, boats, etc) is a very experienced senior AB. He or she supervises the unlicensed deck crew and reports to a mate. It is not something you take a class for. Depending on the vessel, the bos’n is determined by union seniority or chosen by a licensed officer. In the navy and coast guard they are different, but I never sailed in either so I don’t know much about how it works there.

So I guess you just need to be sailing AB for a number of years and likely get put on with a more junior crew for that appointment?

Basically, yes you’ll have to sail for a number of years if you want to work as a bos’n. But, I don’t think you’ll find many “junior” ABs sailing deep sea these days. I read somewhere that the average age of deep sea ABs is well over 60. Pretty soon they’ll be retiring, and then, if the companies can find them at all, you’ll see some pretty green ABs out there. <br><br>

Bosuns aren’t always the most senior ABs, or even “very” senior ABs. On ships with the bare minumum of 6 ABs and no OSs, a lot of ABs can’t be bothered with the extra responsibilities of being the Bosun and refuse the position. On some of the ships I worked on we rotated the ABs watches every month and we had to make the Bosun permanenetly assigned to the 4X8 to get anyone to take it.

Is there extra pay with the Bosun’s duties?

why not take the time to get a mate’s license if you’re gonna take the time to become a bosun? since it looks like you’re looking for higher pay, you might as well invest in the 3rd mate’s education. otherwise, there is no guarantee you get more pay for bosun, IF that position officially exists in the company/ship you’re working on.<br>

I just finished a B.A. degree and wasn’t too thrilled about the idea of 3 more years of school, and no guarantee of passing the rigorous exams for 3rd Mate. I figured this way I’d at least be getting paid and advancing, not PAYING to advance.

If you made it through college and if you’re motivated you’ll pass the 3m exam.

Bosn is simply a designation. Meaning, you report to the Chief Mate, get the Plan Of the Day (POD) organize the deck crew on what part of the job to do, and when. <br>Reports back to the CM at the end of the work day on what was accomplished. You are the go-between between the “Brass” and the “Swabbies”. You get a few extra dollars for being held culpable for anything the swabbies screw up. <br><br>Maintains deck tools, Deck gear inventory, Mixes paint etc.<br><br>Experience is not required, but It takes careful planning and orchestrating a project, bust out the tools, make a big mess, get it done, and get it cleaned up and tools put away exactly at quitting time. <br><br>Only through experience will you know what can be done in a day, and this also factors in what kind of crew they give you, if the weather cooperates, etc. Have a “Plan-B” if things dont pan out.<br><br>It is not a designation recognized by the Coast Guard, it does not appear on your MMD.<br>Unions have the “Bosn Certification” which means you are knowledgeable in Union policies as far as I can tell.<br><br>Most Bosns I have know are Bosns because they have had a felony in their criminal history and probably would not be approved to be an officer. Basically a “Chief Swabbie” So being a Bosn is not much to brag about. IMHO.<br><br>

Im new to this forum first so ill say hello to all members.Pertaining to this thread,Deckie2185 id be happy just to find a job period.The economy is making it tuff for entry level sailors,I know this first hand. With a flood of mariners crossing over from the co-fish industry and companies hiring foreign labor or temps thru labor companies be greatful you can even find a job .

A Boatswain’s Mate in the Navy and Coast Guard is an enlisted rating working in the Deck force. They generally supervise the unrated deck seamen and are responsible for deck maintenance, small boat operations, etc. On the Coast Guard BM’s can aspire to command of smaller cutters in the white (surface operations) and black (buoy tending) fleet.

<span style="font-size: 12pt]<font size="2] I found this in the NVIC 04-08 which is the new Medical Standards NVIC. Looks like if you someway lose your color vision you’ll be a dayworker.</font></span>
<span style="font-size: 12pt]Applicants for Able Seaman (AB) endorsement who cannot demonstrate normal color vision by passing the 14 plate, 24 plate or 38 plate Ishihara pseudoisochromatic plates tests, Farnsworth Lantern, or an alternative test approved by the NMC, but who are otherwise qualified for AB in all respects, may be issued an MMD endorsed as Boatswain. </span> <span style=“font-size: 12pt]The term “Boatswain” is defined in 46 CFR 10.103. It is a non-watchstanding, non-navigating position.</span>
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This is exactly how the 46 CFR 10.103 reads:
Boatswain means the leading seaman and immediate supervisor of unlicensed deck personnel who supervises the maintenance of deck gear.

Many years ago I found it necessary to depart the great state of Texas in a hurry. So I decided to join the Navy. The guy told me to come back after lunch so I walked out of the office with him to the bar next door and got lunch. Over lunch (liquid) he asked me what I wanted to be and I told him that I wanted to be a Test Pilot. He said that aviation was a fine profession and I would go far. I informed him that I did not mean that kind of Test Pilot I meant a Test Pilot for Unplanned Parenthood. He said “Oh you mean a Boatswain Mate.” I later learned that we were referred to as “Deck Apes, Rust Busters” and a few more terms not suitable for this form. The Navy had a book a that time that told you what civilian occupations were related to your military rating. The top occupation for a U.S. Navy Boatswain was animal trainer. The next was dock sweeper.
I received 90% of my service time as Sea Time and was issued a AB Limited when I departed the service 4 years later. Now after 26 more years of sailing (mainly on tugs) I can not recall ever seeing anyone with the endorsement for Boatswain. I did sail once in that designation as AB Unlimited on a Tanker. In the real world though it’s a thing of the past.

A Boatswain in the Navy is an officer who has reached the deck rank of Chief Warrant Officer (CWO). All others E-4 (Boatswains Mate 3rd class) thru E-9
(Master Chief Boatswains Mate) are Boatswains Mates. Being in the deck division as an E1 (seaman recruit) thru E-3 (seaman) does not make you a Boatswains Mate. You work for the Boatswains Mates. You are not a Boatswains Mate until you make 3rd class (BM3) or are designated as a Boatswainsmate striker at the
E3 level. Also, you are not a Boatswain until you are a Chief Warrant Officer and are usually assigned to large vessels; carriers, replenishment ships and large amphib ships. Smaller ships do not have Boatswains.

On MSC ships the “Bosun” is the senior AB dayworker In charge of the other AB dayworkers and the care and maintenance of the deck “stuff”. The “Boatswains Mates” are senior ABs that, along with a “Cargo Bosun” take care of the Con Rep rigs and the conduct of the UnRep activity.
Looks like the way to get “boatswain only” printed on your MMD is to be a deck officer or an AB and lose your color perception. It’s nice to know that the USCG wont automatically make you a sand crab if that were to happen, at least .
When I taught Quartermaster A School in the Navy, I ran across several students that had poor color perception - a key give-away was their comment “what magenta lines?” when were looking at Omega charts. I can remember a few of these individuals were reclassified to be Corpsman and I thought it odd that Corpsman didn’t need color perception, (pills, blood, O2 valves, blood vials, etc, etc)!
When I was joining the navy the recruiter gave me a catalog of all the Navy ratings and told me to take it home for the weekend to pick out what job I wanted. On Monday I told him I wanted to be a Boatswains Mate. He checked the job discription to see what had attracted me, and then directed me to the Quartermaster page, explaining the 'truth" about what each job entailed and that Quartermaster included a school. I still think I would have enjoyed being a Boatswains Mate, but I guess Quartermaster was the “correct” choice.

Hmmm … I think I am a little pissed off at the comments about boatswains in this thread … If you want a straight answer about being a Boatswain hit me up on facebook “GreyBrantley” I will be more than happy to fill you in :slight_smile:

Something seems to be lost here. I would LOVE to find a deckhand who was a self starter, motivated, capable of both following direction AND taking initiative to see alternate solutions to: work, problems, and repairs.

If this experienced sailor exists (and I have had only maybe 3 or 4 in my 31 yr career) I for one would LOVE to have him/her aboard. HOWEVER…

[QUOTE=cappy208;41042]Something seems to be lost here. I would LOVE to find a deckhand who was a self starter, motivated, capable of both following direction AND taking initiative to see alternate solutions to: work, problems, and repairs.

If this experienced sailor exists (and I have had only maybe 3 or 4 in my 31 yr career) I for one would LOVE to have him/her aboard. HOWEVER…[/QUOTE]

I’ve had 4 or 5 deckhands like you described within the last year. One guy is an ex-commercial diver that became my mate, another went to another vessel as a mate (but I plan on getting him back). The 3rd is approved to test now (he ran private charters on 60’ Hatteras among other high dollar vessels), and the last one needs a little more sea time before he can sit. Thing is, with all of these guys, I made it my job to facilitate people to become good hands. If not, I failed. 99% of the time, your crew is a product of the environment that you create. You do get those that never make it, but knowing that I give them my effort to make sure they’re afforded every opportunity to learn and become decent hands, I have a clear conscience and no reservations whatsoever when asking some not to return. With that said, I think I’m on pretty good footing with all of the replacements that I’ve had in the mean time.
The office likes the way I keep cranking out new mates, but I always say it wasn’t me, it was them.