Difference between a Chief Mate and a Second Captain

[QUOTE=thetruth;84152]There is no such thing as a chief mate with limited tonnage license, and I believe the whole 2nd captain originated back when the oilfield boats were not required to have captains at all they had operators. Which left you with a first operator and second operator, which has translated over to 1st captain and 2nd captain with the change in licenses over the years.

I do know that when I was overseas customs would not accept an official crew list with two crew members onboard listed as Master and Captain.[/QUOTE]

I believe “operators” is a term that means the person who is directly controlling the boat and, like the driver of a car, is responsible only when actually at the controls.

If you have two operators, the ultimate responsibility would depend upon who was at the controls at the time of an incident. Much different then a captain who is responsible regardless of who is at the controls.

K.C.

[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;84180]I believe “operators” is a term that means the person who is directly controlling the boat and, like the driver of a car, is responsible only when actually at the controls.

If you have two operators, the ultimate responsibility would depend upon who was at the controls at the time of an incident. Much different then a captain who is responsible regardless of who is at the controls.[/QUOTE]

This a rather interesting discussion. Throughout the USC and CFRs are legal instruments which clearly delegate a “master’s” responsibilities and nowhere that I have ever seen where those responsibilities can be legally shared although I could see where two men would each be the “master” for a 12 hour period yet it would need to be signed and countersigned in an official log and that the opposite cannot fulfill the role of another crewmember during the time not as master. This is how ferries often operate in a given day but I am not sure if the man “off” is onboard at the time? If he was onboard, he’d have to be considered as a person in addition to the crew.

Obviously, this is not how they do it in the GoM (especially in Fourchon). You can give the controls over the your designated “mate” to do the Fourchon shuffle while you are asleep but what will the USCG say if he prangs somebody else? Has this happened where the USCG was thrown the book at a master who was not on the bridge at the time of the incident or is the USCG onboard with the OMSA companies with how they operate OSVs?

it is also worthy to note that on very few vessels other than uninspected vessels (fishing & towing), small passenger vessels or OSVs is the master a watchkeeper himself. Usually the vessel must be under 1000grt or on a 400mile or shorter voyage. The intent is always that the master has no set work hours since he is technically always on the job. I ran a 1591grt 231’ subchapter U survey vessel and I was required to have three watchkeeping mates but because it was under 1600grt the COI did not say specifically that one was a “chief mate” per se. I had one designated in the logbook but as far as I know there was no legal requirement for me to. I also had times with multiple qualified masters all sailing as mates but they were called mate and worked as a watchkeeping mate. The size of a boat but operated like a ship. Will we someday have 7500grt offshore vessels operated with a boat’s manning structure? I honestly believe that is what OMSA will push for!

You can give the controls over the your designated “mate” to do the Fourchon shuffle while you are asleep but what will the USCG say if he prangs somebody else?

They go after the guy driving the boat at the time of the incident as long as the “Master” didn’t give a standing order to always run the boat full throttle or something ridiculous like that. I’m sure if that was the case then both are in trouble for one issuing said order and then being dumb enough to follow it. In every incident I have heard of this has been the case as long as the guy off watch had nothing to do with what happened.

You might want to check the USCG Investigations website. In almost every case, whether the Master is on the bridge or not, he or she is the one that gets hammered worse than the guy on watch.

If you’re talking about deep sea vessels yes, but not OSV’s where both officers usually have the same license and for the most part the same responsibility. A lot of it depends on the investigator I’m sure, but I’ve seen it once and heard about it a dozen times. Boat is in an incident, Investigators come on board start asking question, ask the Master where were you at the time on said incident. If the Master was asleep he’s excused. Granted these all involved crew boats and those are class T vessels, so maybe things change when it’s a class L. But the COI on those boats calls for one master, one mate, and two deck hands.

A lot of how an Investigator goes about his investigation is based on how the company wrote it’s SMS manual. Every OSV company has in it that when maneuvering around docks the officer on watch is allowed to do so with out the master being involved. As long as SOP is being followed and barring a stupid standing order form the Master, the guy on watch is the one who has to stand in front of the firing line.

I’m sure this is done like this because like C. Captain pointed out on ships with four officers the three junior officers hold watches and the captain floats and is expected to be up when important operations are occurring. So when something goes down the Master is in the hot seat because he was involved or supposed to be involved with what was going on at the time. With OSV’s only having two officers each with their own 12 hour watch, this is impossible, so the scope of the investigation is changed to who was on watch at the time of the incident.

If you look at the vessels involved in incidents you will see I’m sure that most of them are tugs, which as other posters have pointed out have the master involved when ever a serious maneuver is being accomplished, and thus more likely for an incident to occur. Next would be deep sea ships or crew boats. Every month a crew boat seems to hit something at high speed, and Deep Sea vessels work as pointed out above.

I don’t know if it’s just luck, but I would like to think it’s skill, but how often do we even hear of an OSV involved with a serious incident while maneuvering while not on DP? Very rarely, so naturally their numbers in the investigation website are low. The only thing I ever seem to hear about of note are mud and fuel spills at the dock from an Engineer messing up.

I agree that the <200 ton vessels are investigated along those lines and that the investigator has a little leeway in dealing with those incidents. However, as the osv’s get larger and larger I believe there is no leeway in the investigation and that is why I wrote what I wrote.

While we don’t deal with c/m, 2m and such at this point, I believe we will end up having those designations or something similar on the >200 ton vessels before too much longer. People need to be ready for that change instead of discussing 1st and 2nd captains. I believe that is part of the reason ECO structured the last raises the way they did.

Interesting to note if you’re a second captain then when you get a seatime letter from an OSV company it says mate so the companies know what is legal yet keep this falsehood going in the GoM rather than to correct it. I am sorry to say but I think it is all a way to blow smoke at the mariners to artificially pump them up which the OMSA companies love to do. The whole thing now is decades old and entrenched in the GoM OSV way of operating that is is all pervasive and obviously here to stay.

[QUOTE=c.captain;84297]Interesting to note if you’re a second captain then when you get a seatime letter from an OSV company it says mate so the companies know what is legal yet keep this falsehood going in the GoM rather than to correct it. I am sorry to say but I think it is all a way to blow smoke at the mariners to artificially pump them up which the OMSA companies love to do. The whole thing now is decades old and entrenched in the GoM OSV way of operating that is is all pervasive and obviously here to stay.[/QUOTE]

A lot of things in the OSV fleet are not in line with “standard” maritime vessel operations. You can see some of that in the posts in this thread. There is talk of being on “tour” (incorrectly spelled “tower”) instead of on “watch”-and that is terminology directly from the drilling side of things. I don’t know how many times I get statements, or revlew logs when I am working a claim that state thinks like, upstairs, downstairs, left side, bathroom, kitchen, floor, wall, etc. As a grammar Nazi in general, this stuff just drives me crazy. I really think that the entire mind set is different in the OSV fleet. Not better or worse, mind you; just different. As you state, the proof in the position is what is written on the discharge (if they still issue those), nothing else. Can a “Second Captain” get time sailing on his license as a Captain, or not?

[QUOTE=cmakin;84307]Can a “Second Captain” get time sailing on his license as a Captain, or not?[/QUOTE]

Only during such time that he is relieving a “first captain” during his time at home and as a result is that he is the master of the vessel otherwise, he is just a mate.

[QUOTE=cmakin;84307]I don’t know how many times I get statements, or review logs when I am working a claim that state things like, upstairs, downstairs, left side, bathroom, kitchen, floor, wall, etc. As a grammar Nazi in general, this stuff just drives me crazy. I really think that the entire mind set is different in the OSV fleet. Not better or worse, mind you; just different. [/QUOTE]

As a former log Nazi, son of a librarian, and student of the blatantly obvious, I feel your pain. I even corrected a couple of typos in your post.

[QUOTE=c.captain;84309]Only during such time that he is relieving a “first captain” during his time at home and as a result is that he is the master of the vessel otherwise, he is just a mate.[/QUOTE]

My feelings exactly and how I tried to behave when I was fulfilling that position.

Want to have some fun? Start addressing the 2nd captain as Mr. Mate or chief mate and the 3rd captain as mate.
I did this for a bit some time ago after explaining I thought it would help eliminate confusion.
:slight_smile:

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[QUOTE=BMCSRetired;84312]My feelings exactly and how I tried to behave when I was fulfilling that position.[/QUOTE]

Kinda why I am glad that my sailing career didn’t drift over to the oil patch. I am afraid that I wouldn’t have been very popular. . . .Not like I am now, for that matter.

[QUOTE=cmakin;84321]Kinda why I am glad that my sailing career didn’t drift over to the oil patch. I am afraid that I wouldn’t have been very popular. . . .Not like I am now, for that matter.[/QUOTE]

:smiley:

They’d chase me off in a New York second - Cripes, this is the Merchant Marine?
The hell it is, it’s Oil Patch and Brown Water, the new shoe for KP.

They’d chase me off in a New York second - Cripes, this is the Merchant Marine?
The hell it is, it’s Oil Patch and Brown Water, the new shoe for KP.[/QUOTE]

I withdraw my first post, I had no idea.

K.C.

I’ve always enjoyed calling the Chief Mate “1st Mate” then watching them get all blustery about being “Chief”

[QUOTE=KPEngineer;84328]I’ve always enjoyed calling the Chief Mate “1st Mate” then watching them get all blustery about being “Chief”[/QUOTE]

Doggone it. Where did my “Thanks” button go . . . . . . Just don’t call them “boat drivers”. Sheesh. Some folks have NO sense of humor. . . . .

[QUOTE=KPEngineer;84328]I’ve always enjoyed calling the Chief Mate “1st Mate” then watching them get all blustery about being “Chief”[/QUOTE]

When I say “Chief” I’m talking about the Chief Engineer, as far as I’'m concerned he’s the only chief aboard. The Chief Steward is the “Steward” and the Chief mate is often simply “the mate”, although in context that could mean either the mate on watch or the C/M

I don’t recall hearing the term first mate very often. The “first” is the 1 A/E.

K.C.

Man you guys are way off. Nine times out of ten the master is addressed as captain and every other deck officer is called by there first name. You people are putting way to much into this. It sounds like a bunch of egotistical guys worried about titles.

[QUOTE=tengineer;84315]Want to have some fun? Start addressing the 2nd captain as Mr. Mate or chief mate and the 3rd captain as mate.
I did this for a bit some time ago after explaining I thought it would help eliminate confusion.
:)[/QUOTE]

Or you can play like Captain Picard and call people #1, #2 and #3. I’m sure they have nicknames for me too.