Pecking order?

Can anyone post the pecking order of rank which USCG has? Ie. captain #1, 1st mate #2- chief mate, 3rd mate , AB , oiler, ect ect… Seems easy but I get confused


Pecking order doesn’t have anything directly to do with USCG per se. It has to do with the COI of the vessel and who the company puts in a position. Are you just wanting a list of ranks, unlimited or limited? I think I can help with unlimited more or less if you like.

Deck: Master, Chief Mate, 2nd Mate, 3rd Mate, AB, OS
Engineroom: Chief Engineer, 1st assistant, 2nd assistant, 3rd assistant, QMED/Oiler, OS Wiper

If you need more I guess post again.

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I would put the pecking order as more like Master, 1st Mate, then 2nd and 3rd together. The 3rd doesn’t work for the 2nd, he works for the Mate. Same for the Unlicensed, They all work for the bosun who works for the Chief Mate. That is of course for day work, the pecking order for a watch is a little different.

For Engineers its basically Chief then 1st then everyone else.

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Or, look at the station bill.

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Cool. Thanks but was also wondering alittle about really what tests seem to be the hardest to take to achieve top brass, amongst them all. I know an unlimited master seems pretty dominate but how does it go down from there?
I mean some times the friggen galley cook is the most important, you burn my steaks and…

Here is the pecking order for pay scale on my ship
1 Master
2 Chief Engineer
3 First Engineer/ Chief Mate
4 Second Engineer/ Second Mate
5 Third Engineer/ Third mate
6. Pumpman/ Bosun/ Qmed/ Steward
7 AB
8 Cook
9 OS
10 SA

Now at the end of the day with OT, the 1st AE makes the most money, with the Chief mate coming on close second.

And yes to me as a First Engineer can tell you that the I try to make sure the galley has everything they need. Especially when I have a good Steward and cook


Although the seafarers (Able or Ordinary) answer to the Boatswain, they all work for the C/M.
By the way, the Boatswain is just an appointed position; generally for the most experienced Able Seafarer

Now for a different aspect. Who, and how is a ‘senior captain’ designated? Strictly seniority? Peer recognition? Combination of both? Any formal process for this? Or does the most senior guy just adopt the mantle?

At the company I work for, it’s strictly time aboard that particular vessel.

The boat I’m on now is 2 years old, we’ve had 5 captains so far.
The 3rd one is still here, so he is “Senior Captain”.

That’s not the type I was thinking about. The Captain of the Titanic was the ‘Senior Captain’ of the White Star line. At my company a captain has started to refer to himself as ’ senior captain’. I assume it is for the whole fleet. There are other captains who have been at the company longer than him, but apparently he only counts seniority since crossing the picketline in '88. Just wondering if there are any nautical historians who have heard of this. I know that some vessels who typically are uneven time who have one captain who steps up when the senior captain goes home and some vessels run with a senior captain as you describe. Just wondering about fleet/company wide use of the term.

Hey all, giving this a bump rather than starting a new thread.

I’ve been told several times that the Chief engineer would the the second in command, say if the master was incapacitated or died while at sea the C/E would have the command authority. He’s certainly the next in line on the pay scale, that’s for sure.

While this doesn’t really matter much, I’m still curious because several people across different boats have said this. I can’t find anything in our SMS or company policies. Is there actual legal guidance on the chain of command in the event the master dies? I figure if something like that happens at sea the company would just appoint someone to acting captain till arriving in port.

In our case we work on tugs, so only six or seven guys aboard.

Thanks everyone.

See the definition of “chief mate” in 46 CFR 10.107:

Chief mate means the deck officer next in rank to the master and upon whom the command of the vessel will fall in the event of incapacity of the master.


When I sailed as CE, I always assumed the Mate was the next in “command” for the deck department. In fact, with a few “captains” I sailed with the Mate was really the one running the deck/cargo, etc. I can say that regarding pay scales, when I worked for Crowley, I was easily the highest paid on the boat with all of the overtime. . . and I didn’t mind the extra work, what being a punk kid and full of energy and all. . . and it helped pay my bar bill and those, uh, other expenses, too. . . .


As a C/E I’ve never been under any false impressions that I would be in charge if the master became incapacitated. A few times in my career I’ve ran across a few C/E’s who claimed to be second in command but honestly I didn’t think too much of those guys or their professional abilities before they proclaimed to be in charge of the chief mates. Almost all the good chiefs I’ve worked around only concerned themselves with engine room responsibilities & only strayed from the path when ordered to by the captain, company or circumstance.


It is incredible that any C/Eng would think that he or she is “second in command.” As Cavo pointed out, the chain of command is perfectly clear and defined by law. Why on Earth would any engineer think he is in line to take charge of navigation? Bizarre stuff that probably started with mud boats or some other form of swamp dwelling operation.,


Don’t go pinning that shit on us. We are not the root of everything twisted.

Every engineer I have ever worked with was happy to stay in the basement.


Who ever told you that was pulling your chain.

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Some chiefs see themselves as the capt’s contemporary, and in a way they are. However I really doubt most chief engineers would think in an emergency situation that they would assume control of navigation over the mate. We’ve all met and worked with lots of engineers that are completely oblivious to geographical awareness.


If you reverse the question it sounds ridiculous: who’s in charge of the ER if something happens to Chief? Can you imagine the Captain doing the valve clearances on a genny, oily hands and sweating? Its frightening to imagine. I want the guy in charge of navigation and overall vessel safety to have clean hands and air conditioning.


Exactly. . . I wouldn’t didn’t want to be involved with cargo operations other than starting and stopping generators for the cargo pumps, repair of pumps and deck equipment (that the *$%^ mates would screw up). . .