I was reviewing some accounts of enclosed space accidents, part of some assigned training. One of the stories involved a man who’s ship-board rank was “Serang.” I never heard that term before. I guess it means boatswain? Or maybe it means something slightly different because it seems to come from South Asian maritime tradition, which I don’t know very much about. Are bosun and serang completely interchangeable, or are they different? When is one term preferable to the other?

I recently read a book about the British “mercantile navy” in WW2. Back then the “British” unlicensed crews were mixed between Europeans, mainly from the UK, and men from what is now India/Pakistan. The latter were put down on the crew list as lascar (common seaman); serang (roughly approximate to bosun); or tindal (quartermaster). All Malay/Hindustani terms.

In Malaysia and Singapore the term Serang is also used for the skipper of small boat, like fishing boats, sampans, tongkans, bumboats etc.:

That’s interesting, if you think of the actual history of the title bosun it sounds pretty much synonymous with serang.

According to ombugge’s dictionary link:

Origin and Etymology of serang
Persian sarhang commander, boatswain, from sar chief + hang authority

Are lascar and tindal still current titles?

[QUOTE=Emrobu;191957]According to ombugge’s dictionary link:
Are lascar and tindal still current titles?[/QUOTE]
Not in S.E.Asia, but maybe on the Indian sub-continent.