Most Navy officers have limited exposure to their civilian counterparts or life on board merchant vessels, although a small portion attended a maritime academy at the state or federal level. Most could benefit from some insight on dry-cargo merchant ships in commercial trade. (My only “tanker time” was as division officer on the USS Sacramento [AOE-1].)
Manning. Cargo ships have three departments: deck, engine and steward. Deck Department comprises one master, one chief mate (C/M), one second mate (2/M), one or two third mates (3/Ms), a bosun, and five able-bodied seamen (ABs). Bridge watch consists of one watch mate with an AB. Watch rotation is four hours on and eight hours off. Collateral duties are handled off watch. The bosun and some ABs are day workers but may shift to watches depending on company rules and contracts.