Seafarers Online Registration Frequently Asked Questions

Seafarers Online Registration Frequently Asked Questions

Being a seafarer is no easy job as one has to work away from his loved ones. While the financial compensation is way off bigger than working locally, it doesn't seem to make any sense if you only see them once in a full moon.

For seafarers and soon-to-be one, I have reposted the frequently asked questions for seafarers online registration at the POEA.

A sailor, seaman, mariner, or seafarer is a person who navigates waterborne vessels or assists as a crewmember in their operation and maintenance. The term bluejacket may be used for British or US Navy enlisted sailors, the latter especially when deployed ashore as infantry. The Bluejacket's Manual is the basic handbook for United States Navy personnel. 700,000 of the world's mariners come from the Philippines, being the world's largest origin of seafarers.

Etymologically, the name "sailor" preserves the memory of the time when ships were commonly powered by sails, but it applies to the personnel of all vessels, whatever their mode of propulsion, and includes military (naval) and security (coast guard) maritime personnel and members of the merchant marine, as well as recreational sailors. The term "seaman" is frequently used in the particular sense of a sailor who is not an officer.

Seafarers hold a variety of professions and ranks, each of which carries unique responsibilities which are integral to the successful operation of an ocean-going vessel. A ship's crew can generally be divided into four main categories: the deck department, the engineering department, the steward's department, and others.

A ship's engineering department consists of the members of a ship's crew that operates and maintains the propulsion and other systems on board the vessel. Marine engineering staff also deal with the "hotel" facilities on board, notably the sewage, lighting, air conditioning and water systems. Engineering staff manage bulk fuel transfers, from a fuel-supply barge in port. When underway at sea, the second and third engineers will often be occupied with oil transfers from storage tanks, to active working tanks. Cleaning of oil purifiers is another regular task. Engineering staff are required to have training in firefighting and first aid. Additional duties include maintaining the ship's boats and performing other nautical tasks. Engineers play a key role in cargo loading/discharging gear and safety systems, though the specific cargo discharge function remains the responsibility of deck officers and deck workers.

Mariners spend extended periods at sea. Most deep-sea mariners are hired for one or more voyages that last for several months. There is no job security after that. The length of time between voyages varies by job availability and personal preference.

The rate of unionization for these workers in the United States is about 36 percent, much higher than the average for all occupations. Consequently, merchant marine officers and seamen, both veterans and beginners, are hired for voyages through union hiring halls or directly by shipping companies. Hiring halls fill jobs by the length of time the person has been registered at the hall and by their union seniority. Hiring halls typically are found in major seaports.

At sea, on larger vessels members of the deck department usually stand watch for 4 hours and are off for 8 hours, 7 days a week.

Mariners work in all weather conditions. Working in damp and cold conditions often is inevitable, although ships try to avoid severe storms while at sea. It is uncommon for modern vessels to suffer disasters such as fire, explosion, or a sinking. Yet workers face the possibility of having to abandon ship on short notice if it collides with other vessels or runs aground. Mariners also risk injury or death from falling overboard and from hazards associated with working with machinery, heavy loads, and dangerous cargo. However, modern safety management procedures, advanced emergency communications, and effective international rescue systems place modern mariners in a much safer position.

Most newer vessels are air conditioned, soundproofed from noisy machinery, and equipped with comfortable living quarters. These amenities have helped ease the sometimes difficult circumstances of long periods away from home. Also, modern communications, especially email, link modern mariners to their families. Nevertheless, some mariners dislike the long periods away from home and the confinement aboard ship. They consequently leave the profession.

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