Ordinary Seaman

An Ordinary Seaman (OS) is a key entry-level position on a maritime vessel. Serving as the backbone of the ship’s labor force, an Ordinary Seaman performs a variety of fundamental duties that ensure the smooth operation and maintenance of the ship. The role is pivotal in making safety and operational processes onboard efficient and effective. An Ordinary Seaman ordinarily works under the supervision of the Able Seaman and officers, providing essential support across various departments.

Key Responsibilities and Tasks

The Ordinary Seaman is tasked with a variety of responsibilities crucial to the daily operations and long-term maintenance of the vessel. Key duties include:

  • Maintenance of the ship’s deck, including cleaning, painting, and performing rust removal to ensure the vessel is kept in good condition.
  • Assisting in the loading and unloading of cargo, ensuring the secure and safe handling of materials.
  • Participating in lookout duties during navigation to assist the deck watch officer in ensuring the ship’s safe passage.
  • Handling mooring lines during berthing and unberthing operations.
  • Supporting emergency procedures and participating in safety drills to uphold the ship's safety standards.
  • Assisting with general vessel operations, such as making and breaking tow, and securing the ship for sea.

Education and Certification Requirements

To qualify for the position of an Ordinary Seaman, candidates must at least meet the following educational and certification standards:

  • Completion of a basic training course approved by a recognized maritime authority, covering personal survival techniques, fire prevention and firefighting, elementary first aid, and personal safety and social responsibilities.
  • Possession of a valid Seafarer's Identification and Record Book (SIRB) or seaman’s book as per international maritime regulations.
  • A Transport Worker’s Identification Credential (TWIC) may be required depending on the country and operational territory.
  • Physical fitness is crucial, and candidates often need to pass a medical examination to ensure they can endure the physical demands of the job.
  • No formal academic requirements are mandatory, but a high school diploma or equivalent is generally favored by employers.

With a career path that is highly demanding yet equally rewarding, the role of an Ordinary Seaman offers foundational maritime experience and opens the door for advancement opportunities in the seafaring hierarchy. It provides a unique opportunity to explore the world while being part of a collaborative and essential industry workforce.

Ordinary Seaman salaries in 2024

How much can Ordinary Seaman make? It depends on their location and experience. Below you can find an average salary in the US and UK to have an idea.

🇺🇸 $49,719

In the United States, Ordinary Seamans make $49,719 per year on average.
The range is $31,313-$68,125 based on seniority and location of the individual.

🇬🇧 £29,938

In the United Kingdom, Ordinary Seamans make £29,938 per year on average.
The range is £28,519-£31,421 based on seniority and location of the individual.

Salary information for Ordinary Seaman is not available.

The information above has been collected in 2024 from various online sources.
The information above has been collected in 2024 from various online sources.
The information above has been collected in 2024 from various online sources.

Free Job Description Template

Create Your Own

Welcome to [Company Name]

At [Company Name], we pride ourselves on leading the maritime industry with over [X] years of excellent service. Based in [Location], our fleet navigates global routes, ensuring safety, efficiency, and environmental sensitivity. Join us to become part of a dynamic team that values professionalism and dedication, enhancing maritime transportation and logistics.

Job Description

We are looking for a motivated and vigilant Ordinary Seaman to join our crew. As an integral part of our operations, you'll contribute to managing deck operations and ensuring the safety and upkeep of our vessel. This role requires commitment, agility, and a profound respect for maritime regulations and practices.


  • Perform general maintenance, repair, sanitation and upkeep of material, equipment, and areas in the deck department.
  • Handle cargo operations including securing and unsecuring cargo and assisting during cargo loading and unloading.
  • Stand watch as helmsman and lookout, under the guidance of the officer on duty.
  • Operate deck machinery such as the windlass or winches while mooring or unmooring, and during anchor handling.
  • Participate in emergency operations including firefighting and lifesaving.
  • Assist in the operation of lifeboats and rafts during drills and actual emergencies.


  • High school diploma or equivalent.
  • Valid Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) including Ordinary Seaman endorsement.
  • STCW certification and a valid TWIC card.
  • Physical fitness with the ability to lift heavy objects and work under adverse weather conditions.
  • Basic knowledge of seamanship and maritime operations.
  • Ability to communicate effectively in English.

Perks and Salary

As part of [Company Name], you'll gain the opportunity to work in an exciting and supportive environment. We offer a competitive salary package starting at [Insert Salary], comprehensive health benefits, paid leave, and career advancement opportunities. Additionally, you'll be working with a team that supports your personal and professional growth.

How to Apply

If you're ready to set sail with [Company Name], please send your resume and a cover letter to [Insert Email or Application Link]. We're eager to welcome you aboard and look forward to your application. Make sure to apply by [Application Deadline].

Interview Questions for Ordinary Seamans

Create Your Own

Can you describe your experience and certifications related to working as an Ordinary Seaman?

This question helps the interviewer understand the candidate's foundational knowledge and practical skills in maritime operations. Experience and certifications are critical in ensuring that the candidate meets safety and regulatory requirements specific to maritime roles.

How do you perform routine checks and maintenance on deck equipment?

Asking about specific operational tasks such as maintenance of deck equipment assesses the candidate’s hands-on skills and attention to detail. Routine checks are vital for ensuring the safety and functionality of the ship's equipment.

In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of teamwork on board a ship?

This question is aimed at understanding the candidate’s perspective on collaboration and their ability to work effectively with other crew members under often challenging conditions. Teamwork is essential for the smooth operation of all onboard activities.

Describe a challenging situation you've faced on board and how you handled it.

Problem-solving skills are crucial at sea, where issues can arise unexpectedly and require immediate resolution. This question allows the candidate to demonstrate their capacity to effectively navigate difficult situations.

How do you adapt to long periods away from home while at sea?

Adaptability is key in the maritime industry due to the unique and often demanding lifestyle it entails. This question gives insight into how the candidate manages the personal and psychological challenges of life at sea.

Can you provide an example of a time when you introduced a new approach or innovation on board?

This question evaluates the candidate’s ability to bring new ideas or improvements to the ship's operations. Innovation can lead to enhanced safety, efficiency, and overall crew morale.

What attracts you to our company, and how do you see yourself fitting into our culture?

Finding a good fit between the candidate and the company’s culture is essential for long-term employment. This question helps to determine if the candidate's values and goals align with the organization.

Where do you see your career in the maritime industry in the next five years?

This question helps gauge the candidate’s ambition and commitment to their maritime career. It also provides insight into their aspirations and potential for professional growth within the industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Ordinary Seaman in the Maritime Industry?

An Ordinary Seaman (OS) is an entry-level position in the deck department of a merchant ship. This role involves performing general maintenance, watch duties, and other tasks under the supervision of a deck officer or a more experienced seafarer.

What are the typical responsibilities of an Ordinary Seaman?

Responsibilities of an Ordinary Seaman include but are not limited to:

  • Performing regular maintenance and cleaning tasks on the deck.
  • Assisting in mooring and unmooring operations.
  • Standing watch, either as a lookout or helmsman under officer supervision.
  • Handling cargo operations including loading, unloading, securing, and other related tasks.
  • Ensuring compliance with safety procedures.

What qualifications are required to become an Ordinary Seaman?

To become an Ordinary Seaman, the following are typically required:

  • Minimum age of 18 years.
  • A basic safety training certificate which complies with the STCW (Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) Convention.
  • A valid Seafarer's Identification and Record Book (SIRB).
  • Physical fitness and medical certificates as per maritime standards.
  • Passing a drug and alcohol screening.

How can one start a career as an Ordinary Seaman?

To start a career as an Ordinary Seaman, aspiring candidates should:

  • Obtain the necessary certifications and documentation as mentioned above.
  • Seek entry-level positions through cargo companies, cruise lines, or maritime recruitment agencies.
  • Consider gaining experience through maritime training academies or by joining as a deck cadet.

What is the career progression for an Ordinary Seaman?

From the position of an Ordinary Seaman, one can progress to higher roles such as Able Seaman, Bosun, and eventually to officer levels such as Third Mate/Direct Officer. Each advancing step typically requires additional training, certifications, and experience.

What type of vessels can an Ordinary Seaman work on?

Ordinary Seamen can find employment on various types of vessels including:

  • Bulk carriers
  • Container ships
  • Oil and gas tankers
  • Cruise ships
  • Ferries or tugboats

Is experience in the Maritime industry required for the position of Ordinary Seaman?

Prior experience is not necessarily required to begin as an Ordinary Seaman; however, any practical exposure to maritime operations can be beneficial. Entry-level training programs or maritime apprenticeships are also excellent ways to gain relevant experience.

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