Job Family: Naval and Maritime Operations Seamen
Services Offering this Occupation
 | Navy  | Coast Guard

Photo 1: Seamen stand watch. Photo 2:
Seamen operate hoists.

Short Description
All ships must have teams of individuals with “jack-of-all-trades” skills who make things run smoothly above deck. Seamen perform many duties to help operate and maintain military ships, boats, and submarines.


What They Do
Seamen in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Operate hoists, cranes, and winches to load cargo or set gangplanks
  • Operate and maintain on-deck equipment and ship rigging
  • Supervise firefighting and damage control exercises
  • Handle lines to secure vessels to docks or other ships
  • Stand watch for security, navigation, or communications
  • Supervise crews painting and maintaining decks and sides of ships

Helpful Attributes
Helpful school subjects include mathematics and shop mechanics. Helpful attributes include:
  • Ability to work closely with others
  • Interest in sailing and being at sea
  • Preference for physical work

Training Provided
Although classroom training is provided to seamen, most training occurs on the job. Training programs vary depending on service and specialty.

Work Environment
Seamen and deckhands work aboard all types of ships and submarines. On ships, they often work outdoors on deck while servicing shipboard equipment.


Civilian Counterparts
Civilian seamen work primarily for shipping companies, sometimes called the Merchant Marine. They also work for cruise ship lines. They perform many duties similar to military seamen. They are called able seamen, deckhands, or boatswains.

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