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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Deck Crew, Water Transport (7532)

Workers in this unit group stand watch, operate and maintain deck equipment and perform other deck and bridge duties aboard ships or self-propelled vessels under the direction of deck officers. They are employed by marine transportation companies and federal government departments including the armed forces.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read lists of chores posted on the wall. (1)
  • Read memos from supervisors explaining new regulations or procedures to apply them to work situations. (2)
  • Read circulars relating to safe bridge keeping and operating practices to understand how to prevent accidents and resolve unsafe practices. (2)
  • Read instructions for handling lifeboats to become familiar with terminology and procedures. (2)
  • Read fuelling and safety procedures. (2)
  • Read the Captain's Standing Orders which are posted in book format. (2)
  • Read instruction manuals on rope work and how to tie various kinds of knots. (3)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Identify flags, such as the Bravo flag which means that explosives are being unloaded. (1)
  • Read duty roster forms to learn who is available if extra work is required. (1)
  • Read lists of ship's stores when taking inventory and read shipping lists of goods to be delivered to lighthouses. (1)
  • May complete loading forms to indicate the number of cars, walkers, motorcycles and bicycles on a ferry. (1)
  • May enter information in a Fire Hose Pressurization check chart. (1)
  • Read Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) labels on paint cans. (2)
  • Read schedules indicating times and destinations of sailings. (2)
  • May read Global Positioning System (GPS) screens to determine position and real speed. (2)
  • Interpret diagrams illustrating how to use safety gear. (2)
  • Refer to plans of the ship's layout to locate firefighting stations and the location of life boats. (2)
  • Record information in the ship's log every two hours. (2)
  • Complete pay forms and reimbursement forms for buying new boots. (2)
  • Read radar screens to observe on-coming sea traffic and to establish the distance from points of land. (3)
  • Read current tables and navigational charts to determine the direction and speed of currents and to plan the course and estimated time of arrival. (3)
  • Read assembly and schematic drawings in equipment manuals in order to maintain and repair equipment. (3)
  • Use meteorological tables at the front of the logbook which describe the amount of cloud coverage and the types of clouds, and enter information in the ship's log every two hours. (3)
  • Read the tide tables in the Tide Calendar Book in order to judge how high to adjust the ramp when tying up at the dock. (3)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Record wind direction, wind speed, visibility, cloud type and brief narrative entries in the log book every two hours. (1)
  • May record tasks performed in the Chore Book. (1)
  • May write out receipts for ferry passengers who request them. (1)
  • Complete time sheets and overtime forms. (1)
  • Write notes to themselves regarding supplies to be brought on board ship. (1)
  • May write a weather report for the bridge in a combination of words and numbers. (1)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Measure the depth of the water using lead lines. (1)
  • Measure new docking lines to ensure they are the appropriate lengths. (1)
  • Make calculations using a time, speed and distance formula. For example, if the distance between two markers is 10 nautical miles and the distance is covered in 30 minutes, speed of the vessel is 20 knots. (2)
Data Analysis Math
  • Compare readings from gauges showing changes in levels in ballast tanks in order to discern possible leakage. (1)
Numerical Estimation
  • May estimate whether a 24-foot motor home will fit on the car deck by pacing off a space. (1)
  • Estimate how much paint is required to paint the hull of the ship. (2)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • May listen to a two-way radio to hear instructions from the captain or mate about how many cars to put on a ferry. (1)
  • Call instructions to another deck crew member to indicate whether to speed up or slow down the winch to bring up a line. (1)
  • Interact with other crew as Officer of the Watch, repeating all commands three times to ensure clarity and confirmation. (1)
  • Communicate with ship's captain and mate to receive orders about steering and loading and to ascertain when to let go lines. (1)
  • May interact with members of the public when loading and unloading. (1)
  • May communicate with the stores keeper on the ship to obtain paint or other supplies. (1)
  • May communicate with the ship's engineer to clarify the work of the tug. (2)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • May find that a vehicle gets stuck on the ramp and cannot board the ferry deck. They put boards under the wheels to improve traction. (1)
  • May have a towing line break while towing a scow. They get another line in position quickly or pull alongside the scow and tie alongside. (1)
  • May find that the gangway has been set up incorrectly, causing too much of a sway. They inspect the gangway, checking that ropes are not frayed and that connections are properly established. They make the necessary adjustments to ensure safety. (2)
  • May not know what type of rope or splice to use for a specific task. They ask other crew members for advice or check manuals. (2)
Decision Making
  • Decide when the wharf is close enough for the line to be thrown ashore. (1)
  • Decide whether lines are tied too tight, given changes in the tides. (2)
  • Decide when pieces of rope need to be respliced. (2)
  • Decide what parts of the ship should be painted. (2)
  • Decide when a rigging is safe for hauling in supplies. (2)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Deck crew (water transport) follow set routines under the direction of a commanding officer. They carry out a variety of repetitive tasks such as repairing equipment, loading or unloading the ship, scraping and painting the decks and steering the ship. They have little flexibility in ordering their duties. Their tasks are often integrated with those of other crew members and are often closely supervised. Planning is short term and generally confined to the shift which is underway. Work is organized around the ship's schedule, with some duties taking place at sea and others when the ship is docked. Changes in deck crew's activities may be required to take into account sudden changes in weather. A storm at sea, for instance, will require dropping other responsibilities to rig safety lines on the deck. (2)

Significant Use of Memory
  • May remember details of how towing lines were attached to a barge.
  • Remember how certain types of loads were rigged in the past.
  • Remember the flash signals of various beacons.
  • Remember the procedures and task sequencing of fire and life boat drills.
Finding Information
  • Locate information in tide and current tables. (1)
  • Refer to the Ship's Daily Orders for scheduling information. (1)
  • Consult other crew members to get advice on the repair and maintenance of equipment. (2)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • They may type up memos and faxes. (2)
  • They may send messages by e-mail. (2)
  • Use other computer applications such as the Global Positioning System (GPS). These are used to check their position and to access computerized tide tables and weather reports. (2)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Deck crew (water transport) work primarily as members of the ship's company which functions as a team. Many decisions are made as a group. Deck crew, under the leadership of the boatswain, meet at the beginning of every shift to be allocated responsibilities. Teamwork is particularly important given that the ship may be at sea for weeks at a time and that all crew members contribute to the safety and comfort of the ship.

Deck crew may work with partners on specific functions such as loading cars, painting decks and handling lines. They work independently at times, such as when they make Jacob's ladders and repair cargo nets.

Continuous Learning

Deck crew (water transport) continue to learn on the job and to update their skills and knowledge through a variety of courses. These include the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), Standard First Aid, Marine Emergency Duty (MED), and watch keeping courses. They may also take specialized courses such as the Able Seaman course given by marine training institutes. Some deck crew obtain forklift tickets.

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