A Dictionary of Occupational Terms Based on the Classification of Occupations used in the Census of Population, 1921.
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A.B., able-bodied seaman, able seaman
a seaman with three years' approved sea service and in possession of Board of Trade discharge "A," endorsed by Superintendent. Board of Trade; is qualified to perform all duties required of a competent member of a ship's crew, e.g. swabbing decks, coiling and splicing ropes, keeping look-out, painting ironwork, tanks, etc.; on small ships, often also does work of quartermaster q.v.; is under supervision of boatswain q.v.
apprentice ; cadet, midshipman
a youth who performs A.B.'s duties as part of training for officer (733) q.v.; receives navigation instruction from master (733), or from chief officer (733) q.v.
boatswain (bosun, bos'n)
is chief uncertificated petty officer on a merchant ship; has charge of and overhauls boats, sails, rigging ropes and other gear; has complete charge of deck crew (as opposed to engine-room crew), arranges their watches and duties, and is responsible to officers for proper execution of orders; takes command of ship in absence of, or on loss of, officers.
boatswain's mate
deputy to boats-swain [sic] q.v. and takes his place in emergencies, or when he is off duty; works alongside and supervises deck crew in work of cleaning deck, painting ironwork, rope splicing, etc.
boy, ship's boy
performs light unskilled duties on board ship, such as brass cleaning, rope coiling, etc.
see apprentice.
carpenter, ship's carpenter
a petty officer q.v. who repairs spars, booms, ladders, and deck gear during voyage; repairs and caulks deck; secures hatch covers, etc., records soundings of bilge compartments; on sailing ships, has also care of winches and capstans; where a ship's joiner (sea-going) q.v. is carried, performs heavier as distinct from lighter and finer repairs.
cassub, cussab
a member of Asiatic crew employed, either as lamp trimmer (on deck) or as storekeeper (737) q.v. in steward's department.
deck boy
a boy q.v. employed as a deck hand q.v.
deck hand
general term usually applied to A.B.'s and to men who, though not qualified as A.B.'s, are, owing to length of service, paid similar wages; sometimes, however, applied to all men (not officers) employed on deck; duties as for A.B.
helmsman, sailor helmsman
an A.B. q.v. performing duties appropriate to quartermaster q.v. but not rated as such.
joiner, ship's joiner
exceptional rating, found on some liners only; fits up or repairs deckhouses, ship's cabins or saloons, ship's furniture, cabinet work, skylights on upper deck, and companions; generally performs lighter, finer and more highly finished class of woodwork required about a ship, as opposed to heavier work performed by ship's carpenter q.v.; cf. ship joiner (shipyards) (474).
lamp trimmer
an A.B. seaman q.v. or junior petty officer in charge of oil lamps on board, and responsible to boatswain q.v. for keeping them in good condition; cleans, fills and trims lamps and places into position.
an Asiatic seaman, strictly speaking a native of India, as distinguished from Malays, Chinese, etc.
see sailor.
a member of Asiatic crew, serving under Lascar Agreement; under supervision of deck serang q.v. cleans, trims and fills ship's lamps.
master of hold
a non-navigating petty officer; travels with ship and supervises loading, unloading and stowing of cargo and luggage, and ventilation of holds.
see apprentice.
ordinary seaman
(i) a deck boy q.v. or other youth serving probationary period of three years (without which he cannot qualify as A.B.) and learning duties of a seaman under supervision of boatswain q.v.;
(ii) an older man who has had sea-going experience, often intermittent, but has never qualified as A.B.;
(iii) a seaman who has forfeited his Board of Trade discharge book, or who has lost it without attempting to obtain duplicate copy, hence is no longer recognised as an A.B.
petty officer
general term for leading seamen and uncertificated officers, e.g. boatswain, ship's carpenter q.v.
a petty officer q.v., subordinate to boatswain q.v., selected from A.B.'s q.v. to take charge of ship's steering wheel at sea, under instructions from officer on bridge; watches compass and keeps ship's head on course given by officer; in harbour, guards gangway giving access to ship, to prevent trespass.
a deck hand q.v. who, with others of a skeleton crew, is specially employed to take ships on short voyages, such as London to Cardiff or Antwerp; leaves vessel at port of arrival and receives agreed sum in payment for services.
sailor ; mariner
general term for any person employed on a sea-going ship, with following exceptions, (i) usually officers and pilots (733) q.v.;
(ii) usually officers and crews of tugs, barges, ferry boats, dredgers, etc.;
(iii) almost invariably skippers and crews of fishing boats; is less commonly applied to engineers (734), firemen and trimmers (736) or stewards, etc. (737) than to boatswains, quarter-masters, A.B.'s, ordinary seamen, deck hands and other ratings q.v.
an A.B. q.v. or an ordinary seaman q.v.
an Indian sailor acting as steersman or quarter-master.
serang, deck
a member of Asiatic crew, serving under Lascar Agreement; as for boatswain, but supervises Asiatic deck crew only.
tindal (deck)
a member of Asiatic crew, serving under Lascar Agreement; acts as deputy to deck serang q.v.; as for boatswain's mate, but supervises Asiatic crew only; cf. tindal (fireman) (736).
an Indian sailor who acts as sweeper or cleaner on board ship.
Trinity House seaman, Trinity House mariner
a seaman q.v. or a sailor q.v. employed on either a lightship or a vessel belonging to Trinity House (lighthouse authority for England and Wales).
performs general unskilled minor duties on board a tug-boat.

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From: A Dictionary of Occupational Terms Based on the Classification of Occupations used in the Census of Population, 1921,
Ministry of Labour, 1927. Digitised by Peter Christian, August, 2016.   This text is in the Public Domain.