2273 Deck officers, water transport

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Lead statement

Deck officers, water transport, operate and command ships or self-propelled vessels to transport passengers and cargo on oceans and coastal and inland waters, and supervise and co-ordinate the activities of deck crews. This unit group also includes Canadian Coast Guard deck officers. They are employed by marine transportation companies and federal government departments.

Example Titles

  • Coast Guard vessel navigation officer
  • deck officer – water transport
  • ship's captain
  • master mariner
  • ship second mate
  • ship third mate
  • Coast Guard vessel first watchkeeping officer
  • tugboat captain
  • ship pilot
  • Coast Guard vessel watchkeeping officer
  • ferryboat master
  • ship's mate

Main duties

Deck officers perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Command and operate ships or other self-propelled vessels, such as barges or oil rigs, to transport passengers and cargo
  • Command and operate coast guard vessels to provide ice-breaking and search and rescue services, and to maintain control over ships operating in Canadian waters
  • Board vessels at berth or from pilot boats to advise ships' captains on the course to steer for safe passage into and out of ports, seaways or other waterways under pilotage authority
  • Plan and execute safe navigational passage using navigational aids
  • Determine geographical position using navigational instruments, maps and charts
  • Guide vessels in rivers, canals, and other confined or hazardous waters and waterways
  • Maintain vessels' navigational instruments and equipment
  • Direct and oversee the loading and unloading of cargo
  • Supervise and co-ordinate the activities of deck crews
  • Record vessel progress, crew activities, weather and sea conditions in the ship's log.

Employment requirements

  • Completion of secondary school is required.
  • Completion of deck officer cadet program from an approved nautical institute or One to three years of experience as a member of a deck crew is required.
  • A deck officer certificate of competency, issued by Transport Canada, is required.
  • For ship pilots, a ship pilot licence and a master certificate of competency are required.

Additional information

  • Transport Canada administers a deck officer certification program, consisting of several levels. Progression from one level of certification to the next requires additional experience, training and testing.
  • Mobility between employers is possible for positions requiring the same level of certification.
  • Progression to management positions in transportation is possible with experience.


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