Job Descriptions

Sometimes referred to as “master” in some ads. The
captain has ultimate responsibility for the vessel and authority over
officers and crew. The tugboat is a multi-million dollar asset that
can be manned by over a dozen crew members on larger vessels.
The captain is responsible for lives of her crew and the safe and
economical operation of the vessel. The qualifications sought by a
tugboat company may vary according to the size of its fleet. A captain
is expected to possess managerial and leadership skills in addition
to competence in navigation, seamanship and towing operations.
We aren’t going to list every possible combination of tonnage and
endorsement that appears out there.

However, these are the USCG license qualifications generally

▪ 100 Ton Master
▪ 200 Ton Master  
▪ 500 Ton Master  
▪ 1600 Ton Master  
Other requirements may include towing endorsements, ocean
endorsements, GMDSS and STCW 95.

Mate The mate directly reports to the captain. Depending on the
vessel, the mate handles or oversees vessel navigation, vessel
docking operations, ship assist operations, ship and barge towing
operations, deck crew operations and command of the vessel
where directed by the master. These are the USCG qualifications
generally sought for mate positions:

▪ 100 Ton Mate
▪ 200 Ton Mate  
▪ 500 Ton Mate  
▪ 1600 Ton Mate  

Other requirements may include towing endorsements, ocean
endorsements, GMDSS and STCW 95.

Able Bodied Seaman, or Able Seaman The able seaman, or AB,
carries out job assignments given out by the captain or mate. This
includes ship assist or barge towing operations. May require STCW

Deckhand The deckhand carries out job assignments given out by
the captain or mate. This includes ship assist or barge towing
operations. May require STCW 95.

Chief Engineer The chief engineer, or chief, is in charge of the
operation and maintenance of a tugboat’s main engines, loading of
fuel and cargo, auxiliary machinery and engineering crew. In
addition to the main engineers, the chief engineer is responsible for
diesel polishing systems, fuel service and transfer systems,
generator sets, electrical distribution system, hydraulic systems,
compressed air systems, sanitation systems, service water,
heating and air conditioning plant, watermaking unit and other
auxiliaries. However, these are the USCG license qualifications
generally sought:

▪ Chief Engineer Limited
▪ Chief Engineer Unlimited

Designated Duty Engineer The designated duty engineer reports to
the chief and assists in the operation of engines, auxiliaries and
other ship systems. However, these are the USCG license
qualifications generally sought:

▪ Designated Duty Engineer

Job descriptions are continued in the white box to the right. Contact
information for the USCG REC's (Regional Examination Centers)
appears below:

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Towing and transportation
companies have openings for
port engineers and
dispatchers from time to time.

Port Engineer This is a
shoreside position. The port
engineer is responsible for
the maintenance of the
tugboat fleet. He or she is
expected to carry out
necessary diagnostic, trouble
shooting, and preventive
maintenance measures to
ensure proper operation and
longevity of a tugboat’s most
expensive mechanical asset,
its machinery. The ideal
candidates are usually
experienced diesel
mechanics with marine
watchstanding experience.
Some tug fleets will seek
candidates who have
obtained factory certification
for a particular powertrain,
such as Caterpillars, General
Motors or EMD’s. In addition
to marine diesel engines, the
more a port engineer knows
about ship systems, the better
he or she will be at carrying
out the job. This includes ship’
s electrical systems,
sanitation systems,
compressed air, firefighting
and other auxiliaries. Basic
computer skills will enhance
abilities with spare parts
inventory, carrying out
preventive maintenance
timetable, maintaining oil
analysis results, and
searching for trouble shooting
resources on-line. Basic
mathematical skills are
necessary in reading
decimals and taking

Dispatcher This is a
shoreside position. The
dispatcher is responsible for
assigning tugboats to jobs.
The dispatcher needs to
understand the logistics of
vessels traveling to and from
a job, understands which tugs
and crews are best suited for
which jobs, and current
weather and tide conditions
for the waters in which the
tugs operate. A dispatcher
understands the strengths
and limitations of all the boats
in the fleets, including their
horsepower, crew experience,
enhanced maneuvering

Eastern Alaska
800 E. Dimond Blvd., Suite 3-227
Anchorage, Alaska 99515
Phone: (907) 271-6736

Western Alaska
2760 Sherwood Lane, Suite 2A
Phone: (907) 463-2458

Southern California - Arizona, Nevada, Utah
California Center
501 W.Ocean Blvd., Suite 6200
Long Beach, CA 90802
Phone: (562) 495-1480

Northern California
California Center
Oakland Federal Bldg., North Tower
1301 Clay Street, Room 180N
Oakland, CA 94612-5200
Phone: (510) 637-1124

433 Ala Moana Blvd.
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813-4909
Phone: (808) 522-8264

Chesapeke Area - Maryland, Delaware, Virginia Area
Maryland Center
U.S. Customs House
40 South Gay Street
Baltimore, MD 21202-4022
Phone: (410) 962-5132

New England Area - Massachusetts, Rhode Island
New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine Area
Massachusetts Center
455 Commercial Street
Boston, MA 02109-1045
Phone: (617) 223-3040

Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin Area
Missouri Center
1222 Spruce Street, Suite 8.104E
St. Louis, MO 63103-2835
Phone: (314) 539-3091
Tri-State Area - New Jersey, New York City, Long Island,
Connecticut, Pennsylvania Area
New York Center
Battery Park Building
1 South Street
New York, NY 10004-1466
Phone: (212) 668-7492

West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Michigan Area
Ohio Center
420 Madison Ave., Suite 700
Toledo, OH 43604
Phone: (419) 418-6010

Oregon, Idaho, Nevada Area
6767 N. Basin Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97217-3992
Phone: (503) 240-9346

Mid-Atlantic Area
Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina Area
South Carolina Center
196 Tradd Street
Charleston, South Carolina 29401-1899
Phone: (843) 720-3250

Inland of Mid-Atlantic - Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee
Tennessee Center
200 Jefferson Ave., Suite 1302
Memphis, Tennessee 38103
Phone: (901) 544-3297

Texas Center
8876 Gulf Freeway, Suite 200
Houston, TX 77017-6595
Phone: (713) 948-3350

Idaho, Washington Area
Washington Center
915 Second Ave., Room 194
Seattle, WA 98174-1067
Phone: (206) 220-7327
job descriptions
More Job Descriptions...

Tankerman The tankerman
carries out cargo loading and
discharging operations, spill
response, and duties
associated with tank entry.

QMED QMED, or qualified
member of the engine
department, carries out tasks
assigned by the chief or DDE
in the engine department.

Other requirements may
include STCW 95.

Cook, Chief Cook The cook
prepares food for the crew
and arranges for purchasing
of ship’s food stores

Steward, Chief Steward
Depending on the vessel, the
cook may be identified as

Trainee Entry level position
for working one’s way up
towards qualified deckhand

Prior to
a cargo
pumproom, you should ensure
that _____________ .

the cargo pumps are secured

b. a suitable gas mask is

d. the oily water separator is

d. the forced ventilating system is
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Trivia: What is a  tractor tug ?
Are you good at using a
vernier caliper like the one
shown above? Do you
know how to use a
micrometer or dial
indicator? Are you good
with decimals and machine
shop measurements? Do
you have enough
experience to oversee the
work of diesel mechanics,
welders and other outside
contract services? Those
are just some of the skills
needed to be a good Port
Engineer. Read more about
the position below.
Copyright Information
Joaquim Alves Gaspar
Do you know how to use one of these? Can you perform basic arithmetic functions such as
converting fractions of inches to decimals? Read more below...