Deck crew career
“We are never bored. The Coast Guard is a really, really, really great institution with fabulous ships, and terrific and interesting challenges. For anyone looking for a career filled with adventure and discovery and challenge, the Coast Guard is the place to be.” –Claudio Coada, Coxswain, Quebec Region
What do deck crew do?
As a Deckhand, you are responsible for making sure the ship’s deck equipment (like small boats, winches, and cables) are safe, maintained, and ready to be used at any moment. You are also involved in a wide variety of activities related to Canadian Coast Guard initiatives, like helping with search and rescue, maintaining aids to navigation, responding to environmental problems, and helping authorities with fisheries enforcement.
Deckhands work on deck under the supervision of the Boatswain. The responsibilities of a Deckhand can vary from day to day, so no day is the same. Your duties may include:
- doing routine shipboard maintenance
- conducting fire and security rounds
- steering the vessel
- performing lookout duties
- doing general maintenance work so that the deck department is clean, safe, and operational
- repairing and painting decks
- operating cargo equipment
- anchoring, berthing, and refueling the ship
- handling mooring lines and hooking up towing lines
- retrieving and launching lifeboats and fast rescue crafts
- loading, unloading, and handling cargo and supplies
- participating in fire-fighting
As a Twinehand, you are mainly helping with fishing research by operating and maintaining fishing gear. You will be required to stand a watch as well as operate and maintain small boats. You may also be involved in a wide variety of activities related to Canadian Coast Guard initiatives, like helping with search and rescue, maintaining aids to navigation, responding to environmental problems, and helping authorities with fisheries enforcement.
As a Boatswain, you are responsible for making sure that all deck operations unfold safely and according to the Chief Officer's directions. You direct the deck crew and are in constant communication with the wheelhouse. The success of important and sometimes dangerous operations like tending buoys and loading and unloading cargo depend in great part on you and your deck crew. You also assign staff to clean the inside of the ship, ensuring the safety of the deck as well as the well-being of the crew.
As a Helmsman/woman, you act as a look-out in the wheelhouse, observing the ship's environment. You look and listen for conditions surrounding the ship that could affect its course, like shipwrecked persons, vessels, ice, and reefs. You are responsible for ensuring that the ship holds its bearing.
Your responsibilities may include:
- steering the ship according to the Navigation Officer's instructions
- reporting any objects hindering navigation or any problem with the navigation equipment
- operating small crafts (zodiac, barge)
- operating winches during cargo loading and unloading operations
- replacing the Boatswain, when required
You can move up in rank by accumulating sea time and passing Transport Canada exams. These are some of the positions available:
- Navigation Officer
- various positions within the federal public service
Income and benefits
Ships’ deck crew positions offer competitive salaries and benefits. The average income is roughly $46,000 to $54,000 a year. Salary increases with rank. Please see the collective agreement for current salary rates.
Hours of work
The hours you work will depend on the vessel and operational requirements. There are four common crewing systems:
- Conventional – 40-hour work week, Monday to Friday, 8 hours of work per day.
- Lay-day – 12-hour work day, 7 days per week. Each day worked earns an equal banked day off.
- 46.6 On-Call – 8-hour work day with 16 hours on call, 7 days per week. You earn days of rest for the exact period of time worked. Days of rest cannot be banked.
- 42-Hour Averaging system – 12-hour work day, 7 days per week. You earn days of rest for the exact period of time worked. Days of rest cannot be banked.
Most Canadian Coast Guard vessels operate on a rotational crewing system:
- 7 days on / 7 days off
- 14 days on / 14 days off
- 28 days on / 28 days off
- 42 days on / 42 days off (for vessels operating in the high Arctic)
Is this career right for me?
These qualities and interests are essential for this career:
- enjoy team work
- be in good physical condition
- have an aptitude for manual work
- display resourcefulness and initiative
- be able to work irregular schedules
- have a taste for adventure and travel
Training and education requirements
To join the Canadian Coast Guard as a member of the deck crew, you must meet all Requirements. You must then apply through jobs.gc.ca (do not apply directly to the Coast Guard).
Please note: Résumés and applications are accepted only when a recruitment poster is advertised on jobs.gc.ca. Applications are not kept on file for future recruitment selection processes.
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