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Deckhand duties

Good evening

I'll be joining the AFM the first of November and would like to take the time left before I join to prepare myself ​for my duties on the ship. Normally I would go through my collision regulations, study the weather and plan the passage before we go sailing, but I understand we'll be docked all the time. What can I expect to do besides cleaning and off loading supplies? I've never worked on a vessel of her size and especially not a hospital ship. Any tips, books, YouTube videos or research I should do?

Thanks in advance



  • Hello Douw-Steyn,

    It has been many years (I think 11) since I volunteered with MercyShips, (I was 2nd officer and chief officer on the old Anastasis) but maybe I can give you a few things to think about and someone with more current experience can add on.

    Even though the ship will probably not move much while you are aboard, it is still a ship!  When you first go aboard you will probably have a fairly formal indoctrination process and this is important to pay attention to.  As a member of the deck department you will need to become very familiar with the layout of the ship and the especially the location and operation of the safety equipment.  If not initially, at some point you will probably be assigned to an emergency response team and it is very important to know your way around and to know where the safety equipment is and how to operate it.  Your day to day duties will most likely be some combination of cleaning, chipping rust/painting, maintenance of deck gear and machinery, loading/unloading equipment/machinery for the field services and generally facilitating and helping the other departments and teams to get their work done.  While in port, a big part of the deck departments work is supporting the medical and missions and other teams.  While on the ship you and the other members of the deck department will work under the leadership of the Chief Officer and there will probably be a bosun to directly supervise your work.

    It's hard to say the best way to prepare.  You want to have decent command of traditional seamanship skills such as being able to tie knots, rig lifting slings for different situations, operate winches and cranes, properly prep and apply paint....  With that said, it is likely that most of what you will feel more like general labor.  You will probably find that at least some of the other members of the deck department have been aboard the ship for quite some time and will be a great resource for learning how things work and what to do.  If you show up with a positive attitude and are willing to ask questions and learn you will be well received and before long will be helping the next new person learn their job.  As far as what to bring, be sure to pack several pairs of grubby cloths and decent work boots or at least some sturdy hikers.  Aboard most ships, a lot of the deck work is dirty (dusty, rusty, oily, greasy, paint, you get the picture) and you don't want to foul up your nicers cloths.  

    Hopefully you will enjoy your time aboard the AFM, my time aboard the Anastasis was one of the best periods of my life.  It was very cool to be able to use my skills as a seaman for God's work and the atmosphere and sense of community aboard the ship were very cool.  Not sure if this is helpful, if I told you a bunch of things you already knew don't be offended.  If you have any more or specific questions feel free to contact me.

    Best Regards,

    Blair Bouma    
  • Good morning sir!

    Thank you so much for the reply. I think I'll refresh what I learned in the STCW courses and refamiliarize myself with all the safety equipment and their purposes. I'll also try getting the basic principles of operating a crane and practice some knots with my shoelace.

    I couldn't agree more with what you said about using seaman skills for the work of God. I'm also so excited to work under and learn ​from seniors with same values as me.

    Thanks again for your advice

  • TesseLovelessTesseLoveless Talent Brand Manager Posts: 91 admin

    Hello! I'm Tesse, and I work in the Recruitment department state-side. I just wanted to say "welcome!" - we're glad you're joining Mercy Ships, and appreciate your service very much. :)


    Tesse Loveless

    General Recruiter - IOC
  • Hi Tesse

    Thanks for the welcome! I feel so privileged to be one of deckhands. Can't wait to get started.

    Take care

  • Douw-Steyn,

    Glad to help.  Your plan sounds good.  There will be
    ups and downs but I am sure you will have a great adventure. 
    I hope to serve again sometime though peeling away from work etc.
    doesn't get any easier.  Hopefully I will get the chance in
    the next couple of years.

    Take care and God Bless


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