As an island
nation, we depend on the sea for 95% of our trade and for
A career at sea
in the Merchant Navy, or the fishing industry is both
challenging and rewarding, and can lead to a wide range
of other careers in the maritime sector ashore.
Merchant Navy Careers Handbook
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Cadet, P&O Nedlloyd Kobe
is me ...
Gary is currently berthed on the P&O Nedlloyd
Kobe shown here.
is Gary Smith.
I'm 22, live in Southampton, and I'm a
deck cadet with P&O Nedlloyd.
I first thought about earning my living at sea shortly
after I left college at the age of 18. Prior to that I
didn't really know what I wanted to do as a career.
At school, the careers advisers were saying 'you have to
pick a career option soon otherwise you'll be stuck in a
dead-end job, shoveling dung for the rest of your life'.
As much as I tried to pretend that that wasn't true, I
knew that they were right. I remember when my mum and dad
used to say 'you won't believe me son, but when you leave
school, you'll wish you were back'.
How right they were! But now I've got used to having to
think for myself, I actually enjoy my job here. Seafaring
is a proud profession and I am proud to be a part of it.
The job may not be as glamorous as being an airline pilot
or a high flying stockbroker, but people are intrigued
and they always ask questions about it.
I joined because I want to see as much of this beautiful
planet as I can before I die. I haven't even finished my
training and already I've seen things that some people
will never see: sailing past the Statue of Liberty in New
York; cruising under the Golden Gate Bridge; humpback
whales courting in the Bering Sea; waterspouts dancing
together in the South China Sea; the list goes on.
I also enjoy the feeling of total solitude I get when we
are in the middle of the Pacific, thousands of miles from civilization. The ship is in effect, a small close-nit
community. We have two bars and mess rooms, games room,
TV room and a plunging pool. We also make our own
entertainment: quiz nights, lotteries, bingo, deck golf,
barbecue parties etc..
As a cadet in the deck department, my working day can be
very different from the last, or be completely the same
as the last.
Deck cadets are in actual fact deck dogsbodies! That
isn't meant in a derogatory way; for we have to learn the
job of the sailor before we learn the job of the deck
This is to give us credibility when we ask the sailors
to, say, put an eye into a mooring wire or to paint the
ship. I would look quite the fool if I couldn't
demonstrate the task to a sailor who wasn't sure or
passed a splice as safe only to see it pull out under
Many of the skills we learn and use have been developed
over hundreds of years. The standard 3-strand rope has
been used for centuries, as has the splices and knots
associated with it.
Even on the navigation side we must still be confidently
able to deduce the ship's position using only the
heavenly bodies and a sextant. This was the same
technique that enabled Captain Bligh to navigate his
small boat over 3500 miles to Dutch Indonesia when he was
set adrift from HMS Bounty.
Another aspect of this job I enjoy is knowing that as the
officer of the watch, I will have full responsibility for
a piece of machinery weighing as much as 120,000 tonnes.
I enjoy making those split second decisions that are
I would be one of the first to admit that this life isn't
for everyone. Spending months away at a time, separation
from family and loved ones, and the solitude, has driven
many people to leave.
But for me the rewards more than outweigh the price. What
could be better than going to exotic, far flung places,
going ashore and having a good time there whilst getting
paid for it!?
It can be hard work and sometimes it can be lonely. But
as with everything, it's only as good or as bad as you
To work at sea is to be a true professional and I would
recommend it to anyone who is up to the challenge.
P&O Nedlloyd Kobe
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