Maritime Workers: Life on a Tugboat

There are several different job positions that are held by the various maritime workers on a tugboat, but they all deal with many of the same difficulties. Although the size of the vessel will determine the exact size of the crew, it is common for a tugboat to employ the following positions: captain, mate, able seaman, deckhand, chief engineer, designated duty engineer, tanker man and a QMED. In addition to these positions on board the vessel, there are also shore side titles that need to be filled, including a dispatcher and a port engineer.

It would seem that there wouldn't be many injuries on a small vessel like a tugboat, however, it is the function of tugboat that makes it dangerous out at sea. The accidents that may occur on tugboats are due to the huge barges that are in tow. Not only can work on a tugboat be dangerous, it can also be fatal. Those who have been injured in this work should contact a maritime law firm for advice, because these lawyers can help seamen and their families get the financial compensation needed to reclaim their lives.
Tugboat Crew Work Duties

Each tugboat crew is given a list of responsibilities that matches up with the needs of their vessel, but the general tasks associated with each job title remain the same with every company.

1. Captain - The person who holds this position will sometimes be referred to as the master, and they will be responsible for the proper operation and safety of the multi-million dollar tugboat vessel and each of their crew members. In order to receive the title of captain, an individual must demonstrate that they are a competent navigator and leader who has experience with towing operations.

2. Mate - The mate works directly with the captain. In most vessels, they will take on a supervisory role to help ensure that the tugboat's functions are performed properly, including docking, navigation and towing. The mate is also often responsible for overseeing the deck crew.

3. Able Bodied Seaman - Often referred to as the AB, the person who holds this position will perform various tasks that are assigned to them by the captain or mate such as barge towing.

4. Deckhand - The deckhand's job description is typically the same as an able bodied seaman, but they most likely have less experience or seniority.

5. Chief Engineer - The person who fills this important role will be responsible for the maintenance and operation of the tugboat's engines. They will also be in charge of overseeing the loading of all cargo and fuel, maintaining the auxiliary machinery and supervising the engineering crew.

6. Designated Duty Engineer - This individual will report directly to the chief engineer, and they will be responsible for helping that person perform all of their daily tasks.

7. Tanker man - A tanker man responds to spills, loads cargo and performs various tank entry tasks.

8. QMED - A qualified member of the engine department, also known as a QMED, works in the engine department and performs tasks that are assigned by the chief or designated duty engineer.

Daily Life and Dangers of a Tugboat Job
Although each company sets its own specific guidelines, it is common for tugboat employees to stay on board the vessel for three weeks at a time. Fortunately, some vessels have satellite service to keep the crew members entertained, and cell phones make it easy for everyone to stay in touch with their loved ones.

Unfortunately, the life of a tugboat worker is not an easy one. In fact, maritime workers have one of the most dangerous professions in the country. Every year, 23 out of every 100,000 tugboat workers will die due to accidents involving drowning. If you have a loved one who has died while working on a tugboat, you should contact an attorney to learn if you have a viable wrongful death lawsuit.

Kelly Kovacic is a paralegal and wants to bring awareness to the life of maritime workers. Many of these jobs are very dangerous and injuries can occur on a variety of vessels; so your rights to recover compensation may be very different than other types of injury cases. For any type of maritime injury claim, contact the maritime law firm of Doyle Raizner LLP to evaluate your case and help you get back on the road to recovery.
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