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THE CHIEF MATE
THE Chief Officer of an ocean steamer is officially styled the Chief Mate. Also, he is often referred to simply as the Mate. In passenger liners, transports, and the like, the term Chief Officer, finds favor. But among men of the sea, the fine old sailor title “ Chief Mate” prevails.
The Chief Mate has the most difficult, and in many ways, the most important position on a vessel. An energetic Chief Mate, who is also competent, makes his vessel a successful organization. He should possess the necessary knowledge and skill in his profession, combined with initiative, tact, and executive ability of a high order.
The position of Chief Mate is the test job of the sea. An indifferent junior officer can survive for years, but when he is appointed Chief Mate, he must either make good, and achieve promotion, or his faults and shortcomings overtake him and ruin his career. This is the hard screen through which the master mariners are sifted.
Next to Master. The Chief Mate is next in authority to the Master, and acts in his place during his absence. If the Master dies while the vessel is at sea, the Chief Mate assumes command, and is vested with all of the authority and responsibilities of that station, subject to the pleasure of the owners upon the arrival of the vessel in port.
He Reports for Duty. Upon receiving his appointment to a vessel as Chief Mate, it is the duty of that officer to report on board and present his credentials to the Master without delay. He should be ready to take up his duties at once, settling all of his private affairs before going on board.
He should carry out any special orders that the Master may give.
Vessel in the Stream. If the vessel is in the stream the new Chief Mate should note the following:
1. Locate vessel on chart.
3. How much chain out-what anchor? Is chain locked on windlass, or on riding chocks?
4. If moored, either bow or stern, inspect mooring wires; frappings; etc., see to means for slipping and hauling in.
5. Is the anchorage safe-at all times—at that season? 6. What weather-tide-current-sea, may be expected?
7. Examine windlass carefully-be certain you know how to work same at night.
8. Look to compressors-capstans—and anchor davits, if fitted.
9. Look to hand gear-that brake beams, bars, and stoppers are handy, and where located.
10. Look for fo'c'sle hose, and connection. Be ready to flush off a chain covered with mud, so there will be no delay when heaving in.
11. Look for docking telegraph-learn dial.
12. Have Deck Engineer and Carpenter inspect the windlass with you, get all the wrinkles you can about same.
13. Look for vessels near at hand. Is vessel clear of them when tide turns?
14. Is vessel loading or discharging?
16. Are cork fenders and skids ready?
17. Are heaving lines handy?
23. Is a working and life boat swung out and ready for lowering without delay?
24. If blowing, have drift lead over side, tend same, and watch bearings.
Vessel Alongside. If the vessel is alongside the new Chief Mate should note the following:
1. Look after mooring lines.
4. Are they properly disposed-springs, breasts, bow and stern lines—this is an art. Can one watchman tend them?
5. Do they all bear an equal stress—this is important with wire hawsers.
6. If near wooden warehouses--see if a wire fire warp has been led.
7. Are the gangways safe?
8. If bow or stern projects beyond bulkhead line, are lights ready?
9. If twin-screw vessel, are propeller signs in place? 10. Is a gangway watch necessary-is it being kept?
II. Is the vessel discharging or loading-what-what holds-how near completed?
12. What is the draft-forward and aft?
13. How much water under her at low tide?
15. Telephone connection on dock. Number of Police, Fire, U. S. Secret Service.
16. Locate water plugs on docks.
In General. 1. Ask for cargo diagrams-how kept-if loading.
2. Are the working holds under supervision-by whom? 3. When will vessel be discharged-or ready to leave?
4. Get reports from the junior officers—the boatswain and carpenter.
5. Will she work at night?
6. Are cargo clusters ready-length of cables-location of connections—are they in good order—where kept?
7. Are the fire lines clear and in working order?
11. Inspect crew's quarters. Look for signs of intoxicating liquors—destroy any found.
12. Are bills of lading in order?
13. Look after cargo gear-stays-masts-booms-guys -pendants-falls--whips-gins--skids--cargo slings-cargo falls-cargo hooks-nets, winches-etc.
14. Are hatch covers, strong backs, battens, tarpaulins, wedges, etc., ready and in good order?
15. Pay special attention to the flanges on the steel strongbacks—are they true?
16. Get acquainted with the engineers and establish friendly relations—this is important.
17. Locate all sounding pipes—Have carpenter sound tanks and bilges and report.
THE WORK OF THE CHIEF MATE
Having reported for duty, and having seen to the matters outlined above-and a smart Chief Mate sees such things quickly, for he must by that time have spent more than a dog watch in the Merchant Service—the new Chief Mate can intelligently carry on the work of his vessel.
Different Vessels. Differences in construction, type, tonnage, and trade, modify the size and kind of organization on board a steamer. But in the main essentials, the work of the Chief Mate should be fairly standard-he is charged with the supervision of everything that has to do with the work of the deck department.
Crew. The Chief Mate should study his junior officers and his crew. He should at once check up the crew list; see that the living quarters on board—including coal passers, firemen, and glory hole—are in a sanitary and ship shape condition. He should see after everything having to do with the sanitary condition of the vessel. Wash rooms, water closets, showers, lockers, mess rooms, etc. All should be inspected daily.
Station Bill. The Chief Mate should see that the Station Bill is properly made out, and posted as required by law.
Inventories. The materials and tools of the deck department come under the immediate charge of the Chief Mate