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Who is Who

What ranks do exist on MIR and what are their jobs


***************************************** NAVIGATION *********************************************

(Captain, Капитан)

The master is the head of any vessels. He is the "boss". he leads the vessel, decides the passage plan and the course to sail. He manages all business of the ship in accordance with the interest of the owner. He represents the owner while he is apart. 
The master does not take part in the watch system and does not go navigational watches. He is on the bridge whenever he considers this necessary or when the watch officer has asked him to come. During approaches, in narrow fairways and when the ship is under pilotage the master's place is on the bridge. On sailing vessels the master leads the sail maneuvers. The correct way to address to the master is "Captain" or Russian "Kapitán". 

Chief Mate
(Старпом = Старший поиощник капитана)

Chief Mate is the right hand of the master. He is the representative of the master in his absence and can substitute him in case of illness. Chief Mate is responsible for the entire deck's crew (this includes trainees and cadets). He decides which work is to be done to maintain the deck, hull and rigging in good condition. He reports only to the master. To him report the bosuns and partially the other officers. 
Chief Mate is also responsible for the kitchen what means that he decides the menu together with the chief cook and the doctor and together with the 5th Mate he decides about what supplies to buy for this.
Chief Mate is the head of the 4-8-watch. That means that he takes over the watch keeping duties, such as navigation, chart work, radar observation, etc., during this time. His maneuver position is the bridge where he takes over the watch keeping while the master leads the maneuver. However, he is also able to lead the maneuver and sometimes does.
Because of the great variation of duties on a ship like MIR, he may hand over some of his duties to other persons. E.g. the care for the cadets for which a second chief mate (chief trainings mate) is on board during summer. Or he shares his watch keeping on the bridge with a 4th mate to give him more time for his administrative duties.
On MIR chief mates is called by his first name from trainees and officers. The other crew and the cadets say "starpom" (Russian for chief mate).

2nd Mate
("Второй", 2 помощник капитана)

2nd Mate is head of the 0-4 watch. That means he is on the bridge from 00.00-04.00 and 12.00-16.00 h daily and takes over the watch keeping duties in this time. He is also responsible for the safety on board the ship and organizes safety trainings and safety drills for the crew and trainees. His maneuver position is the main mast where he coordinates the works. 

3rd Mate
(3 помощник капитана)

3rd Mate is head of the 8-12 watch. That means he takes over the watch keeping duties on the bridge from 08.00-12.00 and 20.00-24.00 h daily. He is also responsible for the maintenance and correction of sea charts and nautical publications and he works out the passage plan for the voyages according to the decision of the master. His maneuver position is the mizzen mast where he coordinates the works during the maneuvers.

4th Mate
(4 помощник капитана)

4th mate is an additional rank which does not exist on every voyage. 4th mate is the right hand of chief mate. This is a rank which is often given to young officers to collect experiences in watch keeping while having an experienced officer at their side. The 4th mate either goes the navigational watches (4-8-watch) together with chief mate or alone. His maneuver position is the fore mast where he coordinates the work during the maneuvers.


***************************************** OTHER OFFICERS *********************************************


5th Mate
(Хозяйнный помощник капитана)

The 5th mate is so to say the house keeper of the vessel. He/she is not a navigator, but leader of the service department. He/she is boss of the steward(esses) and the stockman. The 5th mate cares for the budget for food and other supplies. 

(Ship's surgeon, "доктор" - судов⪆й врач)

Due to the size of the crew it is necessary to employ a ship's surgeon. This is a surgeon with a special education in mending accidents and 1st aid. He has got a small surgery, hospital (2 beds) and a quarantine station. 

Radio Mate
("радист" - помощник капитана по радио електроник)

Even though since 1998 all watch officers must have GMDSS and radio certificates there is still a radio mate on MIR. While on the bridge the imminent ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communication is run, the radio mate is responsible for all radio traffic. This includes all ship's communication via satellite (Inmarsat), e.g. fax and emails and the weather fax. Additionally he maintains the ship's website and the intranet. He also runs the ship's video rental. During the summer he is assisted by 2-3 radio cadets - students of the radio technology faculty of the academy - who serve their sea practice on board.

Radio Engineer
(радио навгатор)

Is responsible for the hardware of the radio equipment.


***************************************** DECKS CREW *********************************************


chief bosun + 1 bosun for each mast)

Bosuns are very experienced able seamen who are now leading the works on deck. Each one of the are responsible for one mast, what means that during his watch all maintenance on this mast is done. They teach the cadets in seamanship and all able seaman work. During the sail maneuvers they are responsible for the execution of the commands given form the bridge and the watch officers. The bosun knows which line to work when in every maneuver and mans the lines and commands every line. He is able to perform any job on deck and in the rigging and if necessary himself takes part in these works.


The podshkiper is a chief able seaman who is responsible for the works on the hull. 


The carpenter is responsible for all wood work and teaches the cadets in this kind of work.

Sail maker

The sail maker repairs all damaged sails. He has got a small manufactory in the lower deck, but sometimes works directly on the deck or even aloft.

Able seaman (AB)

Able seamen are normally no students of the academy (though there are some cadets who have been AB before starting their studies and therefore work as AB during their sea practicum). They are sailors with a more practical education. On board MIR there are AB 1st and 2nd class (able seamen and ordinary seamen) according to the exams they have passed so far. At the end of the voyage the cadets also pass the exams to become AB, what for them however, is only one of the many exams necessary on their way to be watch officers.


***************************************** ENGINE *********************************************


Chief Engineer
("Стармех" - старший механик)

The chief of the engine department. He reports only to the master and is responsible for everything that has to do with the engine and electricity. Below him work 3 engineers, 1 electric officer, some motormen ("oilers") and the engine cadets. Normally he does not go a watch himself, but coordinates all works in his responsibility. During a sailing alarm, in narrow waters, during approaches and when the ship is under pilotage the chief engineer is in the engine control room. 

2nd Engineer, 3rd Engineer, 4th Engineer

The 2-4th engineer are head of the watches of the engine crew. Their main working place is the engine control room. They are also responsible for the entire technical environment of the ship. (More about this here).

Electronic Engineer

The electronic engineer is responsible for all electricity on board the vessel.


The "electric" must maintain all electric installations on board from the lamps in the cabins to the position lights on the mast top.


Motorman with special education.


Motormen are sailors with a practical education in the maintenance of ship engines. They are working in watches and control all instruments in the engine room, repair and maintain the engine.


***************************************** GALLEY/SERVICE   *********************************************


Chief cook

The chief cook decides the menu, plans the menu and takes part in the cooking work.


4 cooks are working in 2 shifts to prepare a hot meal every 4 hours and to bake the bread. 


The stockman is responsible for the supplies of the vessel.


On board work 4 stewardesses - one for each mess room plus one for the washing.


***************************************** SCHOOL *********************************************


Chief Trainings Mate
(Учебный помощник капитана)

The chief trainings mate is an additional chief mate who is mainly responsible for the on board for the practical education of the cadets. In most cases the chief trainings mate also takes over some of the duties of the chief mate. The chief trainings mate also takes over a navigation watch on the bridge, normally one part of the 4-8-watch in change with chief mate, but sometimes another watch to assist a new or inexperienced watch officer. 

Chief Instructor

The chief instructor is head of the teachers/instructors working on board in the theoretical education of the cadets. He is the chief teacher and coordinates lessons and time tables for the cadets, takes exams and controls the accommodations and mess rooms of the cadets.

(Instructors, руководитель практики)

As a rule there are 4 teachers on board. They teach the cadets in navigation, English language, maritime law and seamanship. Some of the teachers are professors from the academy who formerly sailed in high ranks on board all kind of vessels.


The cadets are students of the  Admiral Makarov State Maritime Academy, who serve their first sea practicum on MIR. They stay on board 4-6 months and by the end of the voyage have to pass the able seaman exams. The very most of the cadets are students of the navigation department of the academy and study to become watch officers. About 6-8 of the cadets are of the engineering department and studying to be ship engineers. 2-3 of the cadets are from the radio-technology department to become radio officers. Students from other departments can qualify for a sea practicum on MIR as well. They are sometimes during the off season on board for some weeks. The total education of the cadets lasts 5,5 years and this includes practice on various kind of vessels.

Navigation trainees, 

Navigation trainees are also cadets, but they are cadets of the last year of the education who decided to serve their last sea practicum also on the MIR. They work as officer-double and perform all watch keeping duties under the supervision of the watch officers, who remains responsible all the time. Although there are 6 places for navigation trainees on MIR at any time it is not so that there are always navigation trainees on board. As the students can decide free on which kind of vessel they want to make this practicum most of them decide to do so on commercial vessels of the kind on which they plan to work later. So these places are sometimes used for people who do not study at the Makarov Academy, but need some navigation training for other educations. 


Those are people who are in a practical education, e.g. to become able seaman.


***************************************** OTHERS *********************************************



Everybody who sails on board and is not sailing in one of the ranks mentioned above, is by definition a trainee. Those are paying voyage crew who want to experience shipboard life and learn about seamanship. If physical able and after some instructions they can take part in all routines of the decks crew.

Trainee Leader

The trainee leader is the main contact of the trainees on board. He is to liaise between the trainees and the crew. There comes the old (not used any more) term "liaison officer" from. The trainee leaders mostly do not have a nautical background and are more like administrators and animators for the trainees. While the trainee leaders formerly were always foreigners hired by the agent, this changed now. Since 2003 a Russian crew member is employed by the academy to work with the trainees on board. Sometimes he is assisted by a foreign trainee leader or trainee instructor who is on board additionally and can teach the trainees in their language.

Trainee Instructor

A trainee instructor is a voluntary trainee leader who has got some enough nautical knowledge to teach the trainees practically and/or theoretically in seamanship and/or navigation. S/he is watch leader for the trainees during their work on deck and during the sail maneuvers. The trainee instructor is an officers rank. 


Sometimes the ship has guests on board. These can be official guests of the academy, but also friends or family members of the crew.

this page was updated 10/07