Crew Positions on Superyachts
Numbers and positions of crew will vary depending on the vessel and its requirements. There must always be a general chain of command, each and every role is essential for a smooth operation and it will be how the individuals work together as a team that will determine how well yachts perform.
- First Officer / Chief Mate
- Second Officer / Mate
- Chief Engineer
- 2nd or 3rd Engineer
- AV Engineer
- Lead Deckhand
- Chief Steward(ess)
- Junior / 2nd or 3rd Steward(ess)
Depending on the vessel, there’s a high possibility of dual positions and is not limited to the Interior Department (E.g. Deck-Stew, 2nd Eng-Dekhand, Stew-Purser, etc) Other roles under the Interior are Head of Interior, Head of Housekeeping, and Laundry Service.
- Head Chef
- Sous Chef/Crew cook/Stew-Cook
The Captain of any yacht has one primary duty, which is the overall safe manning and operation of the yacht. Taking ultimate responsibility for the vessel, the crew, the tender and toys, and the guests. Yacht Captains hold responsibilities in various areas such as personnel management, shipyard/project management, legal and regulatory compliance, accounting, achieving owners objectives, and generally answers to the owner with regard to all decisions.
A captain must have an overall excellent knowledge of the operations of the yacht and each department. This role requires you to have excellent nautical knowledge, maintenance, engineering, and technical practice, superior leadership, communication, as well as administrative duties such as accounting, paperwork and IT.
Each department falls under the command of the Captain.
First Officer / Second Officer
The First Officer or Chief Mate is the right hand man of the Captain. The roles are very similar, but specific duties vary on different yachts. Some of the responsibilities include the safe manning of the yacht, overseeing and managing all crew operations and maintenance, and a list of administrative and safety duties on board. Also, regularly takes bridge watches and often be responsible for the majority of the yachts passage planning and navigation.
The First Officer / Chief Officer must be able to stand in for the Captain in his absence, therefore this role requires you to have an excellent knowledge and understanding of the entire yacht, and it’s operations.
The Second Officer acts as an aid and understudy, assisting the First Officer and familiarizing with all operations.
Chief Engineer / 2nd or 3rd Engineer
The Chief Engineer is responsible for the Engineering Department, and more importantly, for all technical aspects and its equipment to run smoothly. Chief Engineers must have advanced knowledge of engineering on board, expert technical and troubleshooting experience, and able to prevent malfunctions and multitask.
The Chief Engineers day-to-day work is to maintain all aspects of mechanical and electrical operations, ensuring all planned maintenance takes place, and is in charge of the majority of service and repair work, liaising with subcontractors and shore based Engineers ensuring all relevant operations are up and running, and up to standard.
The 2nd or 3rd Engineers are directly responsible to the Chief Engineer, assisting and maintaining mechanical and electrical operations.
The entire Engineering department is responsible for anything and everything that could break and need to be fixed, from the main engines to smaller pieces of equipment such as jet skis, televisions, etc. Being able to troubleshoot and repair almost everything in the yacht is essential. As well as, being able to transition between engine room work and interacting with guests, if needed.
ETOs / AV Engineer / Electrician
Depending on the size of the yacht, they may hire separate individuals for each position, or one that can fulfill all responsibilities.
Generally, the ETO will have knowledge in handling AV/IT skills. The main responsibilities are daily maintenance of all electronic, computer, audio/visual and communications equipment to ensure it is running efficiently. The larger the yacht, the more likely systems will be numerous such as radio, radar, telephones, satellite communications, navigation systems, computers, interior equipment (TV and DVDs) etc. The ETO is also in charge of ensuring all planned maintenance work takes place and liaises with shore based technicians.
Electrician’s role is very similar, however the systems he/she would be responsible for include all electrical circuits on board, circuit breakers and switches, lighting, batteries, etc.
Bosun / Lead Deckhand
The Bosun is likely to be an experienced deckhand who is able to take on extra responsibilities. They are in charge of the Deckhands, deck operations, and likely to spend a great deal of time with guests and owners when on board, therefore a positive attitude, a keen eye for detail and service are paramount.
The Bosun is normally the main tender driver, he/she will have to know inside and out how all tenders and toys operate. Normally, will oversee activity on the passarelle, and serve in a security role ensuring guests are embarking and disembarking safely. This position requires you to be well versed in operating various vehicles, equipment and mechanized devices.
Some of their responsibilities include the general maintenance of the exterior of the yacht, as well as tenders and toys, often undertakes bridge watches when at sea, painting, varnishing, storage, deck supplies, equipment and must have basic engineering abilities.
Lead Deckhand / Deckhand
Deckhands encompass a large array of duties and responsibilities, having to assist in the maintenance, cleanliness, and maneuvering of the boat and tenders. The role is very similar to the Bosun, being held responsible for the maintenance of the exterior of the yacht, and keeping it in pristine condition at all times. Some of the responsibilities as a deckhand include cleanliness and maintenance of the yacht such as wash downs, painting, varnishing, fibreglass restoration, polishing, finishing, carpentry, sanding, etc. On occasion, they may assist with helping the interior and galley department.
Chief Steward(ess) / Steward(ess)
A purser tends to be found on larger yachts; where no purser is required, the Chief Stewardess assumes some of these responsibilities. It is a highly administrative position and requires a strong background in all areas from service to administration and crew management. The purser is responsible for all operations in the interior department, which include inventory, purchasing and provisioning, accounting, organizing guest activities, working closely with guests and crew, and assisting the Captain with the yachts paperwork.
It is essential that a Purser has had experience as a Chief Stewardess, as a lot of their responsibilities are very similar. He/she must be well versed in financial and computer skills, communication, organization and delegation abilities, as well as excellent knowledge of service and housekeeping skills. It is also very likely that a Purser will be responsible for recruiting new members for the department when necessary.
The Chief Steward(ess) role has similar responsibilities as a steward(ess), but on a more senior level, taking on extra responsibilities, training and managing the interior department. It requires you to have an excellent attention to detail, anticipate guests wants and needs, and to deliver exceptional services in a luxury 7-star manner.
The Chief Steward(ess) and Steward(ess) main responsibilities include food, drink, and bar service, silver service, overseeing the cleaning and polishing of accommodation, cabin preparation, flower arranging, obtaining local currency, arranging trips, transport, and general yacht operations.
The entire interior department are primarily focused on the comfort of the owner and guests.
Head Chef / Sous Chef / Crew Cook
Along with the Interior department, the Head Chef is an extremely important role as the owner and guests will always remember the food they had, regardless of the size of the yacht. The Head Chef is in responsible for the galley.
Chefs working on a Superyacht will usually have previous experience working at a hotel, restaurant, resort or cruise line. They must hold health standard certifications, have a vast knowledge of produce, diets, allergies, food safety and storage, and the ability to provision to a budget in different parts of the world. Special menus and varied dietary requests aren’t uncommon, so you must be able to create inventive and balanced menus with scarce supplies.
It is very challenging as Head Chefs will have to plan all meals and anticipate other culinary requests. They are in charge of planning meals, maintaining an inventory of all galley equipment and food, as well as galley safety and sanitation standards, purchasing ingredients, preparing food and final presentation, and ensuring that the galley is kept in pristine condition.
Sous Chefs are found in larger yachts, who work alongside the Head Chef, bearing all responsibility and assisting the Head Chef when necessary, as well as cooking for the crew. In some cases, the Sous Chef takes on a dual position as a crew cook, or a “Stew-Cook” where a Steward(ess) will take on the responsibility as a Steward(ess) and a cook. This is very common on smaller sized yachts, to funnel responsibilities of both a cook and steward into one.