By Jermaine Henry
BSc, Marine Transportation
Caribbean Maritime University, Class of 2022
It was Agnetha Fältskog who coined the quote, “My path has not been determined. I shall have more experience and pass many more milestones.” Almost any vessel, whether it is a cruise ship, an oil tanker, a military vessel, a general cargo ship, or a heavy load carrier you may find a Deck Cadet amongst her crew. On November 29, 2022, I was privileged to join the passenger ship, and the largest floating bookfair in the world, MV Logos Hope on the island of Cyprus. Walking up the crew gangway of the Logos Hope marked the beginning of my journey onboard as Deck Cadet or Officer In-Training.
Prior to joining the vessel, I had to go through a series of preparation, which included mental and physical fitness. Though life at sea can be an amazing and an enriching experience with the chance for real career opportunities and progression, it can also be hard spending time away from family and friends. It was indeed a big adventure and challenge for me, leaving Jamaica for the first time, and sailing with a multinational crew. But as time progressed, I realized how amazing and reliable my team was.
My first week onboard was spent touring the vessel, getting familiarized with the day-to-day operations of the ship, the different workspaces from deck one to deck nine, and getting to know the crew. I must say, that even after a few weeks being onboard, I still lost my way a few times. The first two months saw me chipping and painting on the outer decks as I had to start where every cadet started, and though it seemed like a simple task it was important for me to grasp the technique of preparing the different damaged surfaces of the deck, mixing paint and applying different coat of paints, which later contributed to the beauty of the vessel.
Along with my maintenance duties, I was tasked with bridge and gangway watch duties, being officer-on-duty, doing various rounds onboard the ship, assisting with preparations for departure and arrival at port, supervising the loading and unloading of cargo, as well as its storage onboard, carrying out inspections on the vessel’s safety and lifesaving equipment’s, record keeping and administrative work, learning how to maneuver the ship, how to negotiate with other vessels in terms of traffic and right of way, and how to handle the vessel under the myriad of different weather conditions that may be encountered on each voyage. Engaging in these activities contributed to me completing several tasks in my cadet training record book.
Being steadfast and diligent in doing my duties, afforded me the opportunity to be promoted onboard as Firefighting Equipment Officer during my last two months. This was a major success for me, as I was trusted by my Captain and Chief Mate with a role that many deck cadets did not get the opportunity to occupy.
After such an experience and now knowing the whole picture of this profession, l cannot see myself in another career. I am enthusiastic to be a part of the shipping industry. All this was made possible by God’s help, the American Caribbean Maritime Foundation (ACMF).
About the American Caribbean Maritime Foundation (AMCF)
The ACMF is a U.S. non-profit tax-exempt organization, and is the only entity dedicated to sponsoring academic scholarships and grants is a U.S. non-profit tax-exempt organization, and is the only entity solely dedicated to sponsoring academic scholarships and grants for aspiring CARICOM maritime professionals and seafarers. The Foundation partners with five academic institutions within the CARICOM: Caribbean Maritime University in Jamaica; LJM Maritime Academy in The Bahamas; the University of Trinidad and Tobago; MatPal Marine Institute; and the Atlantic Alliance Off-Shore Maritime Training Institute–the later two in Guayana . The AMCF has funded full tuition scholarships and grants for students from Jamaica, Guyana, The Bahamas, Barbados, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Suriname, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada.
The ACMF also hosts an annual Caribbean regionwide webinar, the Maritime Link-Up Webinar, attended by hundreds of students to promote maritime careers. Under the leadership of Rick Murrell, President and CEO of Saltchuk, the ACMF’s sea-time initiative for cadets, identifies internship opportunities on vessels to enable cadets to achieve the last bit of training necessary before they can take up permanent jobs at sea.
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