Who does what on board? – The First Officer

In our “Who does what on board” series, each month we present you one of our various jobs on board our vessels. Here we present the job of the First Officer, Tobias Kammann. On board, he is particularly responsible for cargo and safety.

Becoming a seafarer, or to be more precise: a Master, goes back to a suggestion made by a career advisor in his hometown when Kammann was 14 years old. As a child, he read dozens of novels about seafarers and collected stamps featuring ships. Today, the officer grins as he thinks back to the story with the questionnaire about career choices. Standing tall at six foot six, he is the first seafarer in his family.

For five years,Tobias Kammann worked as First Officer on one of the largest ships in the Hapag-Lloyd fleet. As “Chief Mate” he is the Masters right hand and is directly subordinate to him.

He is accountable for the deck crew, the containers on board, particularly the 233 reefers – and in charge of the trim and stability of the ship, ballast water, apprentices, deck maintenance and a lot of administrative work. He is also responsible for safety, health and, not least, garbage collection on board.
Kammann is also required to keep watch at sea, eight hours every day. He also supports the captain in maneuvering, navigating and planning.

For five years,Tobias Kammann worked as First Officer

He is still fascinated by the versatility of his job on board, and his sense of humor allows him to tackle the challenges it brings: “Where else would one be expected to suture a laceration at the drop of a hat?” Another fascinating aspect of his job are the encounters with nature, the infinite star-studded skies at night on the open seas, but also the vagaries of nature.

His first internship after graduating from school and completing his alternative civilian service gave him a chance to become acquainted with the less attractive aspects of seafaring. He sailed the North and the Baltic seas in winter on a 100-meter feeder with a seven-man crew. And although the sea spray froze on deck and they spent over a week trapped in the ice, looking back Kammann says: “I really enjoyed it.”

It was on this small vessel that the native North German later completed his training as a ship’s mechanic. “I was given a lot of responsibility at a very young age.” It was in 2005 on the “Santiago Express” with Hapag-Lloyd that Kammann first sailed beyond the ports in northern Europe and saw the world.

Meanwhile Tobias Kammann’s dream came true: Since 2016 he sails for Hapag-Lloyd as a Master.

A few facts about the training:

Someone who plans to become a chief officer and later a captain has a long period of training in front of them. First they will have to pass the medical examination to obtain a so-called “certificate of fitness for sea service.” This is followed by a year-long apprenticeship as a nautical officer’s assistant , which Hapag-Lloyd also offers. And then comes a six-semester maritime training course at a university. After a set period of experience on board as an officer of the watch (OOW), one becomes a First Officer (or chief mate) – and later a captain.

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