A boatswain, or bosum, is a petty officer on a cargo ship in charge of the deck crew which maintains the hull, anchors, boats, and related equipment. He carries out orders for work details as issued by the chief officer (captain's assistant), directs maintenance tasks such as chipping, painting, splicing rope and wire for rigging, and handles lifeboats and canvas coverings. The boatswain is in charge of the deck crew which consists of the quartermaster who does the wheel, steers the ship, and is an able seaman. Boatswains are higher in rank than able seamen who perform general seamen's duties such as rigging cargo booms, readying gear for cargo loading, or discharging operations. They act as quartermasters under the direction of the boatswain. Boatswains are also in charge of the ordinary seamen who assist the able seamen by chipping, painting, washing down the ship, and spicing rope. Requirements of a boatswain is to have graduated from a marine school such as the U.S. Naval Academy, a U.S. Coast Guard Academy, or a Merchant Marine Academy. They must have full knowledge of navigation, cargo handling, and all deck department operations. Also they must have a merchant mariner degree to serve on a ship. After a required one year minimum period of service, an ordinary seaman may apply to the Coast Guard for a licence as an able seaman. After three years, the able seaman may secure unlimited endorsement. An able seaman can move up the ladder and become a boatswain. When he has achieved this, he will receive an average salary of $28,800 a year.

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