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Deck cadet

You’ll go all over the ship as you learn to navigate, load and unload cargo, handle legal and commercial affairs and oversee crew operations

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What you can expect on your stay

Usually on four-hour shifts, you’ll handle physical tasks such as chipping rust off metalwork, and bridge / cargo watch keeping, which involves monitoring equipment and looking out for other vessels. You’ll also shadow more senior crew and help monitor pump operations, maintain equipment and more. In time, you’ll learn to plan the ship’s passage and learn all about anchoring, docking and cargo operations.

Three months on, three months off sounded fantastic, as did the starting wage for officers. I liked the idea of travelling whilst working and I have always loved being on the water.Jess Huxley,deck cadet

Learning and development

Phase 1

You'll spend the first phase on land, at nautical college, learning all about chart work, tides and sailings, meteorology, cargo work, ship construction, celestial navigation, electronic navigation, bridge watch keeping and more.

Phase 2

You'll then spend time at sea getting practical, hands-on experience.

Phase 3

After that, it's back to dry land for some classroom-based learning. We’ll teach you about marine law and management, cargo contracts and port operations, and handling incidents.

Phase 4

For the next stage of training, you'll need your sea legs again. You'll go back onto one of bp's ships to embed your academic knowledge, where you'll be given more responsibility.

Phase 5

The final stage involves one more phase of college, followed by academic and oral exams.


After training, you’ll have a UK foundation degree or college diploma in marine operations, a seafarer’s licence and deck watch keeping officer ‘certificate of competency’ from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

After attending a nautical school from 11-16 my mind was set on what career I wanted. I have learnt many invaluable life skills being a cadet.Steffan Wilkinson,deck cadet

Cadet stories


Elisa decided to pursue a career in shipping after being part of the University Royal Naval Unit whilst studying at university

I decided to pursue a career in shipping after being part of the University Royal Naval Unit whilst studying at university. After spending some time at sea on summer and Easter deployments, I decided to explore different career options working at sea.

 Read Elisa's story


Ellio hails from a family of seafarers.  He heard a lot of their stories and wanted to see it for himself

From a very young age, I have been immersed in marine life. Many of my family are seafarers, so prior to starting my cadetship I had been on a variety of vessels. I had also heard a lot of their stories and wanted to see for myself. It also seemed like a great career with clear progression.

Read Ellio's story


Steffan completed his studies completed at South Tyneside College. Now he is a fully qualified 3rd officer

All my studies were completed at South Tyneside College. The FD was split into 5 phases: 3 land phases and 2 sea time phases. Throughout the time spent at South Tyneside college as a deck officer, we learnt how to navigate using the stars as well as modern techniques such as GPS. We also studied other subjects such as ship construction and marine law in depth too. Throughout my 2 sea phases which totalled 19 months, I spent 13 of them at sea on different types of tankers. Here I understudied officers gaining hands-on experience in cargo operations and how to safely navigate a vessel. Throughout my sea time, I was fortunate enough to travel to all areas of the world except for the polar regions and South America. Upon completion of sea time and the FD, I sat an orals exam with a Maritime and Coast Guard agency surveyor. My hard work paid off and I passed first time. Now I am a fully qualified 3rd officer able to maintain my own watch.


Would I get my own cabin or have to share? What about showering facilities?
In all bp ships you will have your own cabin that is ensuite, so you can be assured you will have total privacy, should you need it.
The salary is £35,000 per annum after qualification, and tax free. How does that work?
bp cadets, after successfully completing their studies, that are hired on board our ships can expect a salary starting at £35,000 tax free once they are employed. Because you are working in international waters, and not on UK land your earnings are not subject to UK taxation, therefore you do not pay any tax on your earnings!
Is there good wifi? I’ll need to keep in touch with friends and family.
All of our ships have wifi on board. Of course the strength of that wifi will depend on where you are in the world and what ship you are on, but every day you will have allotted time with internet access to help you stay in touch with your loved ones, as well as dedicated telephone times.
I don’t see myself as a very academic type. How much support is there during the degree?
At your college you will have a dedicated tutor to help you with any problems or areas for development you are not able to address in class, where you are taught by experts in their field with real experience of doing what they will teach you. You will also be studying alongside other bp cadets with access to study groups to help you gear up for life on board.
Supposing there’s a family emergency when I’m on board and I need to get home?
Unfortunately there won’t be a way for you to get off the vessel once it’s at sea unless it’s due to dock somewhere. We’ll do our very best to be supportive if you’re going through a difficult time, but please bear this in mind before you apply.
It’s mostly men on board. What if a woman needs to see a female doctor?
We want you to feel safe and comfortable and when possible, and requested by a female employee, a female doctor will be provided if a shore based medical review or telemedicine is required onboard. It is important to note however if emergency treatment is required the employee will be allocated a doctor regardless of gender in order to preserve life as a first priority.
I might be the only woman on the vessel. Will it be safe?
As far as possible and operational constraints permitting,  we try to have two female officers on onboard at any time. Having said that, bp also has strong values – one of which is respect – and we find that everyone on board treats everyone with respect and like family. bp also has a strong diversity and inclusion culture and if anyone feels worried or intimidated, we take it very seriously. There are procedures in place to protect you and multiple ways to address any concerns whilst onboard, so don’t think twice about speaking to the cadet performance and development officer, who will be responsible for you from bp’s perspective. Your safety is more important than anything.