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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

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.

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). You’ll also be ready to apply for a permanent post as a deck officer on one of our ships. 

Search and apply

Applications are currently closed for our Cadets programme.

Cadet stories

Iona joined BP in 2015, and had a gift for engineering when she was young



I’ve always loved to pick apart different objects, to understand their mechanisms. When I was younger I picked apart alarm clocks, wrist watches and household appliances, such as a washing machine.In this field there’s a lot of legislation, particularly health & safety, which we need to be aware of during our practical work. We also learn about mechanics and electrical engineering. We have workshops where we take apart and learn about different types of machinery that we could see on-board the ship. The most exciting work has been the 2,000-hour maintenance of a generator, probably because I was very involved in it. We had to take off the fuel injectors and test them to make sure they were firing at the correct pressure. It was a very thorough process and with many different aspects that we had to consider. At BP, they look after you very well. They take everything into account – our wellbeing, comfort and accommodation. If anyone needs anything they take it really seriously – even the small things. Whether it has to do with college accommodation or hotel residence, they look after us no matter what.


Katie’s nearing the end of her training programme and has been everywhere from Rotterdam to Chile


So far, I’ve got to visit Houston, Beaumont, New York, Long Beach, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Singapore, Korea and Panama - we went around Cape Horn and through the Panama Canal which was fantastic! My first stint at sea was really exciting, but also quite daunting. The size of the ship was surprising as it’s hard to visualise quite how huge it’s going to be – it was 330m long, that’s three rugby pitches end to end and one of the biggest in our fleet.I enjoyed my time so much I ended up extending an extra two months, so was on the ship for five months in total. There are so many facilities on-board; cinema, TV room, gym, table tennis, basketball, pool and so on. Our cabins are a good size too, with our own bathroom.I’d say I have a lot of determination to succeed and that’s important. I found the exams quite challenging and you also have down days now and again at sea – when the weather is awful, for example – but you just have to push on through! If you’re driven to achieve goals, confident and able to get on with a range of people, then this is a great opportunity.


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.