The Role of Ship’s Captain: An Interview with Johan Schild

With more than 45 years of experience, Johan Schild has served as a Port Captain, Salvage Master, Marine Consultant, and expert witness, as well as a Deck Officer and Captain for many shipping companies. Here, Johan Schild explains the job of a ship’s captain and what it takes to become one.

Question 1: What role does the captain play in maritime transportation?

Johan Schild: The captain supervises all of the operations and the work of the officers and crew on the ship. He assumes command and ensures that all procedures are practiced safely. The captain also maintains the vessel’s logs and records. The captain oversees the loading and unloading of cargo and passengers and ensures that the machinery and equipment on the ship are in good working order. In essence, the captain holds ultimate responsibility for everything on the ship at all times.

Question 2: How does one become the captain of a ship?

Johan Schild: Generally, before becoming a captain, a person must attend a maritime academy and partake in officer training courses. The individual must have 360 days of at least four hours a day of documented time on the water over the past five years. He or she will need references and must pass a drug test and a physical exam. The candidate also must have CPR and first aid training. The person must also pass a series of exams and have notable leadership qualities. A love for the open water in addition to good vision, balance, and dexterity are also key components.

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