Boatswain's mates train and supervise personnel in all activities relating to marlinspike, deck, and boat seamanship, and oversee the maintenance of the ship's external structure and deck equipment. They act as petty officers in charge of small craft and may perform duties as master-at-arms, serve in or take charge of gun crews, and damage control parties.
Boatswain's mates are also responsible for the "deck side" watch. In port, three of the crew are on deck watch 24/7 (in hazardous areas such as war zones there are more than three, depending on ship's size). They are the Officer of the Deck, Boatswain's Mate of the watch, and Messenger of the Watch (usually a Seaman or Seaman Apprentice). They are stationed very close to the gangway and monitor all the comings and goings of persons to and from the ship. At sea the boatswain's mate of the watch is within ear shot of the conning officer (on the bridge). The boatswain's mate of the watch supervises the rest of the enlisted watch standers on deck. They include helmsman, messenger of the watch, and all the look outs. In port or at sea the boatswain's mate of the watch is charged with the responsibility of making all announcements to the crew; everything from chow call to general quarters (battle stations).
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