Steward's assistant

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Steward's assistant
An SA works closely with the chief cook and chief steward.
Other names Waiter, messman, galley utilityman.
Department Steward's department
Reports to Chief steward, Chief cook
Duties Food handler, cleaning, stocking.
Requirements Merchant Mariner's Document or equivalent.
Watchstander No.

A steward's assistant (SA) is an unlicensed, entry-level crewmember in the Steward's department of a merchant ship. This position can also be referred to as steward (the usual term on British ships), galley utilityman, messman, supply or waiter.

The role of the SA consists mainly of stocking, cleaning and assisting with the preparation and serving of meals.

The SA often assists the steward by removing stocks such as food, linen, and utensils and making sure they arrive where they're needed. Closely involved with the storeroom operations, the SA will assist in taking inventory. The SA also is typically in charge of the ship's linens, not only sorting, counting, and stocking but also issuing them to the crew.

The SA is a foodhandler, and perhaps most visible while assisting the chief cook with the serving of meals. Depending on the ship, this can include taking orders and delivering the food to the tables in the ship's messroom and officer's saloon. The SA also customarily sets out the "night lunches" for watchstanders preparing to start late night watches, as well as setting and clearing tables.

A ship's galley, pantry, and eating areas are notoriously hard to keep clean and sanitary, and this activity keeps the SA busy for much of his time. The SA must clean the ship's mess and officer's saloon, and the gear in both. This includes keeping the decks clean by sweeping and scrubbing. The SA disposes of trash and keeps garbage cans clean. Other tasks could include defrosting and cleansing refrigerators, cleaning brightwork and woodwork, and removing grease and finger marks from paintwork.

Depending on the ship and crewing, the SA may be responsible for other cleaning duties, such as stairways and passageways, laundry rooms, refrigerated spaces, storerooms, linen lockers, the ship's office, the radio room and any other areas assigned to the steward's department. An SA may be responsible for making up bunks and cleaning rooms, toilets, and showers of officers and others.

In the United States Merchant Marine, in order to be occupied as an SA a person has to have a Merchant Mariner's Document issued by the United States Coast Guard. Because of international conventions and agreements, all SAs who sail internationally are similarly documented by their respective countries.

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