Superyacht Crew Hierarchy
Working on a superyacht is truly a wonderful experience, and I can honestly say that I have not worked in such a unique industry before or since leaving the yachting industry. The following article explains the Superyacht Crew Hierarchy in detail along with what a superyacht actually is.
What is a superyacht?
The word yacht comes from the Dutch word ‘jacht’, which means to hunt. Originally the yacht was a light and fast vessel that was used by the Dutch Navy to pursue pirates. After 1650, this developed into a luxury vessel for VIPs and was used by the Dutch Navy until 1843.
Yachts for civilians were known as ‘play yachts’. Until the 1990’s most yachts were usually under 40 metres. Over the years they have slowly become larger. Currently, the largest yacht to date is 163 metres, with a 180 metre ‘new build’ under construction at the world-renowned German shipbuilding company ‘Lurssen’.
Luxury, indulgence, elegant, expensive, bling, sumptuous, rare. The world of luxury yachting has taken off exponentially in the new Millennium. It seems the rich and famous are no longer satisfied with a mere luxury superyacht, and towards the end of the last century, the term ‘mega and ‘Giga’ yacht had come into use.
This has resulted in an increase in the demand for highly skilled crew. The years of backpacker dominated docks have been replaced by the bachelor holding hotel managers and commercially qualified professional seamen.
There is no absolute definition of this subject, so this is what I found on Wikipedia:
“The term luxury yacht, superyacht, large yacht and mega yacht, refers to the expensive privately owned yachts, which are professionally crewed.”
Who owns these superyachts?
Well, it’s no surprise that superyachts are owned by wealthy people. The superyacht industry knows no boundaries and the yacht owners come from all corners of the globe. The yacht owners are people from varying backgrounds. It is true that some owners are movie stars and celebrities.
The majority of the owners are wealthy business people, who prefer to stay away from the paparazzi and who prefer to have their identity kept secret. The yachts are used for various reasons.
Some are completely privately owned, others are for charter only, and the rest operate between these two positions. Charter prices also range from tens of thousands, through to hundreds of thousands.
The Organisational Structure
The organisational structure onboard a superyacht can best be described as being top-down and strongly hierarchical (as shown below) based upon a military model. Where positions, job duties and lines of authority are set, however, a superyacht is not the military, nor is it merchant shipping or large-scale commercial shipping like cruise liners.
Obviously, the larger yachts will have more crew with the same title and job description. Another area that may cause a little confusion is in the galley. Most yachts run with a chef or cook on a smaller yacht and only the larger super/mega yachts run with a team of chefs.
The following diagram represents clearly the formal structure by which superyachts operate. It also shows a clear separation of authority and duties of their hierarchical rank.
A Superyacht runs this way for a few reasons:
- An authoritative chain of command is implemented for safety reasons, with the Captain is the master of the vessel… the king of the castle so to speak, with the Chief Engineer and Chief Officer following closely behind with the safety of the crew and vessel in their hands.
- The middle managers follow in line to execute the commanding orders.
- Followed by the lower ranks to carry out the orders.
This diagram broadly represents the chain of command on board a superyacht (please keep in mind that this example is a general summary and yachts will differ in the organizational structure.).
The horizontal specialization of the crew is again quite obvious, with each department specializing in their relevant departments:
Superyacht Crew Hierarchy
Engineering: Safety and smooth operational running of the vessel and hotel services.
Deck: Passage delivery, Safety, Outside housekeeping/maintenance, guest outdoor activities.
Interior: Guest wellbeing, guest control in an emergency, housekeeping, hotel management, activity planner, accounting and guest liaison.
Galley: Guest food preparation, crew food preparation, galley and store stock control, hygiene and maintenance.