'Deadliest Catch'
Source: Discovery

'Deadliest Catch' Shows Us Working Life on a Ship, From the Barracks to the Quarters

Jamie Lerner - Author
By

Aug. 31 2022, Published 11:09 a.m. ET

On the Discovery Channel’s hit series, Deadliest Catch, we watch as fishermen in Alaska work to make a living. This forces them into deadly waters (which is where the show gets its name), as they must fish through some truly life-threatening conditions. It takes generations and years of experience to become a captain.

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However, there are other jobs that are extremely important aboard the various Deadliest Catch ships. For many of us non-fishing viewers, we don’t know too much about these different jobs. So whether we’re just looking to learn more about Deadliest Catch canon, or want to switch into the dangerous fishing field, here’s a breakdown of all the jobs featured on Deadliest Catch.

'Deadliest Catch'
Source: Discovery
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The Captain

Captain Sig Hansen in 'Deadliest Catch'
Source: Discovery

The best-known job among the Deadliest Catch jobs is of course the captain of the ship. Every ship has its captain, and every captain has its crew. But the captains are responsible for everyone’s lives… literally. From intercrew relationships to navigating the boats through typhoons and other dangerous situations, captains make every major decision on board.

They’re the ones who drive the strategy of the boat, and within that, the livelihoods of their crews. In a 2020 Reddit poll, fans voted Captain Sig Hansen of the Northwestern the best captain of the series.

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The Relief Captain

Monte Colburn in 'Deadliest Catch'
Source: Discovery

The relief captain does exactly what we’d expect — they relieve the captain of their duties if need be. This means that if the captain is sick or indisposed for any number of reasons, the relief captain can take over. Typically, a relief captain on one of the Deadliest Catch vessels has experience captaining another smaller boat. For example, Monte Colburn, the Wizard’s relief captain, took command of his own crab boats for a time before returning to the Wizard.

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First Mate

Gary Soper in 'Deadliest Catch'
Source: Discovery

The first mate is often the next in command after the captain while they’re both on duty. At times, the first mate also controls the ship at night if they’re sailing for 24 hours. In addition, while the captain tends to control bigger picture things, the first mate focuses more on the day-to-day. On the Wizard, Gary Soper is both the first mate and the deck boss.

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Deck Boss

Nick McGlashan in 'Deadliest Catch'
Source: Discovery

The deck boss has many of the same responsibilities as the first mate, and oversees the daily activities of the deckhands. They often maintain and manage everything that happens on the deck as far as fishing operations, crab pots, and even minor disputes among the deckhands and crew. 33-year-old Nick McGlashan was a deck boss aboard the Summer Bay before he tragically passed away in 2020.

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Deckhand

Freddy Maugatai in 'Deadliest Catch'
Source: Discovery

Deckhands are basically responsible for the dirty work and physical labor of the ship. Some of our favorite Deadliest Catch characters are deckhands. They may have to clean, maintain the boat, lift cargo, man the bait station, help in the engine room, and of course, catch crabs, but many manage to keep up a positive attitude.

Take the Wizard’s Freddy Maugatai, who does a cod blood bath ritual at the season’s start and gives his fellow crew members mohawks for good luck.

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Engineer

James Gallagher in 'Deadliest Catch'
Source: Discovery

Deadliest Catch and its many ships couldn’t exist without the engineer. They basically maintain the engine of the ship, as well as all of the ship’s systems. They’re like the IT guys of Deadliest Catch. But they have to be extremely tough — they work in freezing cold conditions, and are often experienced greenhorns and deckhands before making the jump to engineer. Lady Alaska engineer James Gallagher, for example, rotates between engineering and being a deckhand daily.

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Greenhorn

Shyanne Smith in 'Deadliest Catch'
Source: Discovery

The lowest job on the Deadliest Catch totem pole is the greenhorn. They do what the deckhands don’t want to do, and don’t have to do. But like deckhands, some of the greenhorns are our favorite characters on the show, such as Shyanne Smith, who just joined the crew of the F/V Saga. Greenhorns tend to get “hazed” as a way to prepare them for the tough conditions of the ship — will Shyanne make it through?

Watch new episodes of Deadliest Catch every Tuesday at 8 p.m. EST on Discover Channel.

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