Who is Called Captain? Do Captains Drive the Ship? [Video]

If you’ve ever been on a boat or even watched a movie with a boat on it you’ve likely heard ‘aye, aye, captain’ more than once.

It’s a phrase that has become pretty common. Whether it’s in real life or in the movies, it’s definitely the first thing we think of.

But what does it mean to be captain of a boat? And just who is actually called the captain? With so many people on the crew, it can be difficult to understand their roles. At least, without a little help.

Who is Called Captain?

The Captain on a boat is the person who is in charge of the ship while it’s at sea. In fact, there are several different types of people who could be called ‘Captain.’ You don’t necessarily have to have any specific qualifications.

In most cases, the Captain is a civilian who has a master’s license or a naval commissioned officer with any level of rank. But that is only the case if you’re talking about a merchant ship or a naval ship.

If you’re talking about a boat that is sailed for recreational purposes the Captain is usually just the person who is sailing the ship.

Another term for the Captain is the ‘Master’ as they’re referred to on legal documents related to the shipping industry.

What is the Highest Rank on a Ship?

The Captain is actually the highest ranking member of a ship’s crew. That means they are the one who gets to make all of the rules and provide the instructions. They are in charge of deciding where to sail and how the ship’s operations are carried out.

Also known as the ‘Master’ of the ship, the Captain comes in ahead of the Chief Mate, Second Mate and Third Mate. The Deck Cadet, Chief Engineer, Second Engineer and Third Engineer come after them.

In fact, there are a number of different ranks for those sailing on a ship, also referred to as the ‘ships crew.’

The Captain, however, outranks all of them and is often considered the representative of the owner of the ship rather than part of the crew.

Do Captains Drive the Ship?

The Captain is not responsible for driving the ship, but rather for overseeing the process. Rather than engaging in any specific task, the Captain is responsible for making sure everyone else does the jobs that they are supposed to do and that all ship operations go smoothly.

The Captain is in charge of telling the officers what they should be doing. This could include directing where the ship will go but does not include actually steering the boat or taking control of the wheel.

Instead, they may oversee the helmsmen, which is generally the person in charge of ‘driving’ or sailing the boat.

Where Does the Captain Sit on a Cruise Ship?

If you’ve ever sailed on a cruise ship you know there’s always a Captain, who’s usually introduced early on. Then the Captain may disappear. That’s because they spend most of their time at the top or front of the ship, generally in the control room.

This location gives the Captain a clear and unobstructed view of the surroundings of the ship, which allows them to give better directions.

They are better able to observe what’s happening on the ship if they are located in the control room. They will also be able to take care of any problems that might occur from here.

What Do You Call a Female Captain of a Boat?

A female Captain of a boat can be referred to by the term ‘Captainess.’ This word, however, has not been widely publicized and isn’t very well known. That’s one reason most female Captains are still referred to as ‘Captain.’

For some, the idea of having separate terms for male and female Captains is inappropriate because it seems to suggest a difference between the two.

While the word ‘Captainess’ is appropriate, most prefer to use the term ‘Captain’ to refer to either a male or a female Captain.

Can a Ship Have Two Captains?

Technically, the rule is that you cannot have two Captains on the same ship. This is because the Captain is considered the highest ranking person on the ship and needs to be able to give uncontested orders. If there are multiple Captains there is no one person in charge.

Now, the way that some ships get around this rule is to have two Captains on the ship but only one actively in command.

This means that one Captain would be in command at any given time. While in command, that Captain would be able to make all rules and decisions regarding the ship.

The other Captain would be a regular member of the crew or may be in their own quarters at that time.

When the command switches the other Captain is in full command and the first is relieved of duty.

Can Captains Marry People?

The short answer is that just being a Captain does not give someone the right to marry people. This has been used in movies, books and more, but it’s not actually a fact. Instead, a Captain must be licensed in order to marry people.

A Captain who is also a judge, justice of the peace, notary public or minister is able to marry people at sea. Just being a Captain is not enough.

This is especially true of Navy Captains who were once explicitly stated to be incapable of performing a marriage ceremony on their ship.


The Captain of a boat has one primary responsibility, to oversee all activity on the ship.

This is a large responsibility, however, and means that the Captain must watch over what’s happening with everyone on the ship.

That way they can answer any questions, take care of any problems and get the ship where it needs to go. They are essentially the most important person on the ship!

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