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FIRST MATE AND SECOND MATE - The first mate of a ship is the captain's right-hand man, and often takes control of the ship when the captain is unable to give orders. It's the first mate that takes care of the day-to-day problems, including paperwork, assisting in navigation, making sure the ship stays clean, and assigning the crew to tasks.
On larger ships, there may also be a second mate, who aids the first mate in his duties and becomes third in command. On small, non-military ships, there may not be a first mate at all, the quartermaster also taking on all the first mate's tasks and rank. http://saltybirds.livejournal.com/1740.html
xxxBourth Local time: 18:31 Native speaker of: English PRO pts in category: 142