Definitions of Boatswain

Definitions of Boatswain

Before entering fully into the establishment of the meaning of the term boatswain, it is necessary and interesting to discover its etymological origin. In this case we can state that the majority of theories establish that it derives from the old Catalan “Bosswain”.

The first document that is preserved where that word that we are addressing is used is in the “Diary of the first voyage of Columbus”, dated in the year 1492.

The notion of boatswain is used to name the individual who is responsible for directing the crew. In the Navy, he carries out orders given by the war officer.

According to, the boatswain must develop multiple functions in a boat. He is responsible for the conservation and control of the gear, being the one who must indicate to the captain what repairs are necessary. He also has to communicate to the sailors what tasks they must carry out on board, checking that they carry them out properly.

The bosuns, on the other hand, must guarantee the discipline and order of the crew, giving intervention to the captain when necessary. If the captain and the pilot are disabled or unable to fulfill their duties, the boatswain assumes command of the ship.

The organization of the cargo and the inventory of supplies and gear are also the responsibilities of the boatswain, who has the obligation to ensure that the vessel is prepared to carry out the necessary maneuvers at all times.

Other specific functions that the bosun has are to ensure that the weapons are in order and in perfect condition or that the ship is in the necessary conditions so that the relevant maneuvers can be carried out.

In pirate crews there was also the figure of the boatswain. Thus, he was in charge of proceeding to communicate the wishes of the captain to the men of the ship’s crew. In this sense, it must be stated that, in terms of hierarchy, he was below the captain and lieutenant.

On the other hand, the ship’s space that is used for the storage of the elements that are required for the operation and maintenance of the ship is called the boatswain’s locker. Tools, wires, lashing devices and other objects are stored there.

It is interesting to know that, as a general rule, this boatswain’s locker is located in the bow area, exactly in the forecastle. It is below the deck of that and above what is the forepeak.

In Cuba, Contramaestre is the name of a municipality that belongs to the province of Santiago de Cuba. It has just over 100,000 inhabitants spread over an area of about 610 square kilometers.

This population was founded in 1976 as a result of the political-administrative division that took place. Its economy is fundamentally based on the cultivation of coffee and citrus fruits, on the raising of cattle (cattle, pigs, horses, sheep…) and on the cultivation of sugar cane.

Contramaestre Casado (A-01), finally, is an auxiliary ship that has been part of the Spanish Navy since 1982. She was built in 1951 in Sweden as a merchant ship.


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