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What does a Tankerman do?

Brian Beckcom

Brian Beckcom


The main responsibility of a tankerman is to prepare and maintain the vessel that they are assigned to. They have to monitor the transfer of liquid cargo to and from the vessel to ensure it is done in a safe and efficient manner. The exact responsibilities may differ depending on the type of vessel the tankerman is on, but they are required to be able to partake in heavy physical labor, be familiar with the government regulations associated with the vessel they are working on, and be able to work long hours and days.

Tankermen have extremely difficult jobs and must be dedicated to their position. We have broken down their positions to explore their work environment, physical demands, outlook, income, and stress.

Work Environment

Working in the maritime and offshore industry comes with many challenges as mariners have to work in difficult weather and conditions at times. Tankermen have to be prepared to work prolonged hours and days because their shifts aboard their vessel can run from several days to several months. The tankerman must be able to handle, overhaul, rig, and maintain all lines in addition to performing general maintenance of the vessel, such as chipping and painting and general maintenance of on-board equipment.

Physical Demands

A tankerman has to be in great physical condition because he or she must be able to partake in hard physical labor in potentially dangerous conditions. They must be flexible as they have to fit into awkward positions, climb ladders, and walk on surfaces that are uneven or slippery. Tankermen walk around their vessel for a significant part of their shift and must be able to remain on their feet while they monitor the condition of the vessel. They must be able to handle heavy and complicated equipment and assist if there are any issues on their vessel.


Most tankermen have previous experience as deckhands, or sometimes they have prior job experience that doesn’t relate to the maritime and offshore industry. There is room for growth in their positions so the outlook of their jobs is positive.


Tankermen’s pay reflects their hard work and dedication to their job. Most marine companies require a tankerman to have a high school diploma or a GED and they must also have the appropriate documentation and license to work on the vessel that they are assigned to. They must also be familiar with the environmental and legal regulations in the jurisdiction where they are working. 


The stress of working as a tankerman on a vessel can be extreme, as a result of their demanding job. They typically work long hours and are on their vessel for extended periods of time, contributing to the challenges of completing their everyday tasks.

We are here to help

Working as a tankerman is one of the riskiest jobs in the offshore industry. At VB Attorneys, we have an extensive maritime practice and offshore practice. If you have been injured while working as a tankerman, you deserve the appropriate care and compensation. If you were injured because your employer or co-workers were negligent, you may have a claim. We respect the hard work that you do and feel that you should be respected by your company. Contact us if you need an experienced offshore attorney.