Categories: a-port-information, BusinessPublished On: 14.11.2022506 words2.7 min read

Deck cadet Scarlett Barnett-Smith on her first time onboard, challenges and what the future holds

Scarlett Barnett-Smith in front of RRS Sir David Attenborough. Credit: Scarlett Barnett-Smith

Deck cadet Scarlett Barnett-Smith has been working on the RRS Sir David Attenborough for her latest sea phase, and is looking forward to being able to join her next ship as a qualified officer. She answered questions on the Nautilus Instagram account as she took over for the day

What is your current role?
I’m a deck cadet sponsored by the Port of London Authority and Trinity House. I’m currently onboard the one, the only, RRS Sir David Attenborough.

How did you begin your career at sea?
My first experience working onboard was on the Trinity House vessel Galatea. It was very daunting walking up to the ship and seeing the gangway. It was kind of ‘Oh my gosh, it’s actually happening’.

But when I got onboard and I had my first meal in the mess with the crew, I definitely felt at ease and more comfortable. Then you get working and there’s so much to do. So you don’t really have time to think about it, which really helped me get through that first week onboard.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
For me, the most rewarding part of being a cadet is actually being at sea, onboard a ship. When you’re at sea and you’re on the bridge, and you’re assisting the officer of the watch navigating you’re watching those sunrises and sunsets, you’re seeing dolphins, you’re seeing whales, the wildlife, the birds, it’s just unbelievable.

Is there something you wish you knew before going to sea?
That I didn’t need to pack my entire belongings when joining a ship. I think when you first join a ship and you have no idea what you need to bring, you kind of go overboard with the packing, and I really did pack so many snacks and clothes. Most of the time, you’re wearing PPE or uniform, or you’re in bed wearing your pyjamas sleeping.

And when you’re onboard, surprisingly, they actually provide you with food and snacks. So I brought about a month’s worth of food that I did not need because I was panicking and I just packed and packed and packed!

Can you share a challenge that you’ve faced in your cadetship?
I feel like Covid-19 affected a lot of cadets in the industry. For me personally, Phase One was affected most dramatically. The majority of it was spent online learning, which definitely was challenging at times.

But I adapted, I passed my exams and I got to sea. I’ve been very lucky because I’ve been able to get quite a lot of sea time compared to other cadets.

What are your plans for the future?
The most important thing I’m trying to achieve is my Officer of the Watch certificate. After I’m finished onboard my last ship as a cadet, I will be going back to college for Phase Five.