Seaman In the Commonwealth it is the lowest rank in the navy, followed by able seaman and leading seaman, and followed by the petty officer ranks.

In the United States, it means the lowest three enlisted rates of the U.S. Navy, followed by the higher petty officer ranks. The equivalent of the seaman is the matelot in French-speaking countries, and Matrose in German-speaking countries.

The term "seaman" is also a general-purpose for a man or a woman who works anywhere on board a modern ship, including in the engine spaces, which is the very opposite of sailing. This is untrue in the US Navy where a sailor might be a seaman but not all US Navy sailors are seamen as they might be an Airman or Fireman. Furthermore, "seaman" is a short form for the status of an "able-bodied seaman," either in the navies or in the merchant marines. An able-bodied seaman is one who is fully trained and qualified to work on the decks and superstructure of modern ships, even during foul weather, whereas less-qualified sailors are restricted to remaining within the ship during times of foul weather — lest they be swept overboard by the stormy seas or by the high winds.

By Dean Hanley

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