What are the duties and responsibilities of a wiper onboard ships?

The wiper is not a qualified member of the engine room in the true sense of the position. He is an all-around worker in the Engine Department of an oil-fired vessel. His is the only position open in that department for beginners and others not qualified in the more responsible ratings. The wiper washes paintwork, chips, scrapes, paints, and performs all those various duties tending to maintain the machinery spaces in a clean condition.

Where overhauling and repair work of boilers and machinery is carried on, the wiper helps in various ways, and it is through the knowledge that he gains while doing this work that he prepares himself for advancement.

Since he is first, last, and always a seaman, he should be familiar with nautical terms. He should realize the importance of emergency drills, know his stations in each, and be able to fulfill his part should the necessity arise to combat fire or abandon ship. As an engine department worker he should have an interest in mechanics, and be familiar with the names and the purposes of all the units in the power plant of the vessel.

Generally he is a day worker, and is not assigned to a watch. He should, as quickly as possible, familiarize himself with the hazards of using oil fuels, and operating pressure vessels.