The accommodation area is the part of the ship which is used for cabins, dining areas and other facilities of the crew.
According to SOLAS, the ship’s accommodation area is used for public spaces, corridors, lavatories, cabins, offices, hospitals, recreation rooms etc.
During the early days of ships with sails, the forward part of the ship was used as living quarters for sailors. The fo’c’sle was the home to the crew where they would sleep in bunks or slung hammocks.
Usually, there was no seating arrangement in this area. Meals were often served on deck, and the sailors would usually only retreat inside during foul weather.
It is extremely important that crew members are provided with proper accommodation facilities to enhance their overall safety, productivity, well-being and morale.
The accommodation area is usually in the stern part of the ship. It is close to the steering and navigation areas and also has access to the engine room.
Most of the people misunderstand the superstructure on a ship as accommodation. But in fact, it is called the superstructure which houses the accommodation area along with other necessary spaces such as navigation bridge, air conditioning room and Galley of the ship etc.
The crew and officers have separate living spaces usually on different levels so that they can eat, sleep, work and socialise while away at sea.
The accommodation area can be accessed from both port and starboard sides of the ship using weathertight doors, as ships can be berthed along any side.
The accommodation and other spaces in the superstructure are spread across different decks (levels) which can be accessed through alleyways.
Most of the decks have weathertight doors at extreme ends, which are used as the nearest emergency exit which usually opens to the muster deck or boat deck.
The entry-level deck comprises the ship’s office where the chief officer and other deck officers interact with cargo planners, port representatives etc. There is a cargo control room, fire control and storage room, stevedore cabin etc. in this level
A Changing locker room is also provided where the crew can change and store their work outfits post duty hours.
Depending upon the size of the ship, the access to the engine room can be from this level or from the deck below.
The below level may also consist of the cold storage and food storage compartments i.e. veg room, which is kept at a temperature of ~ 5 degrees C, a meat room to keep frozen meat at ~-10 to -15 deg C and a fish room at -20 deg C
At the same level, the air conditioning plant for the accommodation is usually located which supplies temperature control air to all levels through the system of pipes and trunks.
The above level has the galley and mess room for officers and rating. To provide ease of accessibility, the galley is usually located at the centre and officers’ mess and crew mess are on both sides of the galley.
Recreational rooms for officers and crew can be located in the same deck or sometimes combined with the mess room in case of space constraints.
The deck above it can have the cabins for crew and ratings and the next level alleyway will have operation level officers cabin.
The laundry room for the crew is located at the level where there are a maximum number of crew cabins, similarly, the officer laundry room is located at the officer cabin level.
The officers and crew cabin will usually have a bed, chair, table, and a washroom attached to it. The size of the cabin may change depending on the ship size as officers’ cabins are usually bigger than those of the ratings.
One of the crew accommodation decks will have a hospital room which is also known as sickbay. They are located at the corner of the alleyway to maintain enough separation from other cabins.
The Top two levels will have cabins of management level officers, which are bigger in size and usually have a day room apart from the sleeping quarters.
All the levels inside the accommodation can be accessed by using an elevator or stairs. Each level of the superstructure is provided with a fire door.
The captain and chief engineer’s cabin utilises a larger part of the accommodation region which includes sleeping quarters, dining saloon, office and day room. In the same level, few spare cabins are provided for owners or superintendent when they are onboard.
The stairs to go to the bridge is located on this level so that the Master can access the bridge at the earliest when required.
The accommodation area displays with different notifications, signs and SOLAS posters to ensure crew are aware of the regulations and requirements at all times.
The accommodation on a cargo ship is entirely different from a cruise ship and the design of the ship’s accommodation is arranged as per the design of the cargo space of the ship.