A first mate, sometimes known as a vice-captain, is the top officer on board a ship after the captain. Mostly, they may fill a number of roles from checking stock to making sure everyone else is doing their job on the ship, leaving their captain to more important duties. They answer only to the captain of the ship.
Role and Duties
Essentially, the first mate is the one officer the captain must put full trust in and pick carefully. They are the captain's right-hand and if the captain is not at hand on the ship or is otherwise incapacitated, the first mate is the next in line to take over the captain's job.
|Silvers Rayleigh ‡||Jango ‡||Sarquiss *|
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In One Piece
Most pirate crews have a first mate. From the Buggy Pirates to the Red Haired Pirates this crew role is a common sight. While the captain is regarded as the strongest crew member, the first mate is regarded as the captain's champion, or their crew's second strongest, so to speak. Indeed, Rayleigh, Beckman, Mohji, Jango, Sarquiss, and Corto are all considered to be the second most powerful among their respective crews, just under their captains. Okome is the only first mate whose strength cannot be compared due to his captain's absence in the series. On the other hand, Byojack was physically weak compared to anyone else on his crew due to his illness, and apparently got his position as first mate of the World Pirates by being the beloved brother of captain Byrnndi World, and compensates with his intellectual abilities.
Commanders and Officers
There are some cases where larger crews have used other systems of management such as the "Division" Commander (隊長 Taichō?) rank used in the Krieg Pirates and Whitebeard Pirates, likely as a result of the sheer size of the crews. Others, like the Arlong Pirates, New Fishman Pirates and Donquixote Pirates, use the rank "Officer" to allow these higher-ranking members to command the lower-ranking ones without the need to separate into "divisions", similar to having multiple first mates. There is also the case that a first mate can be found among the lines of the officers, as is the case with Benn Beckman.
In the case of the Donquixote Pirates, they have four "Top Executives" (最高幹部 Saikō Kanbu?), ranking over the eleven other officers. Both the Big Mom Pirates and Beasts Pirates also have three executive commanders that hold equal power and rank only below their captain in the crew's hierarchy, jointly acting as second-in-commands. The Big Mom Pirates have the Three Sweet Commanders (スイート3将星 Suīto San Shōsei?) (formerly four until Charlotte Snack got demoted), consisting of Big Mom's strongest children, while the Beasts Pirates have the All-Stars (大看板 Ōkanban?), who were handpicked by Kaido himself to lead his forces.
- In One Piece Yellow: Grand Elements, Roronoa Zoro is referred to as "a trustworthy figure, being almost as a second in command". But it can be interpreted as a mention of him as the "right hand" of his captain (being a use for those who are the captains' trusted men), as Queen mentions to him and Sanji.
- Initially, Usopp was going to be like a "vice-captain" of the Straw Hat Pirates.