Pirate ships usually carried the same complement of crewmen as the ships of navies and merchant traders. Every crewman knew his responsibilities in the mechanical function of sailing a ship, and knew what was expected in the heat of battle. One of the undeniable attributes that virtually all pirates possessed was that of able-bodied seamanship. Laziness or incompetence from any member created more work for others and also posed a threat of disaster for the rest of the crew during times of peace or battle. Such behavior was never tolerated.
The major variation between pirate crews and those of formal sailing vessels was the level of power and respect afforded the officers. Many pirates inherently despised the ruthless authority that they'd endured at the hands of naval commanders and the officers of merchant ships. As pirates, they learned to demand equality and respect. One of the key factors that created that equality and separated pirates from traditional seamen was simply that every pirate was armed to the teeth and capable of inflicting serious harm.
Leader of the Pack
Many pirate crews included an informal council to make important decisions by majority rule, and one of the most important of those decisions was to select a ship's captain. In running down prey at sea and in the actual heat of battle, every experienced sailor for thousands of years has known one inviolable rule: only one man can be in control of the ship, and that control must be absolute. On land, raiding bandits could afford a certain amount of autonomy. At sea, with nowhere to go but the deck beneath a sailor's feet, a single nonconformist acting individually could get an entire crew killed.
Elected captains on pirate ships were chosen for their leadership, their tactical knowledge for closing in on prey vessels, and their ability to orchestrate a successful boarding without destroying the target or harming the cargo. Pirate captains also needed to know trade routes and the locations of potential prizes. When in port, a good captain would intentionally cruise taverns, not so much to drink and make merry, but to gather every tidbit of information possible about incoming and departing ships, and the cargo they carried. For his efforts, the successful pirate captain received additional shares of plunder.
If a captain failed to produce potential prizes, or if he made tactical decisions that caused damage to the ship or cost lives, the crew would quickly depose him and install a new shipmate in his place. Usually accepting the majority decision of the crew, the deposed captain would simply assume other duties as a crewman.
Some pirate captains took control of their ships by intimidation and imposition rather than by democratic procedures. These captains, such as the infamous Blackbeard and buccaneer Henry Morgan, maintained their control by supplying their crews with repeated successes. Those that failed to do so faced mutiny, imprisonment, or even death.
Lieutenant and Ship's Master
Boatswain and Helmsman
What kind of ammunition was used in cannons?
On a few pirate vessels, it seems that the quartermaster was second in ship's power only to the captain. On most ships, however, the quartermaster was responsible for keeping track of ship stores and inventory. Part of those duties involved keeping track of plunder and helping with its distribution among the crew. He would also serve as arbiter for disputes among crewmembers, and as the liaison between a ship's crew and its captain.
One of the busiest seamen onboard any early sailing vessel was a ship's carpenter. Wooden ships were, by their very nature, continually in need of repair from water damage, wear and tear on the many constantly moving parts, and damage resulting from combat. It's probable that most pirate ships were not given anywhere near the same attention that naval and merchant ships received in regard to carpentry. In the absence of a ship's surgeon and having skill with saws, the carpenter might also participate in amputating the limbs of fellow pirates who were seriously wounded in combat or shipboard accidents.