This isn't so much a suggestion as an idea I'd like to hear different PoVs on.
I was wondering whether it might encourage more efficiency (and flavour) among crews if players chose from three different classes upon spawning. These classes would be capable of doing everything players currently can do, but would give minor buffs to certain tasks.
My ideas for classes (take the 10% figure with a pinch of salt, I just felt boosts should be minor):
Marine: 10% buff to reload speed with hand-held weapons, 10% faster attack speed with melee weapons
Gunner: 10% buff to speed of actions with cannons (cannons are pushed to position 10% faster, ramrod works 10% faster)
Deckhand: 10% buff to repair speed, 10% faster pump operation
Class numbers would be capped so as to balance out the player roles necessary on different ship sizes (7 player ships would probably want a captain, 3 gunners, 1 marine and 2 deckhands).
The logic behind this idea isn't to lock players out of performing certain tasks, but more to give them encouragement to optimise their tasks onboard ship and have things feel a bit less chaotic. Introducing player classes would also allow players a greater variety in customising appearances (Marines, for example, would wear military uniforms, Gunners could look more like Petty Officers and Deckhands like the current player models). It'd also be cool to have distinct Captain appearances.
Anyway, I haven't necessarily thought this through, it was more of a 'shower thought;' but do let me know what you think.