Bridge Watch keeping

The work of navigating offices goes on winter and summer day and night in calm weather and install this applies equally whether engaged in passage planning taking the watch or entering or leaving confined waters under pilotage it is critical work as over 80% of insured losses due to collision grounding and contact damage are said to arise from human error this program examines the work of the officer of the watch during watch keeping any shipping casualty whether it’s by grounding collision or fire represents an enormous cost to the maritime community in addition to the lives which can be lost and the environmental damage which may be caused the burden of increased insurance costs affects all ships yet most shipping casualties are avoidable analysis of statistics shows that up to 80% of losses are due to human error and that often means bridge watchkeeping error bridge watchkeeping is the most important activity on board a ship at sea while on watch the responsibility for the safety and security of the ship and all those on board falls squarely on the watch keeping officer this task requires good training a high standard of skills and effective time management the prime task of the watch keeping officer is to ensure that the ship is never put in a position of uncontrollable risk this means always knowing the ship’s situation and keeping a good lookout at all times the officer will need to divide his time between various activities which include navigation maintaining a radar watch and a lookout manning levels on the bridge will depend on the type of passage and the type of ship in busy coastal waters and in poor visibility there will be a need for additional lookouts the principle is that the requirements for safe navigation must come before all other operations on board every watch keeper has known the moment when a routine watch has suddenly developed into a critical situation to be able to respond effectively at that moment means having followed the correct procedures up until then this starts by being fully prepared at the beginning of the voyage officers need to know the companies and the Masters Standing Orders they must also familiarize themselves with their ship they need to know how to use the main engines and to understand the operational limitations of the ship’s propulsion and steering systems the right way to start a watch is to get up on the bridge early human once on the bridge the incoming watch keeper must check the masters night orders relating to the passage it is good practice to check the planned track for the entire watch this will give an idea of what situations are likely to develop being early will allow plenty of time for your eyes to become accustomed to the light and to familiarize yourself with the ship situation

is any adverse weather forecast for the watch during the handover the officer needs to check that all the navigational equipment is functioning correctly the outgoing watch keeping officer must be certain that the new watch keeper is fit for duty so that the safety of the ship is being transferred into safe hands the new watch keeper must not be under the influence of drink or drugs more often fatigue may be a concern if there is any doubt about an officer’s ability to take his watch then the master must be informed you are taking shit the new watch keeper double checks the radar and upper settings and the navigational instruments the handing over watch keeper should give an assessment of the navigational situation pointing out the systems being used any faults or errors indicating any traffic that could be a threat the new watch keeper is told whether the steering is set for manual or automatic the course being steered and compass error he must confirm all these for himself in the Jaro compass it’s repeaters and the magnetic compass are checked and compared when both watch keepers are satisfied that everything is as it should be then the new watch keeping officer takes charge watch handover must never take place during a manoeuvre or during a collision avoidance procedure normally the outgoing watch keeper will remain on the bridge to complete the log the basis of keeping a safe watch is to maintain a good grasp of the ship situation this entails watching the surroundings as well as using the navigation of instruments you must keep an all-around lookout in both sound vision and by radar when the watch keeping officer is the only person on the bridge keeping a good lookout is his first priority if the workload on the officer grows to a point where he cannot keep an effective lookout he must call for assistance in good time lookouts must be available at all times to be called to the bridge if required rather than leaving them to get on with the task all lookouts should be properly briefed by the watch keeping officer instructions should be given about what landmarks lights and boys to look out for in addition to watching for other ships a vital part of the watch keeping officers job is to listen out to the VHF for any signals or warnings and traffic messages with one piece repeat the effort about 28 to 8 he must be aware of the movements and the compass bearings of all approaching ships the other vital task is to ensure that the ships track made good is the intended track over the ground it’s important to check that all steering alterations are put into effect

and that they have the intended result the ship should have a passage plan this will show the officer the track to navigate it must also include information on the chart with a notebook giving additional information the passage plan should show safety margins in difficult passages alter course positions clearing bearings for obstacles tidal streams and so on it should provide sufficient information so that he does not need to keep referring to manuals and pilot books on the passage lights visual and radar landmarks should all have been noted and plotted the main engines are at the disposal of the watch keeping officer to navigate the ship watchkeeping officers need to manage their time balancing time spent on the radar at the chart and looking at the surroundings cross-checking and verifying the information from all three sources ensuring that they see what is actually there high on the list of priorities is the monitoring of other traffic the important thing is to think defensively try to anticipate never get into situations that you cannot get out of all the time think ahead ask yourself where is that echo going what might he do next what are my options it is vital that close-quarter situations are avoided all ships should be navigated according to the collision regulations but it cannot be relied upon that others will do the correct thing you must never risk the safety of your ship on that assumption in potentially dangerous situations it is essential to be decisive and to take positive action early if the problem ship is tracking you he will notice a clear change in course slowing down is an option but remember this takes time to register on the other ships radar here the vessel on the starboard bow is on a collision course an alteration of course will solve the problem the officer checks that the alteration is taking place here the course alteration has had the desired effect and there is no longer a risk of collision this is confirmed visually the changing bearing indicates that the danger is past whenever possible make a visual check never rely entirely on electronics once the danger is past the watch keeping officer will bring the ship back on to the intended track when the master comes on the bridge it must be made quite clear who has the responsibility for controlling the ship all the experience in the set and also I altered course to starboard a lot of that was also Trotman not much the one person in the world oh thanks the watch keeping officer will always maintain control of the ship unless specifically told otherwise by the master the passage plan should indicate the method and frequency of fixing the

ship’s position offshore this might mean once every few hours here satellite systems like GPS will be the most useful it’s worth occasionally taking a Sun or star site by sextant this will keep you in practice and will ensure that you’re not entirely dependent on electronic aids to determine your position in coastal waters where the position of the ship is more critical more than one method of fixing must always be used to cross check for accuracy in narrow waters the frequency of fixing will need to be much greater – once every 15 minutes or more often there must be no risk of the ship getting into danger between fixes parallel indexing is a very useful technique in coastal waters the passage plan will indicate where it’s to be used the track of a radar conspicuous point is drawn on a relative motion upper or radar display the offset of the track is the distance the ship needs to keep off the point in poor visibility parallel indexing can be extremely beneficial and all watchkeeping officers need to be thoroughly familiar with under no circumstances does this technique replace regular plotting of the ship’s position in addition the watch keeping officer needs when time is available to carry out a number of routine monitoring tasks these must include checking the compass error and checking other navigational equipment for errors other items to watch could include fire alarms watertight integrity monitoring equipment banish’d control apparatus and telecommunication equipment all these tasks need to be recorded in the log this record will provide a useful check should there be any malfunction it is essential that the watch keeping officer remains aware of what is going on inside his ship an important consideration is when to call the master the safety of the ship is the Masters responsibility and the watch keeping officer is discharging that responsibility only within the limits of the Masters orders precise instructions for calling the master to the bridge must be set out in the standing orders for example call me if any ship is to pass with the closest point of approach of less than one mile if the watch keeping officer is in any doubt as to whether he should call the master he must call the ship on the port bow is on a collision course a potentially hazardous situation is developing it is better to call the master too early rather than too late those last bits you have the master makes a quick assessment of the situation and takes over control of the ship making his intentions clear to the watch keeping officer first zero zero zero it’s a good idea to record the time of such a handover in the ship’s log the master then takes appropriate action we get one shot one it may be appropriate to use the ship’s whistle or other signal to indicate a change of course to

nearby ships it is always better to be defensive in your navigation bearing in mind the possibility that the other ship may not do the correct thing with the master having taken over control the watch keeping officer remains on the bridge to help him teamwork on the bridge is always important in difficult traffic situations it becomes vital the officer of the watch gives the master his fullest support not just simply doing what he’s told but double-checking things as well five degrees watch keepers should remember the words of a famous American Admiral no officer whatever his rank and experience should flatter himself that he’s immune to the inexplicable lapses of judgment calculation and memory or slips of the tongue in giving orders which have so often brought disaster to men of the highest reputation and ability apples close enough very closely funny how comedian all the cost per season to do so are you happy with the situation um yes okay you can take over the watch now and and give me a call if there is any talk I actually the watch keeping officer must always stay alert and double-check everything he does there is no more important task than watch keeping it involves the responsibility for the safety of the ship and everyone on board the watch keeping officer must always maintain an all-around lookout involving visual radar sound and VHF know the ship situation and how this relates to both fixed hazards and other ships in the vicinity ensure that the track made good is the intended track know when to call the master to the bridge and then call him early routinely check the ship’s navigational and other equipment based on good training and experience each officer must learn how to manage his time on watch there will be many demands on him but he must always bear in mind that the safety of the ship comes before all else further information and advice on the subject of watch keeping can be found in the nautical institute’s publications bridge team management and bridge watch keeping