Since an OOW works with shifts, he has to hand over the watch to the relieving OOW, when his shift ends and inform him on specific issues. Before this, he should ensure that the relieving navigating officer is capable of watchstanding and call the Master if he deems it necessary.

Inadequate watchstanding  sets vessel aground

In 2008, a container ship on a voyage from Italy to United Arab Emirates, run aground at Ras Shukheir in the Gulf of Suez. The vessel had a speed of 21 knots along the southern edge of the traffic separation scheme and according to the voyage planning, specific course changes should be carried out in the direction of traffic. At the handing over of the watch, the traffic situation had been explained and also that two course changes and overtaking maneuvers were to be expected in the immediate future. The traffic appeared to be running smoothly, with no close approaches by other vessels. As a consequence, the relieving OOW decided to dismiss the lookout to carry out cleaning works in the superstructures. After this, he proceeded to the radio station where he read his emails on the computer and in between observed the radar display. The Vessel Traffic Service had suddenly called and drawn attention to the danger of stranding. The OOW proceeded to the radar set and ascertained that speed was being reduced. In his estimation it was now too late to alter course with strong rudder maneuvers or to check the position on the chart. Intuitively, he put the engine telegraph to stop. He then set the vessel gently aground. The incident reveals that the OOW should always consider the information given to him during the change over of the marine watch and also be capable of implementing his duties.

Items to be watched by the OOW:

  • Master’s daily orders
  • GMDSS and Deck logs to be updated
  • Position, course, speed and draught of the vessel
  • Passage Plan
  • Current traffic conditions and movements of vessels in the vicinity
  • The bridge equipment (AIS, Autopilot, GNSS, etc.)
  • Status of communication equipment
  • Status of propulsion and steering equipment
  • Status of watertight doors and fire zones
  • Vessel’s security
  • Radio communications to be tuned/monitoring in the proper frequencies/Channels

Actions to be taken by the OOW regarding ECDIS:

  • Orders and instructions by Master should be followed
  • Operational condition should be watched
  • Errors that may have been identified should be watched
  • Ensure that correct Display setting is shown
  • The correct route should be loaded in Route Monitoring and Route Editor
  • Safety Depth and Safety Contour settings shoulf be configured correctly
  • The Anti-Grounding Cone should be set
  • The chart in use should be the most recently corrected and in the best scale
  • Vessel’s position should be fixed
  • The ECDIS Management card should be updated

SQE Marine has prepared a checklist aiming to provide the necessary steps required, to achieve the effective watchstanding