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Watchkeeping in Port

Aporte de los alumnas German Frick y Felipe Freire

Basis of the watchkeeping officer in port:
- Shipboard operations procedures manual
- Cargo operational manual
- The masters standing orders
- Chief officers instruction
The officer on duty in port must always ask himself the following
- Is the cargo been loaded or discharged correctly?
- Is the right cargo been loaded?
- Is it in good order and condition?
- Is the loading or discharge been done in a safe and efficient way, using the
right equipment?
- Is the cargo likely to be damaged?
- Is the weight that the crane lifts within the safe working load of the cargo
handling equipment?
- Are the terminal conditions and regulations been kept?
- Is the ship likely to be damaged?
Prompt and accurate report of every damage must be done within 24 hours.
Commercial consequences
The chief officer will know what is critical in the cargo operation and you should
discuss the procedures with him. Most of the time cargo operations proceed
according to a pre determined plan. Is when the unexpected occurs that the
skill of the deck officer is really tested. By responding in the right way you can
make a big difference for the commercial performance of your own ship. Make
sure you know what can go wrong, and what to do and who to contact if it does.
Good situational awareness is the basis for any effective response.
Make sure you know what is going on at all times in port. This means:
- Be on deck for most of the time, keep the eyes open and communicate
constantly with the terminal staff.
- Make sure that the ship is safe (the hull itself, currents, tides, etc.). Cargo
operations can all move the ship in relation to the shore if the mooring
ropes are slack. The ropes need to be checked regularly.
- You must know the ship mooring equipment and the officer of the watch
needs to be familiarized with it operation and capability.
- Make sure you are aware of the tidal changes and keep an eye on the
weather forecast. Sudden changes can have a big impact on cargo
operations and additional mooring arrangements maybe needed.
- Be aware of nearby ship movement. Check the lines after any ship has
arrived or left the next berth.
- An officer of the watch in port needs to be sure that the cargo operations
are not compromising the stability of the ship, also make sure that the

loading and unloading are proceedings equally in port and starboard

keep and eye on the cargo plan. Make sure that is been followed. If you
deviate from it, the stability calculations will all have to be redone before
work can proceed.
Check constantly ballast so the ship will keep the stability.
Be aware about what is happening in the engine room.
How many people are working there, are any specials operations on the
way. If so, is there any a potential risk to personnel or risk to pollution.
Ensure that the ship does not pollute the enviroment.
The officer of the watch must keep in close contact with the bunkering
team throughout the operation.
Be familiarized with the SOPEP (Safety Oil Pollution Emergency Plan)
and the responsibilities detailed in it.
Be aware of the rules, regulations, and sensitivities of each port.
Keep an eye on the water around the ship and report to the terminal if
you see any pollution.
Be polite to the person that comes on board

The most important aspect of any operation is personnel safety.

Correct ballasting is crucial to the strenght and stability of the ship. If you find
that the ballast and cargo plans are out of step you must call the chief officer
inmediately. Pollution has become a big issue in many areas of the world. In
bunkering procedures the chief engineer may be in charge but the officer of the
watch must keep in close contact with the bunkering team throughout the
operation. He must ensure that all steps to avoid and minimize spills are being
taken. Informing the terminals or the local authorities will be one of the first
steps in the plan. Any cargo spills can lead into pollution. In addition, many ports
are sensitive about air pollution from the funnel and cargo dust. Noise pollution
from shipping machines and pollution form organisms in ballast waters can also
cause problems, and this is not a complete list. These topics need to be
adrressed in the management meetings prior to the discharge and passed on to
the officer of the watch. It is vital to the deck department to be aware of the
rules, regulations, and sensitivities of each port. Watch out for any pollution in
the water that is not due to your ship, but might be blamed on you. Keep an eye
on the water around the ship and report to the terminal if you see any pollution.
Important tasks of the watchkeeping officer in port
- Make sure that the access is safe: keep a gangway watch at all times,
during daylight and darkness. Many different groups of people will like to come
on board: agents, customs and immigrations officers, superintendents, relief
officers and crew, family and friends, ships chandlers, inspectors, salesmen;
and then there are other visitors you do not want such as stowaway, thiefs, and
prostitutes. You cannot leave the security up to the terminal. It is excelent in
some ports, and non existant in others. Even where security has been good,
that does not guarantee that it will be good on this visit.

- Keep unused areas locked and inspect cargo holds: Stowaways have
become a big problem for ship in recent years. Repatriating them is extremely
expensive, and often, the ship owner has to pay.
- Always be polite to anyone, with the respect that everyone deserves: The
officer of the watch has the right to ask anyone they see on the ship what are
they doing. You need to keep away those people you do not want on board but
also take care of those you do want. You must ensure that all the stevedores
are aware of every hazarodus materials or special circunstances that present a
- Fire prevention is another task of the watchkeeping officer: He needs to
keep an eye in all work being carried out in the ship to ensure that all risks are
kept to the minimum to avoid or reduce the potential risk of fire. If there is work
in enclosed spaces or welding operations, then the officer of the watch must
ensure that the permission to work has been kept, and all the safety procedures
are being taken.
- Keep walkways and gangways clear of obstructions: Precautions should
be taken so the visitors will not trip, slip or fall.
- Keep good records in the deck log: If the things go wrong make sure that
you have a good record of whats happened, so you can give to your owner
evidence to protect themselves against claims. Always inform the master of any
incident. Treat anyone with the respect they deserve. Inmmediate politeness
and concerns can help avoid legal actions. Record the facts instead of your
opinios, it may take years before the incident comes to court and memories are
fragile. Whatever happens, it is vital to keep good records, not just the accidents
but every event needs to be recorded in the deck log. The company manuals
and masters standing orders will have listed all the information that needs to be
recorded. This will include: ships draft, tidal changes, any testing of cargo
systems, details of cargo operations, details of ballasting, notification of security
arrangements, and weather conditions.
It demonstrates that the officer has paid atenttion to anything that is occurred on
board. Note every relevant event and action in the deck log.
- Keep good maintenance of the garbage log: There is a legal requirement to
record the time, quantity, and type of every discharge of garbage.
- Sign documents: As officer of the watch you will be asked to sign various
documents by the shore personnel. Before you sign, read the document. Be
sure you understand it and that it is correct. If you are uncertain, get the chief
officer or master to look at the document before you sign.
- Get to the watch handover point with plenty of time, and have a good
look of the deck log.
- Make sure what cargo and ballast operations can be expected during the

- Make sure that you know who is on board.

- Check and be aware that you know everything that is happening on
- Make sure you know about any special port regulations, know what to do
and how to contact the emergency services in the case of any incident.
- Do not wait for problems to develop and then been reported to you: you
should actively seek out situations where things might go wrong and act to stop
them. This means spending a lot of time on deck and talking to the shore
Deck Officers priorities:
- Personnel safety
- Safety and security of the ship
- Safety and effective handling of the cargo
The responsibilites include: the preventions of accidents, supervision of
cargo operations and ballasting, fire prevention, mooring lines monitoring and
adjusting, pollution prevention, providing security against thiefs and stowaways,
Be a good seafarer, with a good commercial awarennes: in other words, an
appreciation of the commercials implications of carrying cargo and the service
expected by the customer. Understanding this should help you to make the right
decision if things start to go wrong. Good deck officer watch keeping in port can
really help a ship turn efficiently.