Short Notes on Watchkeeping under Different Weather Conditions

Bridge Equipment and Watchkeeping Function I LinkinBio Nautical Watchkeeping

Bridge Watchkeeping under Different Weather Conditions

Table of Content:

Watchkeeping during Clear Weather/ Visibility/ Open Seas

  • Take frequent and accurate compass bearings of approaching ships to check the risk of collision.
  • Take early and positive action in compliance with COLREGS and also check that such action is having the desired effect.
  • In clear weather, whenever possible, the Officer on Watch shall carry out radar practice.
  • In open seas, there may be minimal or no traffic at all. But that does not mean that a lookout shall be compromised at any cost.
  • For night navigation, arrive on Bridge well before taking over the watch so that eye vision is adjusted. Also, lower the brilliance on all equipment so as to have minimum light on the bridge.

Watchkeeping during Restricted visibility

  • When restricted visibility is encountered or expected, the first responsibility of OOW is to comply with relevant rules of COLREGS with particular regard to sounding of fog signals, proceeding at a safe speed & having engines ready for immediate maneuver.
  • In addition, the OOW shall inform the master, post a proper lookout, additional lookout, exhibit navigation lights & make good use of the RADAR.
  • Hand steering may be used for better control and for large alterations.
  • Work on deck should be restricted to absolute necessity, especially if the work generates noise.

Watchkeeping during Coastal and Congested/ Restricted Waters Navigation

  • The bridge should be suitably manned as per the prevailing situation.
  • The largest scale chart on board, suitable and corrected, shall be used.
  • Fixes shall be taken at frequent intervals and shall be carried out by more than one method whenever circumstances allow.
  • As far as possible, floating buoys should be avoided. At least three targets shall be selected to fix the position i.e. three bearings or three ranges or combination of these.
  • The OOW shall positively identify all relevant navigation marks. During day time, the color and physical characteristics of navigational marks must be compared to that on the chart and during night time, the color of the light and its characteristics such as flashes.
  • Mandatory Reporting to VTS or other stations as required must be known and carried out correctly.
  • The second steering motor must be switched on for better steering capability.
  • Engine room must be manned and engines must be in maneuvering condition and engine control must be switched over to ECR.
  • Additional lookout or an additional officer may be called by the Master if the situation requires.

Watchkeeping when Ship at Anchor

  • A continuous navigational watch shall be maintained at anchor.
  • While at anchor, the OOW shall determine and plot the ship’s position on the appropriate chart, and check at sufficiently frequent intervals whether the ship is remaining securely at anchor by taking bearings of fixed navigation marks or readily identifiable shore objects.
  • Upon dropping anchor, the OOW must note down the position, direction of the ship’s head, depth of water, draft, etc. Thereafter, the OOW must complete the Anchor log and Deck Log every watch.
  • The OOW must ensure that proper lookout is maintained to check the movements of other vessels passing by or intending to anchor too close to your own vessel.
  • Inspection rounds of the ship must be made periodically especially to check the cable leads. Anti-piracy measures must be taken as per Master’s orders.
  • Vessel’s swinging circle must be plotted to monitor possible changes in the vessel’s position and ensure that vessel is swinging clear of all obstructions.
  • The OOW must observe meteorological and tidal conditions and the state of the sea and notify the master if the ship drags anchor. He must also alert the Anchor party and Engine Room immediately.
  • The OOW must ensure the state of readiness of the main engines is in accordance with the master’s instructions.
  • If visibility or weather deteriorates, the OOW must notify the master.
  • Appropriate lights, shapes, and sound signals should be made as required.

Watchkeeping during navigation with a Pilot on board

  • Despite the duties and obligations of pilots, their presence on board does
  • not relieve the master or the OOW from their duties and obligations for the safety of the ship.
  • The master and the pilot shall exchange information regarding navigation procedures, local conditions, and the ship’s characteristics.
  • The master and OOW shall co-operate closely with the pilot and maintain an accurate check on the ship’s position and movement. If in any doubt as to the pilot’s actions or intentions, the OOW shall seek clarification from the pilot and, if doubt still exists, shall notify the master immediately and take whatever action is necessary before the master arrives.
  • When approaching the pilot station, the OOW must call the Master in good time. The OOW must switch over steering to manual mode and give notice to Engines and keep it ready for maneuvering.
  • The OOW must make contact with Pilot station and ensure Pilot transfer arrangements are made as per SOLAS.
  • The Master-Pilot information exchange must be carried out and form duly signed by both Master and the Pilot. The Pilot card must be presented to the Pilot and all relevant information exchanged.
  • Appropriate heavy weather precautions must be taken when the vessel is encountering rough weather. A heavy weather checklist may be used.
  • Adjust the vessel’s course and speed in order to minimize the rolling and/or pitching of the vessel.
  • Check the weather forecast and carry out weather routing as required.
  • Give a wider berth to all passing traffic and post extra lookout if necessary.
  • Adjust the anti-sea clutter settings on the radar as required.
  • Switch to hand steering if the autopilot is not able to maintain the desired course.
  • Ensure watertight doors, skylights and other openings on deck such as vents, sounding pipes, air pipes, etc. are closed.
  • Ensure anchors are secured with brakes tight, Spurling pipe cemented and bow stopper well secured in place. Use extra lashings if necessary.
  • Check cargo lashings regularly and ensure the weather tightness of cargo holds.
  • Check vessel stability and take steps to minimize the Free Surface Effect.
  • Ensure accommodation ladders, cranes, and derricks are well secured.
  • Ensure there is no loose item on deck. Rig lifelines on deck if required.