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The proper planning of watchkeeping by the Master must take into account

  • trading area of the vessel
  • turnaround schedule of the vessel
  • workload of the individual officers
  • weather conditions en route
  • navigational hazards en route requiring additional navigational duties
  • design and layout of the navigational instruments including the automatic steering.

    The Master and the responsible OOW must ensure that every watchkeeper is sufficiently rested prior to taking over a navigational watch to prevent fatigue. The mandatory rest times required by the Code and Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW 95) must be strictly observed. If these requirements cannot be met, procedures must be in place to ensure that the vessel remains in a place of safety, which may require delaying the vessel’s departure.

    After commencement of the voyage the Master should ensure that every officer performs his/her watchkeeping duties and obligations with the utmost care and foresight. Careful preparation of the watch is essential, particularly when approaching confined waters or when manoeuvres such as embarkation of pilots are expected.

    The Master should not hesitate to

  • frequently check the performance of his/her officers
  • alert the officers to omissions or non-conformities and require corrective action to be taken.

    Any indication of alcohol abuse, intoxication and fatigue should not be tolerated and corrective action must be taken immediately.

    The Master needs to ensure together with the Chief Engineer, that a proper engine watchkeeping is maintained on non-automated vessels. This also applies to periods of ‘stand by engine’ on unmanned machinery space vessels (UMS).