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Gard Guidance Masters


The Company should have standing instructions for the operation of the vessel, which must be followed by the Master. These would normally be set out in the Safety Management Manual or the Procedure and Instruction Manual of the Safety Management System (SMS). Any deviation from these instructions and/or orders should be recorded in writing, providing the reason for the deviation and the date and time the Company was notified of this deviation. The Master and the officers should bear in mind that an unreasonable deviation from, or non-compliance with the written procedures may have serious consequences, not only for the company but also for the individual concerned, particularly if it involves an accident or incident.

If the Master is to take over the command of a vessel, he/she should familiarise himself with the company sms, SSP and any other standing instructions prior to assuming full command.

The Master should be fully familiar with

  • the Company’s documented SMS
  • the lines of communication and responsibilities
  • any particularities of the vessel’s SMS
  • the documented Ship Security Plan (SSP), and
  • the lines of communication under the SSP.

    Where there is no legal requirement for a SMS or a SSP, there should be operating and security standards of at least the same level of operation in place.

    The vessel’s SMS must be strictly adhered to. If non-conformities can be established by third parties, e.g. claimants or authorities, the Company and the insurers may be exposed to potential liabilities and criticism of their actions.