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Gard Guidance Masters


The Master should create a working environment on board that emphasises teamwork with his/her deck and engine officers on whom he/she will depend heavily in ensuring safety and security on board the vessel. Key elements of teamwork are good communication and clear allocation of responsibilities. Well informed officers are better motivated and able to carry out their duties effectively.

Due to the composition of a crew with different nationalities and religions, the Master should be aware that thoughtfulness is required where crews of different religions and cultures are required to work in a team.

When the Master allocates certain responsibilities to an officer, the Master should not only be confident that the officer is able to carry out such tasks, but should also ensure that the officer has clearly understood his/her allocated duties.

Teamwork is not to be understood as a simple delegation of tasks and duties to exempt the Master from his/her own responsibilities. Teamwork involves leadership and its effect needs to be explained and relevant training be provided to ensure that every team member understands his/her individual role within the team.

To ensure that the team works efficiently the Master must exercise leadership skills and encourage each crew member to take responsibility for their own safety as well as that of their shipmates and the vessel generally. The investigations of accidents have shown that in many cases crew members suspected that something was wrong but did not dare to tell the Master, pilot or duty officer. Comments or questions from crew members should therefore be listened to sympathetically and be taken seriously.
The crew is, potentially, an important safety net for the officers if they at any point make the wrong decision or overlook important information.

Regular shipboard management meetings will assist the Master in achieving the best use of the entire ship’s team. Any remarks, observations and reported non-conformities should be taken seriously and duly recorded in the vessel’s documents. Corrective action should be taken immediately to ensure that the validity of the vessel’s Safety Management Certificate (SMC) is not jeopardised.

Likewise, any remarks, observations, reasoned suspicions and reported non-conformities need to be rectified immediately under the vessel’s Ship Security Plan to remain compliant with the requirements of the ISPS Code.

People appreciate praise and rewards for good performance. Where possible and appropriate, the Master should praise individual crew members in the presence of other crew members. Such practice will help the Master maintain morale and motivate the crew!

For more information about Bridge Resource Management please see section 2.13.4 Navigation in confined waters – Bridge Resource Management.