Which procedures should be followed during watchkeeping at anchorage?

asked 07 Sep, 08:05

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Each company has all watchkeeping scenarios described and governed in the Company's manual. Strictly follow the company's guidelines along with Master's Standing and Night orders.
Below is commonly followed procedures based on experience:

  1. Calculate the Swinging Circle
    Swinging Circle (M) = L.O.A + Length of Cable – UKC
    The swinging circle might vary with the changes in tidal levels and in weather. However, it is important to have a fair idea of the radius around which the ship might move about. Knowing the swinging circle of the anchor is very important so as we know when the anchor is dragging.
  2. Follow the Master’s Standing Orders
    Every ship’s master writes their own standing orders based on the ship, the experience of its officers, the trade patterns which in turn determine the standing orders. These orders reflect the Master’s requirements based on past experiences with the ship and his contemporary workforce, therefore making it imperative that the orders are followed to prevent any anomaly or to maintain a set grade of performance. Clearly, the master puts faith in the officer when saying “Call me if in doubt” and expects the officer to do so if required and in ample time.
  3. Keep a Check on own Ship and other Ships in the Vicinity Keep a close watch on the ship and other ships in the vicinity to avoid danger if they start dragging after anchoring. Dragging might occur due to changes in tidal levels, changes in weather or due to the brake giving away to a lot of yawing. The danger here is primarily to ensure that own vessel does not drag and also to double check if there are other vessels drifting towards the vessel. Use the bow stopper when at anchor to minimize any probability of a blunder.
  4. Keep a Constant Check on the Ship’s position.
    This point is generally laid down in the Master’s Standing Orders and almost always mentions the intervals at which the position must be plotted on the chart. Use the GPS or the Radar or both to determine the exact position of the ship, which, very obviously, helps to determine if the ship is stationary or dragging. If ship’s anchor is dragging then we would be able to get an idea from the following ways:
  5. RADAR by seeing the heading and Course Over Ground Vector in opposite directions and where we have bigger than normal vector for course over ground.
  6. Appreciable change in bearing of a fixed land object.
  7. Ship outside the swinging circle.
  8. Display Appropriate Lights
    This enables other vessels to know that vessel is anchored, therefore making it evident that they should not anchor too close to the vessel and also give them an indication of proximity if dragging occurs.
  9. Keep a Constant VHF watch
    If slated to receive a pilot on board or for information on vessels in the area, it is very important to keep a constant VHF watch. The coast authorities generally promulgate extremely useful information that might be integral to the safety of the vessel. Wreckages, vessel information, ETA to pilot etc are necessary data that optimize operational procedures.
  10. Alert Nearby Vessels When Required
    If another vessel seems to be coming close to own vessel, get their attention on the VHF or by flashing the Aldis lamp. Use any available means at the time to bring to their attention regarding the grave nature of the situation and avert any danger that may be impending.
  11. Take Compass Errors
    Compass errors should be regularly taken once every watch so as we know the deviation and hence can navigate the ship to safety in case of gyro failure.
  12. Monitor UKC
    Under keel clearance should be regularly monitored by looking the UKC in the echo sounder. Proper range should be selected in the Echo Sounder to get the best results.
  13. Conduct frequently rounds on Bridge wings Frequent rounds on the bridge wings should be taken by the Officer of the Watch to check:
  14. Looking over the side that no oil is being pumped out from the ship.
  15. Pilot Boat if expected.
  16. Unauthorized boats that try to come alongside.

  17. Watchkeeping at anchorage might seem to be an easy task, for there is barely any movement. However, the very fact that the vessel is halted makes it vulnerable to a variety of dangers. As is done usually, the OOW must be vigilant at all times and use the assistance of additional lookouts if necessary.

  18. In areas prone to piracy, the importance of alertness cannot be stressed on more. The ship being stationery makes it open to attacks and pilferage. And very little can be left to the imagination in case the pirates attempt to board the vessel when it is anchored.
  19. Responsibility and diligence in the part of the OOW will keep the vessel safe and away from harm. That is to say that the OOW should basically just do what he does on an everyday basis.
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answered 07 Sep, 08:21

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