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The chief officer is required to demonstrate a higher level of training, experience and competence than the junior deck officers. The examination requirements for the license are more numerous and detailed and the list of duties which his added knowledge must address is considerably longer. Some have described the job as a purgatory to be endured in order to merit the paradise of command at some future time. For the professional officer who is dedicated to his job, this should not be the case. It can be a time of strong professional development and great personal satisfaction. But the chief officer can certainly count on getting less sleep than he did as a second or third officer!

1.2.1 Cargo duties
The most demanding responsibility of the chief officer is oversight of all cargo operations. This includes cargo planning, tank preparation, loading, care, discharging, measurement, sampling and reporting responsibilities. Plans prepared for loading cargo are reviewed with the master to insure fullest compliance with company policies and best use of the particular arrangements of the ship's tanks, pumps and pipelines. Tank preparation procedures should be carefully planned with the help of the pumpman. The pumpman will, in many cases, have more experience on the ship than the chief officer. Full, written instructions for all loading, discharging and sampling operations must be prepared and carefully discussed with the junior officers. As each junior officer assumes his cargo watch, he should be closely questioned by the chief officer to verify that he fully understands what is required of him for the next four to six hours. Of course, the most important thing that is required of any junior officer is that he calls the chief officer whenever he is in doubt!
Despite the assistance available to him in each area of his duties, the chief officer remains the person responsible for the safe carriage of the cargo. He must develop the ability to know when and where his personal attention is needed to ensure safe cargo operations, so that he is both available when needed and sufficiently rested throughout. With some product values as high as $10 per US gallon, this is a considerable burden. In most cases, it means that the chief officer must remain on board throughout the loading or discharging operation. If he needs to go ashore during any cargo operation, the chief officer must advise the master of his intentions and ensure that the master will remain on board until he returns.

1.2.2 Maintenance
Part of the cargo responsibilities of the chief officer is maintenance of the ship's cargo tanks, piping and pumps. This is principally an inspection requirement, since the deck department has limited resources to repair any significant defects noted. Working closely with the chief engineer, the chief officer insures that regular inspections of cargo tank structure, coatings and cleanliness are made. He is responsible for inspecting/testing tanks and all associated piping for leaks. When defects are discovered, temporary corrective measures (clamping/patching) are taken and a defect report is sent to the owner's technical manager requesting early permanent repair.
Coatings maintenance of the hull and much of the deck equipment is supervised by the chief officer. His objectives in this area are to insure that the work is done safely and that the results are durable. Proper de-scaling and re-coating procedures, completed in accordance with the owner's paint schedule, insures that the ship's structure is properly protected against corrosion and that the owner gets full value for the money paid for this work. Improperly conducted coating maintenance, which produces only a temporary cosmetic improvement (painting over rust or improperly prepared surfaces), is the same as throwing the owner's paint overboard. Cosmetic paint applications conceal defects and create unsafe working conditions, as seen by lost ship bows, lost side plating, etc., in the most notorious cases.
Coatings maintenance is an activity where quality of work is more important than quantity of square footage covered. Quantity is maximised by careful planning of the maintenance program and care of the maintenance equipment.
Maintenance performed is recorded in the deck logbook and in the deck maintenance book or computer record.

1.2.3 Navigation
The chief officer shares responsibility for the safe navigation of the ship when standing a navigation watch underway. Because of his experience and as part of his development, he may be asked by the master to participate in the voyage planning. In many cases he is assigned to the 4 to 8 watch, on which celestial navigation should continue to be practiced as part of the navigator's art. Since he follows another officer on the navigation watch, he should review and advise that officer concerning navigation practices and may find it necessary to bring to the attention of the master any significant errors or omissions which he believes would endanger the safety of the vessel.
Because of his many other duties and perhaps because of the familiarity of long experience, the chief officer may be tempted to take a casual attitude toward his navigation duties. This should never be the case. The 4 to 8 watch is not a time to catch up on deck department paperwork. No single cause of ship collisions and groundings exceeds in frequency that of failing to maintain a proper all-around lookout. A lookout cannot be properly maintained while the watch officer's nose is buried in the deck department overtime file. This should also be a caution to shipowners who are tempted to require yet another report from the chief officer in the hope of further cost reductions. If he spends part of his navigation watch completing the new report, the result of not keeping a proper lookout may be an accident which exceeds in cost any savings the report would have produced for the next hundred years!

1.2.4 Training
Every intelligent manager of a company's resources seeks areas of effort and time that will produce the greatest result for his employers. Considering that between 70% and 80% of tanker incidents, accidents and casualties are due to human error, it would seem that the area where a chief officer can have the greatest effect on the safety and productivity of his ship is by improving the competence of the crew. In 1978 the Netherlands Maritime Institute published a report on Sub standard tankers(1). Section seven of that report compared the yearly casualties of a 37-ship independently-owned fleet with that of an oil company fleet of the same size. The thirty-seven independently owned ships experienced 29 days lost time each per year, compared with a combined total of twenty days lost for all of the oil company ships. Considering that most of the independently owned vessels lost time was spent either under tow or undergoing repairs as a result of human error, it is hard to imagine that their owners would not consider making a significant investment in training.
Every accident or incident is an opportunity to improve the safety of the ship. Each incident provides a lesson to be learned, rather than a reason for discipline (though disciplinary action may be necessary). Accidents and incidents should be reviewed by management with the crew, seeking their suggestions for operational improvement. If appropriate, the persons involved in an incident should be part of the investigation team.
It is the duty of every chief officer to develop a crew which performs to their best ability through an established training program and effective leadership. Likewise, it is the duty of every ship owner/manager to insure that the ship's officers have available effective training materials and training aids to achieve this. Additional information on training is provided in section 4.14.

1.2.5 Pollution prevention
The chief officer's cargo duties make him a lead performer in reducing the vessel's environmental impact. Carelessness or neglect of proper tank washing procedures can lose half of the ship's clingage to the sea. This could be 400 tonnes of oil on a 200,000 DWT tanker. This oil will blanket the sea surface, interfering with oxygen exchange, the growth of marine life and recreational uses. Oil's toxic constituents can get into the food chain with unforeseen results. It is up to the chief officer to prevent unnecessary operational pollution.

(1) van Poelgeest, FM, Sub standard tankers, Rotterdam, Netherlands Maritime Institute, R 70, February 1978.
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