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Collisions and groundings (strandings), combined account for one half of all tanker accidents. More than 80% of these cases are a result of human error and where an equipment failure is involved, the mechanical fault is nearly always compounded by human omission. The navigation of a tanker is almost entirely in the hands of three or four officers. Their success in bringing the ship safely to its discharge port is to a large measure the result of the policies and practices of the owner and master.

4.1.1 Owner's responsibility
Owners are responsible for establishing and maintaining the human standards of the crew by maintaining an adequate manning level and by providing seafarers who are properly educated, trained and experienced to competently perform their duties. The control of national shipping authorities and classification societies remains strongest in the area of construction and weakest in the area of the human element. An owner should not believe that having met the minimum requirements of national shipping authority, his ship is adequately manned. Unless he takes a direct and detailed interest in the training and qualifications of the men operating his vessel, an owner cannot hope to minimise the kinds of incidents which can be caused by their failings.

4.1.2 Basic requirements - IMO guidance
The ship must be provided with a set of basic navigation orders. These orders should be read by every watch officer before taking his first navigation watch of the voyage. If the owner has not provided navigation 'standing orders', the master should do so. A good place to start is the IMO Operational guidance for officers in charge of a navigation watch from the International convention on standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers, 1978. In most cases these IMO guidelines can serve without modification as standing orders. They are repeated here for ease of reference:

1 This recommendation contains operational guidance of general application for officers in charge of a navigation watch, which masters are expected to supplement as appropriate. It is essential that officers of the watch appreciate that the efficient performance of their duties is necessary in the interests of the safety of life and property at sea and the prevention of pollution of the marine environment.

2 The officer of the watch is the master's representative and his primary responsibility at all times is the safe navigation of the ship. He should at all times comply with the applicable regulations for preventing collisions at sea (see also paragraphs 22 and 23).
3 It is of special importance that at all times the officer of the watch ensures that an efficient look-out is maintained. In a ship with a separate chart room the officer of the watch may visit the chart room, when essential, for a short period for the necessary performance of his navigational duties, but he should previously satisfy himself that it is safe to do so and ensure that an efficient lookout is maintained.
4 The officer of the watch should bear in mind that the engines are at his disposal and he should not hesitate to use them in case of need. However, timely notice of intended variations of engine speed should be given where possible. He should also know the handling characteristics of his ship, including its stopping distance, and should appreciate that other ships may have different handling characteristics.
5 The officer of the watch should also bear in mind that the sound signalling apparatus is at his disposal and he should not hesitate to use it in accordance with the applicable regulations for preventing collisions at sea.

Taking over the navigational watch
6 The relieving officer of the watch should ensure that members of his watch are fully capable of performing their duties, particularly as regards their adjustment to night vision.

7 The relieving officer should not take over the watch until his vision is fully adjusted to the light conditions and he has personally satisfied himself regarding:
• Standing orders and other special instructions of the master relating to navigation of the ship.
• Position, course, speed and draught of the ship.
• Prevailing and predicted tides, currents, weather, visibility and the effect of these factors upon the course and speed.
• Navigational situation, including but not limited to the following:
     • Operational condition of all navigational and safety equipment being used or likely to be used during the watch.
     • Errors in gyro and magnetic compasses.
     • Presence and movement of ships in sight or known to be in the vicinity.
     • Conditions and hazards likely to be encountered during his watch.
     • Possible effects of heel, trim, water density and squat on under-keel clearance.
8 If at any time the officer of the watch is to be relieved while a manoeuvre or other action to avoid hazard is taking place, the relief of the officer should be deferred until such action has been completed.

Periodic checks of navigational equipment
9 Operational tests of shipboard navigational equipment should be carried out at sea as frequently as practicable and as circumstances permit, in particular when hazardous conditions affecting navigation are expected; where appropriate these tests should be recorded.
10 The officer of the watch should make regular checks to ensure that:
• The helmsman or the automatic pilot is steering the correct course.
• The standard compass error is determined at least once a watch and when possible, after any major alteration of course; the standard and gyro-compasses are frequently compared and repeaters are synchronised with their master compass.
• The automatic pilot is tested manually at least once a watch.
• The navigation signal lights and other navigational equipment are functioning properly.

Automatic pilot
11 The officer of the watch should bear in mind the necessity to comply at all times with the requirements of regulation 19, chapter V of the International convention for the safety of life at sea (SOLAS), 1974. He should take into account the need to station the helmsman and to put the steering in manual control in good time to allow any potentially hazardous situation to be dealt with in a safe manner. With a ship under automatic steering it is highly dangerous to allow a situation to develop to the point where the officer of the watch is without assistance and has to break the continuity of the look-out in order to take emergency action. The change-over from automatic to manual steering and vice-versa should be made by, or under the supervision of, a responsible officer and recorded in the deck logbook.

Electronic navigational aids
12 The officer of the watch should be thoroughly familiar with the use of the electronic navigational aids carried, including their capabilities and limitations.
13 The echo-sounder is a valuable navigational aid and should be used whenever appropriate

14 The officer of the watch should use the radar when appropriate and whenever restricted visibility is encountered or expected, and at all times in congested waters having due regard to
its limitations.
15 Whenever radar is in use, the officer of the watch should select an appropriate range scale, observe the display carefully and plot effectively.
16 The officer of the watch should ensure that range scales employed are changed at sufficiently frequent intervals so that echoes are detected as early as possible.
17 It should be borne in mind that small or poor echoes may escape detection.
18 The officer of the watch should ensure that plotting or systematic analysis is commenced in ample time.
19 In clear weather, whenever possible, the officer of the watch should carry out radar practice.

Navigation in coastal waters
20 The largest scale chart on board, suitable for the area and corrected with the latest available information, should be used. Fixes should be taken at frequent intervals; whenever circumstances allow, fixing should be carried out by more than one method.
21 The officer of the watch should positively identify all relevant navigation marks.

Clear weather
22 The officer of the watch should take frequent and accurate compass bearings of approaching ships as a means of early detection of risk of collision; such risk may sometimes exist even when an appreciable bearing change is evident, particularly when approaching a very large ship or a tow or when approaching a ship at close range. He should also take early and positive action in compliance with the applicable regulations for preventing collisions at sea and subsequently check that such action is having the desired effect.

Restricted visibility
23 When restricted visibility is encountered or expected, the first responsibility of the officer of the watch is to comply with the relevant rules of the applicable regulations for preventing collisions at sea, with particular regard to the sounding of fog signals, proceeding at a safe speed and having the engines ready for immediate manoeuvres. In addition, he should:
• Inform the master (see paragraph 24).
• Post a proper look-out and helmsman and, in congested waters, revert to hand steering immediately.
• Exhibit navigation lights.
• Operate and use the radar.
It is important that the officer of the watch should know the handling characteristics of his ship, including its stopping distance and should appreciate that other ships may have different handling characteristics.

Calling the master
24 The officer of the watch should notify the master immediately in the following circumstances:
• If restricted visibility is encountered or expected.
• If the traffic conditions or the movements of other ships are causing concern.
• If any difficulty is experienced in maintaining course.
• On failure to sight land, a navigation mark or to obtain soundings by the expected time.
• If, unexpectedly, land or a navigation mark is sighted or change in soundings occurs.
• On the breakdown of the engines, steering gear or any essential navigational equipment.
• In heavy weather if in any doubt about the possibility of weather damage.
• If the ship meets any hazard to navigation, such as ice or derelicts.
• In any other emergency or situation in which he is in any doubt.
Despite the requirements to notify the master immediately in the foregoing circumstances, the officer of the watch should in addition not hesitate to take immediate action for the safety of the ship, where circumstances so require.

Navigation with pilot embarked
25 If the officer of the watch is in any doubt as to the pilot's actions or intentions, he should seek clarification from the pilot; if doubt still exists, he should notify the master immediately and take whatever action is necessary before the master arrives.

Watchkeeping personnel
26 The officer of the watch should give watchkeeping personnel all appropriate instructions and information which will ensure the keeping of a safe watch including the appropriate lookout.

Ship at anchor
27 If the master considers it necessary, a continuous navigational watch should be maintained at anchor. In all circumstances, while at anchor, the officer of the watch should:
• Determine and plot the ship's position on the appropriate chart as soon as practicable; when circumstances permit, check at sufficiently frequent intervals whether the ship is remaining securely at anchor by taking bearings of fixed navigation marks or readily identifiable shore objects;
• Ensure that an efficient look-out is maintained;
• Ensure that inspection rounds of the ship are made periodically;
• Observe meteorological and tidal conditions and the state of the sea;
• Notify the master and undertake all necessary measures if the ship drags anchor.
• Ensure the state of readiness of the main engines and other machinery in accordance with the master's instructions.
• If visibility deteriorates, notify the master and comply with the applicable regulations for preventing collisions at sea.
• Ensure that the ship exhibits the appropriate lights and shapes and that appropriate sound signals are made at all times, as required.
• Take measures to protect the environment from pollution by the ship and comply with applicable pollution regulations.'
If the above IMO STCW guidelines are regularly and diligently observed, the ship will have a better opportunity than most of safely reaching port.

4.1.3 Bridge watch organization
(Refer to section 1.9.4 for additional direction on this subject.)

4.1.4 Lookout
The lookout must be clearly instructed in his duties and be sufficiently alert, competent and clothed to perform them. No other duties should be assigned to the lookout. He must maintain a vigilant watch by sight and hearing for anything unusual or hazardous to the ship, including vessels, aircraft in distress, wrecks, persons, debris, discoloured water, or sounds. The helmsman cannot be a lookout while hand steering. The lookout should be located as low down and as far forward as the prevailing weather permits.

4.1.5 Collision avoidance
In suitable weather the deck watch officer may be the only lookout. With only one pair of eyes protecting the ship, the officer must be especially vigilant. Maintaining a good, all-around lookout is the most important contribution to avoiding collisions. Other important collision prevention measures include:
• Taking early and substantial action when required to do so to avoid another vessel.
• Using every available means to determine if risk of collision exists
• Carefully evaluating all aspects of the situation before taking action.
• Slowing or stopping the ship if necessary to reduce risk of collision.

The automatic radar plotting aid (ARPA), should be used to maximum potential in assessing risk of collision and evaluating alternative evasive measures, however, the indications of the ARPA should be verified whenever possible by plotting or by visual bearings. Plotting should begin as soon as targets appear on the radar display.

4.1.6 Reduced visibility
When reduced visibility is encountered, the watch officer must immediately take the actions required by COLREGS 1972, owner's procedures and master's standing orders. Additional precautions may include:
• Verification that navigation lights are on.
• The depth sounder is placed in operation.
• Safety doors are closed.
• Personnel are withdrawn from and prohibited from entering confined spaces.
• Anchors are prepared for letting go (if water depth permits).
Only fog signals are sounded unless and until another vessel is sighted.

4.1.7 Navigation
The vessel's position should be fixed hourly, using two independent means of obtaining the position or line(s) of position (LOP). If the fix is by LOP, then at least three lines must be used, officers should take advantage of appropriate opportunities to make celestial observations and plot the resulting lines of position.
Parallel indexing on the radar plotter should be used with suitable shore radar targets to provide an accurate indication of the vessel's track along a coast. The parallel indexed track should be verified by cross bearings whenever possible. Best use should be made of the fathometer to verify position fixes.
The master must regularly verify and firmly enforce the owner's requirements for frequency and method of position fixing.

4.1.8 Log book entries
While under way, deck log book entries should include (but are not limited to):
• Movements of the vessel in the sea, rolling, pitching, etc.
• Weather observations and significant changes in the weather.
• Details of abnormal events or conditions.
• Time navigation marks passed abeam and distance off.
• Courses steered and time of alterations in course.
• Details of any accidents in navigation such as strandings.*
• Details of any physical contact with other floating objects or vessels.*
• Details of any salvage rendered, offered, or received.*
• Deviations from the voyage plan and reasons therefore.
• Distress messages or signals received, assistance given, or reasons why assistance was not given.*
• Any other event which may result in an investigation by authorities.*
• Times of arrivals, departures, anchoring, mooring, or berthing.
• Record of fire watch checks and inspections made.
• Sighting of passing aircraft, with their characteristics and approximate courses.

Entries marked with a star (*), should be prepared in draft and discussed with the master before the logbook entry is made.

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