By Shilavadra Bhattacharjee
Being a deck officer of a ship involves myriad responsibilities that are spread across the different aspects of the vessel’s operation. It is a challenging job wherein the responsible person has to ensure that the ship is navigating safely on the correct path and complying with all the navigational rules i.e. Rules of the Road (ROR). Not only is the safe navigation the prime responsibility but it’s documentation also holds equal importance to lend credibility as well as accountability to the task being executed.It can be said that as far as the navigation of the ship is concerned, the safety of the ship’s staff is solely in the hands of navigating deck officer (also termed the Officer Of The Watch) and the assistance rendered in carrying out his duties by another crew member on the bridge. An agile watch by these people ensures that the ship is never in an emergency situation such as collision, grounding etc. that exposes the vessel to damage and liabilities.Utmost safety can be ensured by following the rules and regulations of the sea, company checklist and last but not the least, filling out the deck log book which keeps the record of the situations tackled by the ship while at sea.Accountability for shipboard operations are of umpteen importance; in that, the tasks that are carried out as well as the existing conditions they are carried out under have to be recorded in order to have a formal/official document supporting the efficiency and reasoning behind the job that has been undertaken. In case of an unfortunate incident, it is this record that lends credibility to claims and thereby ensures that the competency of the officer recording the incident can be measured and a judgment reached accordingly. It is for this reason that pretty much every task for every department has to have to have some record in some log book. The Deck Log Book, therefore, is a prime piece of document that has in its record all actions that are undertaken in the bridge.The log book used to record various data, scenario, and situations (including emergency situation and action) which are later used for reference, case study and for insurance purpose in case of damage to the ship or loss of ship’s property should be properly filled without any errors. It is because of this that one must be entirely sure of the entry that is to be made in the deck log book before making such an entry. Supplementary logs are thereby kept in a place which requires data to be recorded prior to making an official entry into the logbook. For example, the position is entered along with the heading, speed etc in the chart/position logbook which is then used to make an official entry into the bridge log book towards the end of the watch.Following are the entries which must be filled up by the Deck officer during his/her watch:The position of the ship in Latitude and Longitude at different intervals.Time to be noted when Navigation marks are passedTime, details and reason if there is any course alterationMeteorological and weather conditions including details of sea, swell etc along with the Beaufort scale that is prevalentMovement of the ship at sea including rolling, pitching, heaving etcDetails of any abnormal conditionSpeed of the propulsion engine and speed of the ship in knotsIf involved in any kind of accidents like stranding, grounding etc. then details for the same.Entry to be made if any physical contact with floating object or vessel is madeDetails of the distress signal receivedEntry for what kind of assistance is given to the distress signal senderIf salvage operation is performed, complete details to be enteredIf there is an oil spill or other pollution accident, position of the ship, time and complete incident to be recordedRecord of general watch routines performed including fire watchTime of arrival and departure and ETA.If berthing or anchoring is planned, time for the same to be noted.Heading and Compass errorDrills and training carried out as well as inspections with regard to stowaways and security related measuresRecord of stores, fresh water etc receivedAlso, any other entries as required by master, company, and administration should also be recorded in the log book without fail.Additionally, An original page should never be removed from the Log Book. This is because the Deck Log Book is used as official evidence in case of an unfortunate event
Only official designations and symbols to be used
If there is insufficient space in the Remarks section, insert a gummed paper strip instead of making the log book clumsy. This shouldn’t be necessary as there is ideal space to record everything in precise language
Remember that the log book entry carries the OOW’s signature which means that the OOW is responsible for all that is recorded by him which is a mark of his competency and accuracy of the data that is entered.