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Anchoring Operations & anchor watch check items- deck officers guideline

For the safety of the ship, strict anchor watches must be kept when the ship is at anchor. The principal reason for keeping anchor watches by one or more sailors is to maintain the safety and security of the vessel. Anchor watches to be maintained following the Masters's orders. This should include regular inspection of lead and weight on-chain. The safety of the vessel is upheld by ensuring that the anchor position is maintained, other vessels maintain their position, and observing traffic entering and leaving the anchorage. The security of the vessel is maintained by following the ISP's procedures for a vessel at anchor.

By keeping a proper watch especially during bad weather a ship can avoid the potential threat of dragging on to another ship or risk of running aground. The watch normally consists of an officer who takes frequent compass bearings of objects onshore to detect whether the ship is moving and a small party on the forecastle ready to watch and work the cable when needed. A dragging anchor can often also be detected by feeling the vibration in the cable; another sign is when the cable slackens and tautens alternately in a marked manner.

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In all circumstances, the Master's standing orders must be fully understood regarding anchor watches. Watch officers need to understand the night orders, if in any doubt ask the Master to clarify. The Master should be always available for help especially during adverse weather condition. If you are thinking about calling the Master then the time has come to call him. Do not hesitate.

anchoring practice
Fig:Anchoring practice

Comply with the “COLREGS” for a vessel at anchor. In daylight display a ball in the forepart. At night display an all-round white light in the forepart and a lower all-round white light at the stern. If the vessel is more than 100 meters long working lights must also be used to illuminate the deck. In poor visibility ring the bell rapidly for ten seconds every minute. If the vessel is more than 100 meters long sound the bell in the forepart of the vessel, immediately afterward sound the gong for about 5 seconds in the after part of the vessel.

Main engine

The main engine and additional auxiliary engines may have to be at constant readiness. If this is not the case the Chief Engineer will be advised of the notice period required. The amount of notice will be dependent upon:
  1. estimated time at anchor
  2. type of holding ground
  3. distance from shore or navigation hazard
  4. how the vessel is lying to the anchor
  5. present and forecast weather
  6. strength of the current or tidal stream
  7. position of other vessels
  8. main engine maintenance.

The machinery space may not always be manned. The OOW must have agreed on a contact method with the Duty Engineer.

Weather, tidal and sea conditions

Closely monitor the current weather. Inform the Master of any significant change. Confirm the time of weather forecasts from any local source and GMDSS equipment. Have tidal predictions readily available. Be aware of the height of the tide and the tidal range. Note if the vessel is lying to the wind or tidal stream.

Watch Assistants / Lookouts

A good lookout must be maintained when the vessel is at anchor. In addition to the OOW the Rating / Watch Assistant must keep a lookout reporting: Monitoring the position and movements of other vessels

A close watch on other vessels' positions and movements must be maintained. Use all available means, including visual, radar, and the AIS. In particular, utilize the radar facility to plot vessels which are close by.

Be aware that other vessels may not be keeping anchor watches. Whenever a vessel close by appears to be dragging or manoeuvring too close to your vessel:
Adverse weather conditions

Careful consideration must be given to either remaining at anchor or weighing anchor and proceeding to sea during adverse conditions. Whenever the decision is to remain at anchor it must be understood that a serious failure of the anchoring system could occur. Consider: During poor weather, the cable must be checked more frequently. Heavy seas and wind may make the vessel yaw and can cause the anchor to break out from its holding position. Crew members checking the cable should note if the weight on the cable is steady. Sudden changes in cable weight indicate that the vessel is dragging. If the anchor is dragging along the sea bed it may become fouled and the anchor may be lost.

Following are the basic check item that should be taken into account by deck officer while performing anchor watch
  1. Instruction from the Master or Chief Officer
  2. Ships position w.r.t swinging circle as marked on chart
  3. Length of anchor chain in use
  4. Signals, lights, and shapes now in use
  5. Visitors identity, number, and business
  6. Onboard work
  7. Carrying out Master's and Chief Officer's instruction?
  8. Is deviation of the vessel's current position from measured position within the value given by master?
  9. Is any oil floating on sea around the vessel?
  10. Is under keel clearance being monitored and any change in UKC on similar heading investigated?
  11. Are regulation signals, lights, and shapes being displayed?
  12. Are VHF receivers set to the correct working / watch channels?
  13. Is there any ship (anchored or underway) that is likely to collide with own vessel?
  14. Reporting and record of necessary matters?
  15. Is the accommodation ladder raised to deck level when not in use?
  16. Is safety net fitted properly?
  17. Is lighting sufficient?
  18. Are any small crafts approaching vessel (ISPS vigilance maintained)?
  19. Is anchor chain monitored for excess weight?
  20. Has OOW confirmed matters to be turned over to successor?
  21. Necessary items entered in Logbook?
  22. Master call during excessive Wind Velocity, reduced visibility or in case Whirling (Yawing) angle :

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ShipsBusiness.com is merely an informational site about various aspects of ships operation,maintenance procedure, prevention of pollution and many safety guideline. The procedures explained here are only indicative, not exhaustive in nature and one must always be guided by practices of good seamanship.

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