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Cargo ships navigational watch procedure - safety check items

Oceangoing cargo vessels navigational watch procedures involve many complexities and careful consideration will need to be made for safe passage at sea.
Summarized below are some basic check items that need to be complied. Bridge watch officers should also kept in mind the procedures discussed here are only indicative, not exhaustive in nature and one must always be guided by practices of good seamanship. Also specific ship will have her own characteristics .


Navigational watch check items

Have you confirmed and signed instructions in the Master's order book?


Have you checked the navigational warnings?

Have you confirmed charts to be used while being on watch?

Courses (confirm using a parallel ruler or triangular ruler)

Next course alteration point and its estimated time

Obstacles, shallows and navigable waters near the course line

Setting of parallel indexes (danger line)

Are the fire detecting systems in operation? Any zone isolation?

Have you personally confirmed the position of the vessel?

Are lights and shape signals indicated appropriately?

Vision adjusted to darkness (at night)?

Have you confirmed the condition around and on the vessel?

Have you confirmed operational radar & ARPA conditions (tune, gain control, CPA/TCPA setting, clutter setting, speed input)?

Have you confirmed correct display & position input of ECDIS / Chart Plotter (if fitted) incl. status of alarms if any?



Are nautical instruments / equipment and steering gear working normally?

Is VHF being used on the right channel and set to suitable volume / squelch?



Have you taken over the following items from the OOW?


Speed (speed over ground and log speed)

Deviation from the course line / XTE (Cross Track Error)

RPM of the Main engine

Movement of other ships around the vessel & other targets

Draft of the ship and predicted UKC

Weather and sea conditions

Engine Room status

Instructions from the Master & any permit to work issued


Related articles


Collecting Information and Data for Passage Planning

Ships navigational equipment and required check items

Rules of watchkeeping in port

Port watch check item- guide to safe cargo handling






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