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Cargo ships preparations for entering ports

Oceangoing cargo vessels preparations for entering ports involve many complexities, and careful consideration will need to be made for safe berthing. Summarized below are some necessary check items that need to be complied with. Watch officers should also be kept in mind the procedures explained here are only indicative, not exhaustive, and one must always be guided by practices of good seamanship. Also, a specific ship will have its characteristics. The Master should inform the estimated time of arrival port to the head of departments. There should be a meeting between all Senior officers and where necessary, Junior officers and Crew, convened well before arrival port, to discuss all matters about the port arrival and stay.

The concerned officers shall confirm the completed condition of the corresponding items of the “Checklist for Entering Port” and report the same to the Master. Relevant entry to be made in the Deck Log Book to this effect.


Main Engine Astern Testing should be carried out before every port entries. The testing area should be the Safety area where it is before Pilot onboard (or before reaching to Pilot boarding ground), with considering vessels’ maneuvering factors.


The stations for Entering (and Leaving) port shall be as follows, but the Master may change these as actual circumstances require.

• The Chief Officer shall be at the Bow to command the forward station.

• The Second Officer shall be at the Stern to command aft station. However, if the aft station is not required, he shall follow Master’s instruction.

• The Third Officer shall assist the Master on the Bridge.

• The Bosun shall assist the Chief Officer at the Bow

• Other Deck Ratings shall be at the Bow or Stern and engaged in the operation under the direction of the Chief Officer or the Second Officer, as appropriate

• Deck Ratings stationed on the Bridge shall be engaged in Steering and Lookout.

• The Chief Engineer shall be in the Engine Control Room and take command of the machinery, in general,

• The First (Asst.) Engineer shall be in the Engine room and engaged in the operation of Machinery by commanding his subordinates.

• The Second (Asst.) Engineer and Third Asst. engineer shall be stationed as ordered and engaged in the operation of the Machinery.

• No.1 Oiler shall assist the First (Asst.) Engineer in the engine room in necessary operations under his direction and supervise Engine ratings

• Other Engine Ratings shall work under the direction of the First (Asst.) Engineer in the engine room.

Related procedures and rules

The following procedures must be complied with when preparing for entering port:

• Procedures for Confirming Stability and Hull Strength

• Procedures for Pilotage

• Procedures for Navigational Watch-keeping

• Procedures for Inspection of Nautical Instruments and Steering Gear

• Procedures for GMDSS Communication

• Related Local Laws and Regulations, such as CFR and port rules

• SSP (Ship Security Plan) related procedures

Unsafe Ports

Unsafe ports are ports where you have, for any reason, an above-normal chance/risk to damage any part of the ship or cargo under the prevailing conditions. Examples of unsafe ports/places:

When incidents ocurred

Damage to fixed and floating objects usually occur when a vessel is entering or leaving a port. If damage occurs when a vessel is entering a port, the Master should report the incident as soon as possible to owners. If possible, the Master also should contact the local P & I representatives and request them to attend and assist.

If damage occurs when the vessel is leaving a port, the Master should resist any temptation to ignore the incident in the hope that the damage will be minimal, and there were no witnesses. Owners should be notified as soon as possible in order that inquiries may be made to ascertain the extent of the damage.

Related articles

Port watch check item

Ships navigation - Preparation for departure port

Deck officers guideline for watchkeeping in port

How to ensure safe working atmosphere onboard?

Collecting Information and Data for Passage Planning

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