After clearing our 2nd Mates Exams and getting our COC, when we get a call from our company to join a specific vessel in specific number of days. We start preparing for our joining. A lot of things crosses our mind, a lot of emotions are felt, we feel happy that finally that day has arrived for which we have put in so much of our efforts.At the same time, somewhere at the back of our mind we feel little scared as this would be the first time we will have responsibilities on our shoulders. We are afraid about that first independent Navigation Watch as the sole in charge. There are doubts about that first Mooring station of which we will be the leader.
Here in this article, I will specifically talk about that first Mooring Station as an in charge.
From my personal and many of my colleague’s experience it is seen that we are really worried about handling the Mooring stations. Specially when we are about to join as a first time Third Officer as it is one of the most dangerous and critical operation. Let us see what we should expect and remember and how we should handle various situations when we are supervising a Mooring operation.
- The most important thing which should be kept in mind is that Master is the overall in charge of the mooring operations. You should be able to follow his commands and in turn order your crew to take action.
- Remember you are the in charge of your mooring station, so you will be answerable to Master and not your crew. So it is your duty to manage the station well.
- Before the mooring operation starts, have a small discussion or meeting with your crew members. Explain them their roles and duties like who will operate winches who will send lines etc. Believe me, this really helps. If a discussion has not taken place a lot of misunderstandings and confusions takes place during the operation which obviously is not favourable.
- Do not forget to carry out pre mooring checks like power to winches, communication systems among your crew and with the bridge.
- Always listen carefully to the plan which master will tell you before the mooring operation start. You should not have any doubts about the plan, you should be crystal clear about which line should go first and what will be the final configuration. If you have any confusions clear them at that very moment.
- Keep in mind that you will be held equally responsible as the master if any accidents takes place at your mooring station as you are the in charge there. So make sure everyone is working safely and have their safety gears on.
- Another thing is reporting. It is very important to report your actions to the Master, so that he doesn’t have any confusion in his mind and is aware of what is going on at your station.
- Never hesitate to report any problems to the Master. Don’t ever think that it will tarnish your image in front of Master. If you have issues like line is stuck somewhere or the tug line has parted or the ship’s line has parted, winch has tripped or any other difficulty you are facing, inform the Master right away and then take the necessary corrective action. Trust me, this will save many other complications. Master would be aware of the problem. So he might advice you something which could be of help and if not at least he would be a bit more patient as he knows what’s going on.
- Be calm and patient during a mooring operation. Try to keep your temper down. There would be instances when master would be shouting at you insanely for no reason. Do not panic in such cases, you are at the ground zero performing the operation. Take decisions wisely.
- When you go as a Third Officer mostly you would be supervising the Forward stations. The crew with you will be Bosun, OS and a Cadet mostly. Be sure that your cadet is experienced enough to handle winches and lines. Keep special eye on him as he is the least experienced out there and he might be indulged in unsafe practices.
- Trust your crew but never over rely on them. For example, don’t conclude that whatever Bosun is doing will always be right. If you have doubts about his actions, point it straight away. Remember you are the In charge there.
- You are responsible for your crew’s as well as your own safety. Whenever you are signalling to the winchman, never stand in the byte of a rope. Always keep clear of the snap back zones. It is often the case that the Officer himself indulges in unsafe practices. You should keep yourself safe, lead by example.
- Miscommunications and misunderstandings are the most common reasons for the accidents. Make sure your crew understands your orders and act in accordance and not otherwise.
- Another important aspect of the mooring operation is the team work, work as a team leader, not as a boss. Keep your attitude towards your crew right at all the times.
- If you find that your crew member is not experienced or competent enough, try to train him along. If it doesn’t help, you need to inform master at a later stage. You can’t take risk, mooring is a very critical operation.
- There might be instances where you will find that a particular master is not understanding. He is not cooperative and is always looking for the reasons to shout at you. In such cases take full charge of your mooring station. Follow his orders but be sure of your decisions, act wisely. Do not panic if master shouts, perform the operation calmly and keep reporting. At the end of the day you should be able to carry out that Mooring operation safely.
- And lastly, always remember there is no substitute to the “Presence of Mind”. Though you might be following Master’s orders but if you are unsure of something or feels that it will jeopardise the ship or your crew, speak up.
Hope this will be of some help to you guys. Feel free to share your experiences or doubts regarding above. We would love to hear from you sailors.