A Safe Port Watch Procedure for Deck Officers

The key activities involved during port operations are loading and unloading of cargo, port authority people coming onboard the ship for formalities, and securing or stabilizing the ship as per the cargo loading and unloading procedure.

When ship is in port for loading or unloading cargo, a deck officer is very much responsible for the safe operations, security and safety of the ship. The deck officer is also called “cargo officer”. The port watch is carried out mainly by 2nd officer and 3rd officer along with able seaman and the chief officer takes care of the cargo operations.

Procedure for a safe port watch is follows:

  • Make rounds to inspect the ship at appropriate intervals.

  • Check the condition and securing of the gangway, anchor chain and moorings, especially at the turn of the tide and in berths having a large rise and fall; this is to ensure that they are in normal working condition.
  • Check the draft, under-keel clearance and the general state of the ship, to avoid dangerous listing or trim during cargo handling or ballasting.
  • Check the weather and sea state.
  • Observe all regulations concerning safety and fire protection.
  • Check the water level in bilges and tanks.
  • Knowledge of all persons onboard and their location, especially those in remote or enclosed spaces is to be kept.
  • Exhibit and sound all lights and signals, where ever appropriate and required.
  • In bad weather or in receiving a storm warning, take the necessary measures to protect the ship, persons on board, and the cargo. Take every precaution to prevent pollution of marine environment by ship’s operations.
  • In an emergency threatening the safety of the ship, raise alarm, inform the master, take all possible measures to prevent damage to the ship, its cargo and persons on board, and, if necessary, request assistance from the shore authorities or neighboring ships.


  • Be aware of the ship’s stability condition so that, in the event of fire, the shore fire fighting authority may be advised of the approximate quantity of water that can be pumped on board without endangering the ship.
  • Offer assistance to ships or persons in distress.
  • Take necessary precautions to prevent accidents or damage when propeller is to be turned.
  • Enter in the appropriate log-book all important events affecting the ship


You may also like to read-A Detailed Explanation of How a Ship is Manoeuvered to a Port

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  1. Sathish Kumar says

    I am a regular reader of Marine Insight. Its a great website to be followed especially for an entrant like me in merchant navy. I don’t know whether its a right place to post this question, but I couldn’t find the exact answer anywhere else. Can I become eligible for applying 2nd mate FG if I sail in coastal vessel as a deck cadet? If so is there any other additional requirements like additional sea service other than mandatory 18 months? Thank you.

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