What are the Duties of Chief Officer?

The operation of a ship is a result of the excellent teamwork of deck and engine department. One cannot run the ship with only engineers on board or for that matter with only deck officers.

While the engine department ensures the safe running of the ship’s machinery, the deck department is an organizational unit in which, deck officers performs navigational and other important duties directly related to the efficient working of the ship, apart from those involved with the engine room.

One of the most important ranks among deck officers is that of a Chief Officer, the head of deck department of the ship. S/He is one of the four management level officers on the ship who report directly to the captain and his/her second in command after the master of the ship.


Important duties of a ship’s Chief Officer include

1. Chief Officer is responsible for performing vessel navigation watch duties.

2. S/He is responsible for the entire cargo operation in ports which includes loading, unloading, and cargo planning.

3. S/He is the in-charge for maintenance of cargo gears and cargo carried on board ship.

4. One of the critical tasks performed by the chief officer is the accountability of the stability of the ship.

5. S/He is responsible for the maintenance of the ship’s hull and accommodation.

6. All the life saving and fire fighting appliances of the vessel comes under the responsibility of the chief officer.

7. The duties include the administration task of scheduling and distributing work to deck crew.

8. S/He has to build up the co-ordination with other departments and take part in conflict resolution.

9. S/He is responsible for garbage management for the deck and accommodation part of the ship.

10. S/He is in charge of the ballast and de-ballasting operation done on board.

11. S/He has to make sure all the crew members are complying with latest rules of MARPOL, SOLAS and STCW.

12.  ISPS code is another responsibility that the chief officer has to look over.

13.  Training in all the above regulations and conventions are to be carried out by the chief officer as per company policy.

14.  To look after supply, overtime, cost control records, purchase order, requisition, and other paperwork on behalf of shore management.

15.  S/He also acts as SSO- ship security officer, responsible for the security of the ship both in port and at sea.

16.  S/He is the overall safety in charge of the deck crew.

17.  S/He is responsible for the welfare of the crew on board ship.

One cannot think about operating a ship without considering the position of the chief officer. A Chief Officer is a key position on the ship, one who assists master and shore management and helps in training crew and juniors.

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Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendation on any course of action to be followed by the reader.

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  1. All the books are interesting for our college. Can I have the book freely. Our college is a training institution for marine fisheries and fishing vessel cadets.

  2. You keep saying “he” — however many Chief Officers are women. You should use “they”

  3. It’s so the detail of chief officer responsibilities which is some I ever know.thx you contribution

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