What Procedure Does Master Follow For Handing-Over Of Ship’s Command?

The captain of the ship is the sole person responsible for the overall safety and security of a ship and its operations. Right from the moment he first steps on the ship, the master of the ship has to be extremely particular about every aspect related to the ship and its operations.

Though a ship’s master is an experienced person who knows his duties inside-out, more than often there are too many things happening simultaneously on board ships and therefore he must consider a few important points while handling various operations related to the ship. This point is extremely important during handing over of duties when a new master relieves the reigning master.

navigation officer
Representation Image – Credits: darn13/depositphotos.com

When a ship’s captain hands over the command of the ship to a new captain, there are several formalities and procedures involved. Handing over of the ship at the master level is a responsible job which needs to be carried out without neglecting any important points.

All masters are aware of the handing over procedures of the ship; however, we have made a checklist to make the process easier.

Ship handing over procedure

A new captain while taking over a ship would take care of the following points:

  • Find out about the condition of the ship, both on the interior and exterior side.
  • Ask for a “To-do” list from the signing off master about jobs that are to be carried out on the ship and also examine the ones that are recently carried
  • Form a list of things that he would do on joining the new ship
  • Take delivery of all the official documents of the ship from the off-going captain
  • Have a look at the condition of the load lines, draft lines etc. to ensure that they are properly visible
  • Make an official log book entry and sign it along with the off-going master
  • Check the condition of rigging, accommodation ladder, gangway and other related accessories
  • Fill the necessary details in the official log book such as name, type of certificate of competency, reference number and other important particulars
  • Take the combination/ keys of the ship’s safe and count the money and check the amount with the official records.
  • Check the condition of the life saving equipment and fire fighting appliances
  • Check all the important documents of owners’, managers, classification society and P & I club.
  • Check the past records of the ship and recent activities that have been carried out from the official log book
  • Inspect the muster list and ensure that it is updated
  • Receive familiarization training according to STCW
  • Ensure that his personal life jacket is in proper condition. He must also know how to use it in emergency situations
  • Examine the passage plan and check details of the next voyage by consulting with appropriate  deck officer
  • Inquire about the condition of machinery and quantity of bunker fuel and lubricating fuel from the chief engineer.
  • Check about the safety surplus of fuel required by the charter party to be carried on board ships
  • Check the condition of all nautical charts and publications on board ships
  • Check the situation of cargo, stability, ballast, freshwater, stored, maintenance of the ship etc. by consulting with the chief officer
  • Read all the relevant clauses of bill of lading or charter party
  • Check ISM documentation for any pending or recently rectified non-conformities
  • Have a thorough inspection of the ship (in a practical way) to make sure he is satisfied regarding the condition of the ship to take it to the sea
  • If necessary provide the standing orders for his crew

The signing-off master should ensure the following before leaving the ship:

  • Check (count) the money in the ship’s safe and confirm it with the records
  • Bring the accounts with owners or managers up to date
  • Make sure all the documents of the ship, crew, cargo etc. are in order for handing over to the new captain
  • Provide hand-over notes for the new master
  • Mention about any particular problem or an important task that needs to be carried on in the next voyage
  • Make sure he has signed every page of the oil record book
  • Make sure to hand-over the duties in person to the new master
  • Lastly make a note in the official log book and sign the same to confirm that he has handed over the ship to the new master and has also submitted all the documents related to the ship, crew, cargo etc.  This entry is signed jointly by both the masters.

Do you think we have forgotten about any important duty that needs to be carried out during the handing over of the ship? Let us know!

About Author

Raunek Kantharia is a marine engineer turned maritime writer and entrepreneur. After a brief stint at the sea, he founded Marine Insight in 2010. Apart from managing Marine Insight, he also writes for a number of maritime magazines and websites.

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  1. Hi,
    intending to take a command for the first time .Will highly appreciate if someone told me a fancy sound take over command speech on PA system. Some Masters never says anything on taking over command, but I would like to make an announcement on PA.
    Use to sail with one British Master and heard that he did that old style habit announcement, but can’t remember what exactly it was. Thanks

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