Mastering Risk Assessment in Operations - Important to Know

What is a risk assessment?

The definition of a risk assessment is a systematic process of identifying hazards and evaluating any associated risks within a workplace, then implementing reasonable control measures to remove or reduce them.

When completing a risk assessment, it is important to clearly define some keywords:

An accident is ‘an unplanned event that results in loss’

A hazard is ‘something that has the potential to cause harm’

A risk is ‘the likelihood and the severity of a negative occurrence (injury, ill-health, damage, loss) resulting from a hazard.’

Risk assessments are critical for ensuring the safety of vessels and their operations, whether they are ships, boats, or any other type of watercraft. Conducting thorough risk assessments helps identify potential hazards, assess their potential consequences, and implement appropriate measures to mitigate or eliminate those risks. Here are some key steps  for performing risk assessments on vessels:

Identify Hazards: Begin by identifying all potential hazards which could pose a risk for the vessel, its crew, passengers, and the environment. For these hazards we could include mechanical failures, adverse weather conditions, navigational challenges, fire, collision, human error, and other one.

Likelihood Assessment: Evaluate the likelihood of each hazard occurring. Involves considering factors such as historical data, weather forecasts, equipment reliability, and crew experience.

Prioritize Risks: Focus on addressing the highest risks first, as they pose the greatest potential for harm.

Monitoring and Review: Continuously monitor the effectiveness of the mitigation measures and review the risk assessment periodically. New hazards may emerge, and the effectiveness of existing measures may change over time.

Regulatory Compliance: Ensure that the vessel and its operations comply with relevant maritime regulations and standards. Many regulatory bodies require vessels to have risk assessment processes in place.

Emergency Preparedness: Develop comprehensive emergency response plans for different scenarios, including accidents, fires, oil spills, and medical emergencies. Conduct regular drills to ensure that the crew is well-prepared to respond effectively.

Communication: Maintain open communication among the crew and relevant stakeholders about potential risks, safety procedures, and emergency protocols.

Crew Training: Train the crew on safety protocols, risk mitigation strategies, and emergency response procedures. Well-trained crew members are essential for preventing and managing risks effectively.

Record Keeping: Maintain thorough records of risk assessments, mitigation measures, and any incidents that occur. This documentation can be valuable for future reference and  demonstrating compliance with regulations.

The main purpose of risk assessments are:

  • To identify health and safety hazards and evaluate the risks presented within the workplace.
  • To evaluate the effectiveness and suitability of existing control measures.
  • To ensure additional controls (including procedural) are implemented wherever the remaining risk is considered to be anything other than low.
  • To prioritise further resources if needed .

It can be a costly lesson for a shipowner and seafarers if they fail to have necessary controls in place.

Carrying out risk assessments on a vessel is a shared responsibility that involves various individuals within the maritime industry. The specific responsibilities may vary depending on the type of vessel, its purpose, and the organizational structure of the maritime operation.

Here are some individuals involved in conducting risk assessments on a vessel:

Ship Owner/Operator: The shipowner or operator holds overall responsibility for the vessel's safety and compliance with regulations. They are typically responsible for ensuring that risk assessments are conducted and appropriate mitigation measures are implemented.

Master/Captain: The master or captain of the vessel plays a crucial role in assessing risks and making operational decisions to ensure the safety of the vessel and its crew. They have an in-depth understanding of the vessel's capabilities and limitations, as well as the operational environment.

Designated Safety Officer: Some vessels have a designated safety officer who is responsible for overseeing safety protocols, conducting risk assessments, and ensuring compliance with safety regulations. This role may be separate from the captain's responsibilities.

Chief Mate/Chief Officer: In larger vessels, the chief mate or chief officer may be responsible for safety-related tasks, including risk assessments, safety drills, and emergency response coordination.

Crew Members: All crew members have a role to play in identifying and reporting potential hazards, following safety procedures, and participating in safety drills and training.

Maritime Regulatory Authorities: Depending on the jurisdiction, maritime regulatory authorities may require vessels to conduct risk assessments as part of their compliance with safety and environmental regulations. These authorities may review and approve risk assessment processes and procedures.

Safety Consultants: In some cases, maritime companies may seek the expertise of safety consultants or risk assessment experts to conduct specialized assessments or provide guidance on safety measures.

Cargo Vessels: Cargo vessels may have specific risk assessments related to the handling and transportation of hazardous materials, cargo securing, and stability.

Pilots and Navigators: Pilots and navigators provide expert navigation assistance when vessels enter and leave ports or navigate through challenging waters. They contribute to risk assessments by providing insights into navigational challenges and local conditions.

Ultimately, the responsibility for conducting risk assessments on a vessel is a collaborative effort that involves various stakeholders working together to ensure the safety of the vessel, its crew, passengers, and the environment.

Chartering abbreviations, also known as shipping abbreviations or maritime abbreviations, are a set of standardized codes and abbreviations used in the shipping and maritime industry to communicate information quickly and efficiently. These abbreviations are used in various documents, messages, and communications related to the chartering and operation of vessels.

Chartering abbreviations have been established over many years as the maritime industry developed and evolved. The use of standardized codes and abbreviations in shipping can be traced back to the early 20th century and has become more prevalent as the industry has become increasingly global and complex.

The language used within the shipping business may not be easily understood by everybody –please find a short list of explanations for some of the most common expressions, standard terms and abbreviations.


Container shipping language

Full Container Load
Less Container Load
Out-of-Gauge / OOG
Oversized cargo, on Flat or Open Top container
Rate is valid from Container yard to Container yard - used for container shipments only
Rate is valid from Container Freight Station to Container Freight Station
DC container
Dry Cargo container - standart closed box container
DV container
Dry Van container - standart closed box container
GP container
General Purpose container - standart closed box container 
HC container
High Cube container - container which is 1’ (abt 30 cm) higher than normal containers
OT container
Open Top container
FR container
Flatrack container
Carriers own container
Shipper’s own container
Breakbulk shipping terms
 Liner Terms, hook/hook
Rate includes seafreight, loading to vessel, lashing and securing, unlashing and discharge. Any cost to hooking/unhooking not included, nor any landside/terminal cost whatsoever.
Free in and out, stowed. It means that loading and discharge of goods, stowage, lashing and securing, is additional and not included in price.
Free out
Consignee shall arrange and cover cost of discharge of cargo from vessel.
Free on Truck. Loading and unloading of cargo to/from truck is NOT included
Free in / Liner Out – It means that loading incl. lashing & securing of goods are excluded in the price, but discharge cost are included in the price.
Liner in / Free Out – Vice Versa of above
Agw, wp, wog
All Going Well, Weather Permitting, Without Guarantee
Bunker Adjustment Factor (surcharge for bunker costs)
Basis 1/1
Basis 1 port to 1 Port
Before Breakbulk Bulk. Refers to freight payment that must be received before discharge of a vessel commences. Often used when transit time is short
Breakbulk cargo
Both ends (Load & Discharge ports)
Board of Directors approval
Broken stowage
The cargo space which is unavoidable lost when stowing cargo. The percentage of wasted space depends upon e.g the kind of cargo, the packing and the used space.
Currency Adjustment Factor
Chargeable weight in Airfreight
In Airfreight, 1 cbm = 167 kgs. Example: shipment of 200 kgs 7.00 cbm, will be charged as 7.00 x 167 kgs = 1169 kgs.
Charterers Option
Closing of Business hours
Center Of Gravity
Accumulation of vessels at a port to the extent that vessels aariving to load or discharge are obliged to wait for a vacant berth.
CP (or C/P)
Charter Party
Dead Weight ton – definition of vessel size
Full-cargo / Sole-cargo
Vessel is booked only with one shipment cargo and will sail directly from port of loading to port of discharge
Fridays, Holidays included (Muslim countries)
General Rate Increase – Expression used by container carriers, as example rate subject to GRI as from 1st July.
Grace period
Agreed free time in POL/POD before detention cost will count.
One Good Safe Berth, Always Afloat, Always Accessible
Hot permit
Permit to perform welding work
Length Overall of the vessel
Lashing, securing, Dunnaged, Welding
Minimum inducement
Minimum freight rate applicable to start the the voyage to cover cost for loading operation, discharge operation and the voyage
More or Less Charterers Option
Notice of Readiness
Detention. If loading completed sooner than expected, then saved days will not be added to discharge time allowed
Expression used when booking with breakbulk carriers in tramp service. Part-cargo means that only part of the vessel is booked.
Per Day Pro Rata
Port of loading
Port of discharge
Peak Season Surcharge – Extra surcharge applicable duing peak season
Recapitulation of the terms and conditions agreed
Detention. If loading completed sooner than expected at load port, then days saved can be added to discharge operation
Roll on / Roll off – Vessel type with a ramp, ie car carriers
Sundays, Holidays excluded
Sundays, Holidays included
Saturday, Sunday, Holidays excluded
Statement of Facts
Static cargo
Cargo which is not on own wheels and can be rolled on board. Cargo will be stowed on roll trailers / mafi trailers
To be Named / To be Nominated
Terminal handling charge
W/M, RT or FR
Weight / Measure, Revenue Ton, Freight ton: 1 ton equals 1 cbm. Each package is rated individually, depending on weight/volume


The frequency of using these abbreviations would depend on the level of familiarity among industry professionals, the nature of communication (formal contracts, emails, casual conversations, etc.), and the specific sector within the maritime industry (shipping companies, brokers, legal departments, etc.). It's important to note that while these abbreviations are commonly used, the context of the conversation or document would dictate whether they are necessary or appropriate.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating shipping, has played a significant role in standardizing many aspects of the maritime industry, including communication. While the IMO primarily focuses on safety, security, and environmental concerns, its work has also contributed to the establishment of standardized practices and codes that include shipping-related abbreviations.

It's important to note that while certain abbreviations have been established for a long time, the specific list of abbreviations and their meanings can vary between different regions and organizations. However, efforts have been made to create internationally recognized standards to improve communication and efficiency in the maritime industry. These standards continue to evolve as the industry adapts to new technologies and changing practices.

Pre-boarding vessel checklist. Consider these steps:

Check trade Documents: Ensure that you have all the necessary travel documents, including your passport, visa (if required), identification, and any other relevant permits.

Pack essential items: Pack your personal belongings, clothing, medications, toiletries, and any other items you might need during your time on the vessel.

Verify route and schedule: Twice-check the vessel's route, time of departure, and any connecting transportation you might need to take to reach the port, if you transport alone, without agent.

Health and safety: Consider your health and safety. If you have any medical conditions or require specific medications, ensure you have an ample supply for the duration of your voyage.

Money and payments: You must have sufficient local currency or payment methods that might be accepted on the vessel. On some vessels might have limited options of payment.

Familiarize with vessel policies: Read and understand the vessel's rules and regulations, as well as any safety guidelines provided to you. This might include information about emergency procedures, evacuation routes, and onboard activities.

Communication: Ensure you have a way to communicate with the vessel's crew and staff if needed, in case you got lost going into town. This might involve getting a contact number or information about onboard communication systems.

Pack accordingly: Consider the weather conditions and the activities which you'll be engaging in during your time on the vessel. Pack appropriate clothing, footwear and accessories.

There is a global federation of trade unions representing the interests of transport workers, including seafarers. The ITF sets certain standards and requirements to ensure the welfare and rights of seafarers. These requirements are often related to working conditions, wages, safety and other aspects of life at sea. Wages and contracts: The ITF works to ensure that seafarers are paid fair wages and that their employment contracts are in compliance with international labor standards. This includes provisions for appropriate rest periods, working hours, and leave entitlements.

Repatriation: Seafarers have the right to be repatriated to their home countries at the end of their contracts. The ITF ensures that this right is upheld and that seafarers are not left stranded in foreign ports.

Crisis Response: The ITF assists seafarers in cases of emergencies, disputes, or unexpected events that might affect their work or well-being.

ITF advice on your contract to work at sea.

The best guarantee of proper conditions of employment at sea is only to sign a contract (Seafarers’ Employment Agreement (SEA)) drawn up in accordance with an ITF-approved collective agreement. Failing that, here is a checklist to follow.

  • Do not start work on a ship without having a written contract. It is a requirement of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) that you can review the contract before signing and seek advice if you want
  • Never sign a blank contract, or a contract that binds you to any terms and conditions that are not specified or that you are not familiar with
  • Make sure that the duration of the contract is clearly stated. Do not sign a contract that allows for alterations to be made to the contractual period at the sole discretion of the shipowner. Any change to the agreed duration of the contract should be by mutual consent
  • Make sure that the contract clearly stipulates how overtime will be paid and at what rate. There could be a flat hourly rate payable for all hours worked in excess of the basic. Or there may be a monthly fixed amount for a guaranteed number of overtime hours, in which case the rate for any hours worked beyond the guaranteed overtime should be clearly stated. The ILO states that all overtime hours should be paid at a minimum of 1.25 x the normal hourly rate
  • Make certain that the payments for basic wages, overtime and leave are clearly and separately itemised in the contract
  • Check that your contract states that you are entitled to the costs of your repatriation. Never sign a contract that contains any clause stating you are responsible for paying any portion of joining or repatriation expenses
  • Do not sign a contract that allows the shipowner to withhold or retain any portion of your wages during the period of the contract. You should be entitled to full payment of wages earned at the end of each calendar month

Be aware that an individual employment contract will not always include details of additional benefits. Therefore, try to obtain confirmation (preferably in the form of a written agreement or contractual entitlement) of what compensation will be payable in the event of:

- sickness or injury during the contractual period

- death (amount payable to the next of kin)

- loss of the vessel

- loss of personal effects resulting from the loss of the vessel

- premature termination of the contract.

  • Do not sign a contract that contains any clause that restricts your right to join, contact, consult with or be represented by a trade union of your choice
  • Ensure that you are given and retain a copy of the contract you have signed. Check the conditions for terminating your contract, including how much notice the shipowner must give you to terminate your contract
  • Remember, whatever the terms and conditions, any agreement that you enter into voluntarily would, in most jurisdictions, be considered legally binding. Seafarers' rights and working conditions are complex topics that are subject to various national and international regulations.


Stowaways on Ships: Prevention and Response Measures

A stowaway is a person who secretes himself in a ship without the consent of the shipowner or the person in charge, and who is on board once the ship has left port.  Stowaways have existed ever since international shipping began, but they have become a growing problem. In recent years, more and more people are leaving their home countries in pursuit of a better life with greater economic chances, or to flee war, discrimination or other conflict. In desperation, and lacking funds to travel, an increasing number have resorted to stowing aboard ship, often in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia, to seek a better life abroad.

Why are stowaways a problem?

Stowaways on board cause legal problems for authorities in ports of call, financial problems for shipowners and states, and human problems for crews who have stowaways on board. In the worst cases, stowaways have outnumbered crews or been refused permission to be landed in ports.

Stowaways pose specific challenges and problems when they are found aboard vessels:

Security and Safety: Stowaways can compromise the security and safety of the vessel. Their presence in unauthorized areas can lead to accidents, injuries, or even fatalities. They might get injured while hiding in hazardous spaces, and crew members may be unaware of their presence, leading to dangerous situations.

Resource Allocation: Detecting and managing stowaways requires the allocation of resources, including crew time and efforts, to locate and deal with them. This diverts attention from the regular operations and tasks of the crew.

Operational Disruption: Dealing with stowaways can disrupt the vessel's operations and schedules. The crew may need to spend time conducting searches, providing medical care, and coordinating with authorities, resulting in delays and potential financial losses for the vessel operator.

Legal and Regulatory Issues: When stowaways are discovered on a vessel, it can lead to legal and regulatory complications. Depending on international and national laws, the vessel's operator might be held responsible for the stowaways' wellbeing and may be required to repatriate them or provide assistance.

International Relations: Discovering stowaways can lead to diplomatic tensions, especially if the vessel is in the territorial waters of another country. The handling of stowaways requires coordination between the vessel's flag state, the coastal state, and potentially other involved countries.

Reputation and Image: Instances of stowaways being found on vessels can harm the reputation of the vessel's operator. It may suggest inadequate security measures, impact customer trust, and potentially deter business partners.

Complexity of Treatment: Addressing the needs of stowaways, particularly those who may have legitimate asylum claims or are in vulnerable situations, presents a complex ethical and humanitarian challenge. Ensuring their rights and well-being while complying with legal obligations can be intricate.

To address these problems, vessel operators implement security measures such as enhanced monitoring, access controls, cargo checks, and crew training to prevent stowaway incidents.

The ITF believes governments must establish proper processes for dealing with stowaways, which do not pass responsibility or blame onto shipping companies or seafarers.

International agreements and maritime conventions outline procedures for dealing with stowaways in a manner that considers their rights and legal obligations.

What rights do stowaways have?

An international convention relating to stowaways dates back 50 years, but has not come into force because not enough states have ratified it. This convention covers such issues as the responsibility of the ship's master and relevant authorities when a stowaway is detected, and regulations for their return, including the costs.

Although this convention has not been ratified, the position of stowaways is protected by the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights. These cover the right to life, and freedom from torture, degrading treatment, slavery, discrimination, and other basic human rights.

If you find a stowaway, you should:

- Check their state of health

- Find out their identity and the reasons they are on board

 - Arrange food and lodging

- Explain emergency procedures and issue them with a lifejacket and lifeboat place

- Inform the ship's owner or agent

- Expect the master to prepare a signed statement containing all information relating to the stowaway, to be given to the authority where the stowaway is delivered.

A stowaway should not be arrested or detained (although the master has the right to maintain discipline on board), and should not be forced to work. Remember that handling stowaways is a complex process that involves legal, humanitarian, and security considerations. Cooperation with relevant authorities and compliance with international and national laws is crucial to ensure a proper and ethical resolution of the situation.

The Impact on Maritime Workers and Industry

It is extremely important for seafarers to do everything possible to avoid pollution of the marine environment. Sometimes the pressures of commercial necessity put seafarers in a difficult position, and although the company may not insist that the crew use the most economical methods, they may be the only way to meet deadlines. At present, any action that has the potential to cause environmental damage, whether intentional violation or negligent, can result in seafarers being charged and treated in the same way as criminal offenders.

How do laws vary?

Laws and regulations concerning marine pollution can vary significantly from one country to another. The extent and nature of these laws depend on factors such as the country's geographical location, economic activities, environmental concerns, and commitment to international agreements. For example, the right to remain silent, the right to confidentiality of information, safeguards against arrest and detention, the right to legal advice and legal representation, the right to a fair trial and the extradition process vary greatly from country to country. If you are unsure, seek advice from your union and/or your company.

What is serious negligence?

Serious negligence leading to pollution of the marine environment is a critical issue that can have devastating consequences for marine ecosystems and the communities that depend on them. Pollution in the oceans is caused by various factors, including industrial discharges, oil spills, agricultural runoff, untreated sewage, plastic waste, and more.

The new European Directive criminalizes unintentionally caused pollution. It uses a vague concept of "serious negligence" not provided for under European law and ignores safeguards for the rights of seafarers detained in connection with marine pollution incidents.

The effects of marine pollution are far-reaching and can include:

- Pollution can lead to the death of marine animals and plants due to toxic substances, ingestion of plastic debris, or oil contamination. It can also disrupt the delicate balance of marine ecosystems, affecting biodiversity and the food chain.

- Some pollutants contribute to ocean acidification, affecting marine life with calcium carbonate shells, such as corals and certain types of plankton, which are essential parts of the marine food web.

- Plastic pollution is a growing concern as it persists in the environment for centuries and accumulates in vast areas like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It poses a threat to marine animals through ingestion, entanglement, and disruption of their habitats.

- Polluted waters can impact fishing and tourism industries, which are vital sources of income for many coastal communities. This can lead to job losses and economic hardship.

- Сan affect human health through the consumption of contaminated seafood or exposure to toxins in the water. It can lead to various health issues, including gastrointestinal problems, skin irritations, and more severe illnesses.

How should I behave if there is a pollution incident?

If your vessel has an incident at sea, there are international safeguards that ensure you are treated fairly if an investigation is carried out or if you are detained in connection with the incident.

You should be aware that information reported during the investigation of a maritime accident can be used against you in criminal prosecutions. Therefore, if you are questioned about an incident involving your vessel, request the presence of an attorney when necessary, contact your union and/or company for legal advice or assistance.

The state whose flag your ship is flying has the right under international law to initiate a legal procedure to demand the immediate release of seafarers detained in connection with a maritime accident or marine pollution. Unfortunately, flag of convenience states are notorious for not using this right to release the crews of ships flying their flag.

Your shipowner and your ship's insurers should provide you with legal support and counseling in the event of your arrest or detention, and meet your welfare needs if any. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Labour Organization (ILO) recommendations on fair treatment of seafarers in maritime accidents can be found using the link on the right-hand side of the page.

To address marine pollution, it is essential to hold individuals, industries, and governments accountable for their actions and promote responsible environmental practices. Implementing and enforcing strict regulations regarding waste disposal, promoting recycling and waste reduction, and supporting sustainable practices are crucial steps to mitigate marine pollution.


In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, technological advancements are transforming industries across the board, and the maritime sector is no exception. Commercial vessels are now equipped with state-of-the-art digital teams that have revolutionized the way inspection and maintenance processes are carried out. These innovative technologies enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and ensure the smooth operation of vessels. In this article, we will explore the five most modern digital teams used aboard commercial ships that are streamlining inspection and maintenance procedures.

Remote Monitoring and Diagnostic Systems:

One of the most significant advancements in maritime technology is the implementation of remote monitoring and diagnostic systems. These intelligent systems leverage real-time data to continuously monitor the performance of various components and systems on board. By collecting and analyzing data, they can detect potential faults and anomalies before they escalate into critical issues. Remote monitoring and diagnostic systems enable proactive maintenance, optimize vessel performance, and minimize downtime.

Augmented Reality (AR) for Inspections:

Augmented Reality has found its way into the maritime industry, revolutionizing inspection procedures. AR technology overlays digital information onto the real-world environment, enhancing the inspector's ability to detect flaws and perform thorough inspections. With AR-enabled devices, inspectors can access real-time data, schematics, and technical documentation, allowing them to make informed decisions and perform precise inspections efficiently. This technology greatly improves inspection accuracy, reduces human errors, and enhances safety measures.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for Visual Inspections:

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, commonly known as drones, have become indispensable tools for visual inspections of vessels. Equipped with high-resolution cameras and sensors, UAVs can access difficult-to-reach areas, such as the top of masts or the hull below the waterline. By capturing high-quality images and videos, drones provide inspectors with a comprehensive view of the ship's condition, enabling them to identify potential issues and plan maintenance accordingly. UAVs save time, reduce costs, and enhance safety by minimizing the need for human personnel in hazardous areas.

Condition Monitoring Systems:

Condition Monitoring Systems (CMS) employ a network of sensors strategically placed throughout the ship to collect data on equipment performance and health. These sensors monitor variables such as temperature, pressure, vibration, and fluid levels, allowing early detection of equipment malfunctions or abnormalities. By analyzing the data, CMS can predict potential failures and trigger timely maintenance actions, avoiding costly breakdowns and optimizing the lifespan of critical components. Condition Monitoring Systems greatly contribute to the overall reliability and operational efficiency of commercial vessels.

Digital Documentation and Asset Management:

Traditionally, maintaining vast amounts of documentation and tracking assets on a ship has been a complex and time-consuming process. However, digital documentation and asset management systems have revolutionized these practices. By digitizing manuals, technical documents, and records, these systems enable easy access to critical information, reducing the time required for inspections and troubleshooting. Moreover, digital asset management systems provide real-time visibility of equipment location, maintenance history, and spare parts inventory, ensuring efficient asset utilization and reducing downtime.

The integration of these modern digital teams has transformed the inspection and maintenance processes on commercial vessels. Remote monitoring and diagnostic systems, augmented reality for inspections, unmanned aerial vehicles, condition monitoring systems, and digital documentation and asset management systems have streamlined operations, improved safety, and optimized vessel performance. As the maritime industry embraces these cutting-edge technologies, we can expect even greater efficiency, reliability, and cost savings in the maintenance and inspection processes aboard commercial ships. Embracing these innovations will be crucial for maritime companies to stay ahead in this digital era and drive sustainable growth.

Author: Joseph Contreras

Important to know: Regulations for Hours of Work and Rest

The STCW Code has been amended regarding hours of rest so it is now in line with International Labour Organisation (ILO) and United Kingdom Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) requirements. Known as the 2010 Manila Amendments to the STCW Code, which entered into force on 1st January, 2012, for all parties to the Convention, (except Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Portugal), the regulations now require a minimum of 10 hours rest in any 24 hour period and 77 hours in any 7 day period.

Minimum hours of rest for watch personnel:

The minimum number of hours of rest for ratings and officers assigned to the above duties is 10 hours in any 24 hour period. There are no exceptions from this rule. This does not mean that the other 14 hours should be spent on duty. The other personnel who do not have watch-keeping, designated safety, security or prevention of pollution responsibilities are exempted from this provision, but the MLC will apply (however this applies to very few crew and only on larger ships).

The 24 hour period is calculated from the time the watchkeeper’s duty starts, and not from 00:00 hours. The 10 hour rest period may be divided into no more than two periods, one of which must be at least six hours long and no period less than one hour. The rest period in any seven day period must not be less than 77 hours. The minimum rest period is not obligatory in the case of emergencies, drills or overriding operational conditions.

Important: The previous provision that allowed the 10 hour rest period to be reduced to not less than six consecutive hours provided such reduction does not extend beyond two days, and not less than 70 hours of rest are provided each seven day period no longer applies in the 2010 STCW Convention.

In the 2010 STCW there is an exception allowed. The administration may allow an exception of rest hours provided that the rest period is not less than 70 hours in any seven day period and is not allowed for more than two weeks. However the 10 hour minimum per 24 hour period is still in force. In addition, the rest hours may be within these two weeks of exemptions divided into three periods. The interval between two periods of exceptions on board shall not be less than twice the duration of the exception. In practice this means that if you have reduced rest hours to 70 per week over a two week period the next four weeks have to comply with the general rule of 77 hours rest per week and only two rest periods in any 24 hour period.

The administration should at all times take into account the guidance regarding the prevention of fatigue.

Administrations shall require that watch schedules be posted and assessable in the working language or languages of the ship and in English. A seafarer who has their normal rest period disturbed by a call-out to work must have adequate compensatory rest periods. Administrations require that records of the daily hours of rest be maintained, and you must ensure these records are correctly maintained. You should receive a copy of the records pertaining to you, endorsed by the master and, after ensuring their accuracy you should also sign them.

From January 2012, seafarers will need to review and sign a record of their work/rest hours periodically (typically at least once a month) to ensure they comply with the minimum rest  hours stipulated.

Watch-keeping principles and arrangements.

The STCW Convention contains guidance for watch-keeping personnel on how to keep a safe watch at all times, whether at sea or in port. The complete guidelines can be found in section A-VIII/2 of the convention. The master, chief engineer and all watch- keeping personnel (navigation, propulsion and radio) are required to perform their duties according to these principles and guidelines. Operations procedure manuals kept on board are also likely to contain some of this information and it is in your own interest, to read them.

You should also be familiar with the onboard ISM Code, which places particular emphasis on internal management of safety and the development of company-specific and ship-specific safety procedures. This should contain documentation on bridge and engine room watch-keeping arrangements, along with much more for the ship at sea or in port. Shipping companies are required to provide clear procedures to be followed by watch-keeping personnel. Not only are you required to abide by these provisions, but it is also a useful reminder of procedures seafarers already know but tend to forget.

The master has direct responsibility for ensuring that all watch-keeping principles and arrangements are adhered to at all times and under all circumstances. However, he or she can only be successful through the commitment and co-operation of the whole team, both on-board and ashore.

Six hours on/Six hours off.

Working ‘sixes’ may, in theory, appear to meet the criteria under STCW 2010, thus avoiding infringements of the Hours of Work and Rest regulations. However, there are other factors which need to be considered.

STCW sets out appropriate guidance for taking over the watch such the procedures will need to be carried out before the relieving watchkeeper takes over the watch.

Hence, the relieving officer will need to be at their place of work (bridge, engine control room, etc.) before the commencement of their watch and the officer to be relieved cannot eave until the handover is complete. Therefore, when watchkeepers are working ‘sixes’, the Master and/or owners will need to be able to demonstrate that the handover period is successfully carried out without reducing the 6 hours rest time.

The 2010 Manila Amendments to the STCW Code have been instrumental in prioritizing the welfare and safety of seafarers through the establishment of clear rest hour standards. Seafarers must stay informed about the minimum rest hour requirements and consistently review and sign records of their work/rest hours. Adherence to watch-keeping principles is of utmost importance for safe operations, and it is the master's duty to enforce these guidelines. To prevent fatigue-related problems and ensure the well-being of the crew and vessel, companies and ship management must actively support and facilitate compliance with rest hour regulations.

Insights into Offshore Survey Jobs (Part 2)

I've previously described the small multibeam sensor that was mounted on the Over-side pole (OSP), as well as the specific multibeam sensor we installed on the bottom of the vessel to provide complete coverage of the sea bottom while the lines were being run.

This sensor provides surveyors with a clear picture of the bottom so they can determine the state of the seabed and its topography to estimate possibility of installation of turbines.

Nearing the end of my explanation, I will now discuss the deck winches and other equipment that are used on our vessel during survey operations.


Seismic-wires drum & Cabling.

EIVA Side-Wich

For the Seismic operations usually, special buoys are in use, for example: Sparker and Streamer buoys in addition with Head and Tail buoys.

Sparker & Streamer

For the scanning of the bottom, such kind of equipment is in use:

Magnetometer (Maggie) and floating boat for connection (can be different).

Scanfish EIVA + Magnetometers (Maggies).

Scanfish EIVA (damaged).

Who is interested about equipment and items prices can check items & prices here: EIVA

The work itself is calm enough, and the main objective is to adhere to the lines that the surveyors have provided from their container. The key concept is to maintain the line between various origins. As I've said before, survey operations are too susceptible to outside influences like the weather, vessel noises, and speed. The OOW's responsibility is to monitor all of the equipment and steer the boat with the proper offset in accordance with the wind and current. Our ship is equipped with a great autopilot called SIMRAD, which gives you the option to set up and offset for the route as well as operate in follow track mode. Everything else, including the track provided by the surveyors, should be maintained by OOW.


The survey screen looks like this. You have information, and you can see the line and deployed equipment on the screen. Your primary responsibility is to maintain the "FISH" on the line. Surveyors are providing you with an origin.  The majority of turns are made with manual steering, but there are some situations where an autopilot can follow effectively. This depends on the settings that you can discuss with the surveyor in order to give them directions on how to make the vessel turn more easily. In the beginning of this post is shown the set up example of the Survey vessel.

Author: Bogdan Oliinyk

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  • DP

Understanding Offshore Survey Jobs (Part 1)

Hi everyone! I’d like to talk about the job itself and some facts about Survey Operations. We all know that the wind farm sector is currently more popular than oil and gas. Let’s discuss some interesting topics, as you will decide at the conclusion of the discussion. First of all, what you need to know about Survey Operations? This job is performed before any constructions at sea, to find out seabed state, any UXO on the bottom etc. It can be government order to check blurring of sand close to port, or it can be serious UXO searching before construction of the windfarm.

Before I started working in survey, I had expertise with ROV operations. Comparably to those operations, survey is completely different. However, for some reason I found this job acceptable for me. At the same time, this is a significant problem for individuals who want to work in DP consoles because the DP system is only in use for brief periods of the processing – SVP (Sound Velocity Profile) deployment etc.

My experience started in dry dock. Our client installed special equipment on board our vessel. Let me share with you some specific staff to be used during projects on board survey vessels.

Almost everyone who has worked on DP vessels in the past has probably been in touch with over-side pole (USBL Pole / HPR Pole); therefore. On the lower portion, sensors have been fitted. We installed a Multi-beam (Plate) sensor for the first time along with an additional sensor that was the same as the HPR we already had on board (Red-Yellow). These sensors have been in use throughout all activities together with additional bottom-up data coverage and scanning equipment positioning on operational screens.

The overside pole is prepared for connection. We needed two weeks of dry docking for us to finish all the jobs, and in the end, we needed a few extra days to set up the equipment. Don’t forget about equipment-based sea trials for sure. However, we will discuss that in a moment. 

The mobilization’s main phase is still ongoing, so we began by loading the equipment specifically winches. Three winches and one drum are used on board our ship for seismic equipment.

Additionally, we had to wait for the spreader bar to be manufactured at Drydock and then put it on the A-Frame because it wasn't already installed on our A-Frame.

The spreader bar is mounted and all of the sheaves are prepared for usage in the image above.

Equipment recovery from the water is done using a tugger-winch, which is remotely controlled from a controller on the back deck.

Sheaves, the Tugger winch, and the spreader bar pad eyes all underwent load testing after installation was complete. All of the installed equipment has received BV-Class approval.

You can see from the image that the test using the water bag weight was successful.

Above, you can see how the configuration was built and the deck as seen from the stern. and the spreader-bar has sheaves mounted.

Each sheaf has undergone testing and inspection by a third party. Remember to verify all of the shackles and wires used for the project as part of the lifting-gear examination.

Seismic equipment on board, as I've already mentioned. To enable the deployment of gear from the side of the vessel, a unique boom arm was constructed for these tasks. Although not difficult, that construction needed some time to create and install. I'll spare you the details and just show you a picture.

This Boom-Arm was ultimately extended because the initial attempt to deploy it failed. On the end, only a minor addition has been welded. The initial total length of 5 meters increased to 7 meters.

Special parts have been added to the overside pole to lessen water sway. After a few tries, the HPR beacon changed, as seen in the image above. Clear data presentation and the absence of outside disruptions are crucial for survey work. Weather and vessel characteristics play a significant role in this task. For instance, in order to reduce noise during seismic operations, we used one azi-thruster. Throughout the entire project and data processing, special tests were conducted. Finding solutions that will please the client was quite difficult, but in the end, the data was good, therefore we succeeded.

Author: Bogdan Oliinyk

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  • DP

Vertical Reference Sensor (VRS) or Motion Reference Unit (MRU) – is a sensor, enabling the DP system to measure deviation angles of the vessel in relation to her vertical position. The difference is that VRS is a previous generation sensor, measuring Pitch and Roll only. MRU – is a modern one and is able to measure Pitch, Roll and Heave.

Even though the MRU sensors are fitted on board, on the DP console corresponding button can have ‘VRS’ designation. It does not matter, though, because the most important thing is their function. Both VRS and MRU can be called as ‘a motion sensor’, and its core is to measure deviation angle in relation to the vertical position – the term vertical reference comes from it. The DP system is provided with the information on deviation angle during rolling and pitching in order to apply correction to position reference systems data.


Take an example of the DGPS antenna when the vessel is in her vertical position, projection of the antenna’s position on the coordinate system corresponds to the vessel’s position. When the vessel heels, the antenna still transmits information about its position, however it does not correspond to the real position of the vessel. To improve accuracy in position fixing, the DP system applies correction to the position of antennas or sensitive elements of the reference systems, basing on the data fed by VRS/MRU.

On the basis of the information fed by the Wind sensor and data on the above-water part of the vessel, the DP system creates Wind Model. The correctness of the Wind Model depends on the accuracy of the wind measurement – if the sensor is sheltered from the wind by a mast or a platform,  it will provide incorrect data that will lead to misreckoning. The DP system will continue to keep the position of the vessel with the incorrect Wind Model, as well as to keep the position, if the Wind Sensor is switched off at all. In that case, wind force affecting the vessel will be fed to the DP Current along with the sea current and wave action, as an unknown external force.

The question may arise, why do we talk about importance of the Wind sensor, if the DP system is able to work without it? Before answering this question and look at the other situations with the Wind sensor, it is necessary to review the concept of Wind Feed Forward – the ability of the DP system to react quickly to the wind gust, developing the counteracting force.

In order to calculate hydrodynamic model of the vessel, the DP system requires thirty minutes (in theory), i.e. all information from the sensors and position reference systems is fed to the DP system, calculations are made, and as a result, the vessel keeps her position. Sometimes there is a sudden gust of the wind or a change of the wind direction, and the system still requires some time to calculate the model. To avoid loss of the position due to wind gusts, there is a function Wind Feed Forward in the DP system. As soon as the Wind sensor provides the data on a sudden wind change, the DP system sends the signal directly to the thrusters to develop counter thrust bypassing mathematic modelling. Thus, loss of the vessel’s position will be minimum. If the gale is long lasting, the DP system will calculate hydrodynamic model of the vessel in accordance with these environmental conditions.

Answering the question above: the DP system is able to function without any information on the wind. In that case, the DP Current will include this force, along with the rest unknown external forces affecting the vessel. However, Wind Feed Forward requires operational Wind sensor. Now, when the idea of the Wind Feed Forward function is clear, it is necessary to mention that such characteristic of the DP system shall be considered during helicopter operations, as the air flow from the propeller blades may hit the Wind sensor, the DP system will take it for the gust and develop the thrust. It is clear that no forces are affecting the vessel and she will move away from the position. If the vessel is near the rig or platform, it may result in collision. That is why Wind sensors in the DP system are switched off during helicopter operations.

Another disadvantage of the Wind Feed Forward function needed to be considered is when Wind sensors in the mast are measuring full wind while the vessels hull is in sheltered area. This gives over-compensation from the DP system and as a result the positioning will be unstable. Such vessel behavior can be solved by disabling all Wind sensors. In this case, DP system will use the average data from the last enabled Wind sensor.


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  • DP