General Procedure of Preparing Ships for Entering Ports

“Arrival at port” and “Departure from port” are two extremely important aspects of a ship’s voyage. Both these procedures are considered critical because of a number of complexities involved with them. Both engine and deck department have to prepare themselves well in advance in order to ensure safety of the ship and the crew.


Before arriving at a port, the ship’s crew has to plan and discuss all the matters that would be required for safe berthing and cargo operation of the ship at the port.

In this article, we have provided a general overview of the guidelines that are to be followed before entering a port. Kindly note that the below mentioned is not an exhaustive list, and the officers in charge must use their knowledge and skills in order to ensure safe manoeuvring and berthing of the ship. It is also imperative that the navigation officer thoroughly know his duties.

Before Entering a Port

The master of the ship will inform well in advance the “time of arrival” of the ship to the chief officer and the chief engineer. If needed, a meeting would be arranged with the senior officers or the officers in charge to discuss all matters necessary for ship’s arrival at the port.

Once this is done, the officer-in-charge would check the conditions of all the items mentioned in the “checklist for entering ports”. The results of the checking procedure would be mentioned in the deck log book.

All officers including deck cadets and crew members are assigned duties during berthing of the ship. According to the orders of the master, all those involved with the berthing procedure would be assigned a “position” to carry out the duties and to guide the ship operations.

Deck Department

A general plan involving stations for entering the port would involve

  • Master taking the control of the vessel at the bridge, accompanied by the third engineer
  • Chief Officer at the ship’s bow to command and guide the forward station
  • The second officer at the aft to command the aft station (However, this can change if master has other duties for the second officer)
  • Deck crew members will be asked by the second or chief officer to assist in the berthing procedure
  • Additional deck crew members can be asked to carry out the job of a lookout by the master whenever necessary
  • The Bosun would generally assist the chief officer

Check Out Full Ship Arrival Checklist for the Bridge Department

Engine Department

A general plan for engine room department for entering port would involve

  • Chief engineer taking the control of the engine room
  • First/Second engineer can also be asked to be in the engine room and command subordinates for operating machinery systems
  • Third and fourth engineer can be asked to be stationed at particular places in the engine room according to the orders of chief or second engineer
  • Junior engineer would assist senior engineers and would take rounds of the engine room according to the orders of second engineer
  • Motorman/Pump man would assist in engine room operations under the supervision of senior engineers
  • Other engine room ratings can be assigned duties by the chief engineer if required

It is to note that the main engine astern testing should be carried out every time before entering any port. The testing is generally done before the pilot board the ship.

Check Out the Full Checklist for Port Arrival Procedure for Engine Room Department

Apart from the above mentioned procedures, all important machinery systems such as steering gear, generators, important navigation equipment etc. must be tried and tested before the actual manoeuvring process begins.


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