What are the Primary Duties of Officer on Watch (OOW) on Ship’s Bridge?

A deck officer assigned with the duties of watch keeping and navigation on a ship’s bridge is known as the officer on watch (OOW). While keeping a watch on the bridge he is the representative of the ship’s master and has the total responsibility of safe and smooth navigation of the ship.

  Officer on Watch (OOW) is also in charge of the bridge team, which is there to support him in the navigation process. He is also responsible to ensure that the ship complies with COLREGS and all the orders of the master are followed with utmost safety under all conditions.

The three main duties of an officer on watch (OOW) are:

  • Navigation
  • Watch keeping
  • GMDSS radio watch keeping

A list of main duties of an officer on watch (OOW) is provided below. However, this is not an exhaustive list and the duties may change according to the requirements.

 Duties of OOW

  • Maintaining a proper watch along with general surveillance of the ship
  • Monitoring and recording all bridge activities
  • Checking navigational equipment in use at regular interval of time
  • Following a proper navigation plan to avoid any kind of collision according to COLREGS
  • Must know how to use Automatic Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA)
  • Must know how to use Electronic Chart and Display System (ECDIS)
  • Should be conversant with the ship’s speed, turning circles, and ship handling characteristics
  • Keep a continuous watch on GMDSS radio for any kind of distress or general signals
  • Prepare, execute, and monitor a safe passage plan
  • Ensure handing over of the watch is done according to shipboard operation procedures
  • Asking for support whenever required
  • Contact master when need arise
  • Should be fully aware of all safety equipment on board ship
  • Must use helm and signalling apparatus whenever required
  • Must know how to use all equipment meant for prevention of pollution at the sea and safety of lives
  • Should not leave the bridge unattended during his watch

 These are the primary duties of any officer of watch at the bridge. However, there would also be additional duties allotted to the officer depending on his rank.


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