What are the Duties of Chief Officer?

The operation of a ship is a result of the excellent team work 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 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. He is one of the four management level officers on the ship who report directly to the captain and is second in command after the master of the ship.

Important duties of a ship’s Chief Officer includes

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. His duties includes administration task of scheduling and distributing work to deck crew.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

16.  He is the overall safety in charge for the deck crew.

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

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