Important Points Officer on Watch (OOW) Must Consider While Handling Ship’s Radar


The officer on watch (OOW) on the ship’s bridge should be familiar with the working of all navigational equipment used on the ship. He should also be aware of the procedure for trouble shooting in case any equipment fails.


The radar is one of the most important navigational tools used on the ship. It should be kept running all the time and must undergo periodic tests to check presence of any operational error.

However, there are certain points that the officer on watch (OOW) should be aware of while operating the radar. This would not only ensure smooth running of the radar but also prevent sacrificing ship’s safety.

Points to note while handling ship’s radar:

  • The officer on watch should keep a close watch on the ship’s course as sometimes small vessels, objects, and ice may not be detected
  • Shadow and blind sectors should also be taken care of while navigating by ship’s radar
  • Plotting of targets should be done at longer range
  • The officer must use multiple plotting to increase accuracy
  • Detection of small targets is better at short range
  • The officer on watch should know how to handle video processing techniques
  • Long range should be used to get advance notice of approaching vessels, ports, and obstacles
  • While deciding the range scale two things should be kept in mind –ship traffic in the region and ship’s speed
  • Radar operation should be efficiently practiced in clear weather. This helps the operator to get a better idea about radar observations and target vectors during restricted visibility
  • The officer on watch should also consider re-plotting or re-checking when there is a change in ship’s speed or course
  • The officer should keep a watch on the variable range market, fixed range lines and electronic bearing lines
  • Safe speed of the ship should be decided after using long range to detect approaching vessels and land
  • The operating officer must know how to use clutter control to avoid unclear objects
  • Heading marker should be properly aligned with the fore and aft of the ship and also with the compass heading
  • The parallel index lines should be set correctly
  • The officer on watch must check for any gyro error and accuracy of the heading line arrangement
  • If a performance monitor is fitted, the quality of the performance must be checked at regular intervals of time
  • The officer must check the identity of the fixed object under consideration
  • While deciding the closest point of approach (CPA) to avoid collision of the ship, factors such as course, speed, and aspect of the target should be taken into account. Other important aspects of the ship should also be considered to mark the CPA correctly

This is not an exhaustive list, but the above mentioned points should be considered without fail while handling a ship’s radar. Do you know any other important points that should be taken into consideration?


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