What Are The Duties Of A Ship’s Lookout?

The officer on duty assigned watch and navigation duties on the bridge of a ship is called the officer on watch (OOW). While guarding the bridge, he is the captain’s agent. And is fully responsible for the safe and smooth navigation of the ship. The officer on duty (OOW) is also responsible for the bridge team that supports navigation. She is also responsible for ensuring that the vessel complies with her COLREGS. And that the Master’s Master’s instructions are complied with with the utmost safety in all circumstances. His three main duties of an marine engineering can be categorized very broadly for  understanding as follows: 

  1. Navigation 
  2. Watch  
  3. GMDSS Radio 

The marine engineering. However, this is not a complete list, and tasks may change depending on your requirements. 

Compare the compasses

This is to ensure an accurate estimation window where compass errors can affect will be held. Of course, this needs to be controlled and corrected. In the event of a gyro failure, the OOW must be aware of the extent to which magnetic errors can affect the course being tracked/tracked. Comparing the repeaters also shows whether the repeater is aligned with the main gyro and whether it is displaying the correct readings needed when calculating the readings from the bridge or the compass error at azimuth.  

Check the acoustics of the depth sounder

Needless to say,  UKC and water depth are critical to the safe navigation of a vessel at any given time. Depth recordings are made as necessary according to the captain’s instructions, but the OOW must also take into account the errors of the sounder to ensure that accurate readings are obtained (as a general rule, please avoid In-depth reading). This is especially important in shallow waters, as not knowing the true depth can have disastrous consequences, including running the ship aground.

Make sure the lookout is alert

Not only the lookout but also the helmsman must be alert at all times. Rule 5 of COLREGS places particular emphasis on observation and states: “In order to fully assess the situation, all ships must maintain a suitable lookout marine engineering at all times, by sight and sound, and by all available means appropriate to the situation and conditions at the time.” and risk of collision” Again, the importance of this aspect is best illustrated by viewing the ship with limited visibility (COLREGS Regulation 19). The role of a lookout is the most important here.

Verify location

Marine engineering should verify the location recorded by the outgoing OOW rather than relying solely on the information displayed on the map. This is not a question to ask the OOW you submit, but it should be asked for personal confidence and re-verification to ensure no errors have occurred. This must be done to maximize the accuracy of the representation since valuable positions influence future positions.

Discussing with the outgoing

Because ship navigation is so dynamic, every situation always has some effect on the ship and can also help determine trends regarding the movement of the ship and its surroundings. Her current OOW will inform her outgoing staff about whether there has been any unusual activity,  changes in  CTS, what needs to be communicated or notified to the MasterMaster, weather warnings and reports, her VHF communications with other vessels, etc. You need to talk to OOW. OOW: Ask her outgoing OOW if she left verbal instructions for the captain or first officer to follow or night instructions that could be confusing.

Reading log entries

The OOW must read all log entries for the outgoing OOW before leaving the bridge. If you have any questions, you should ask the outgoing OOW for clarification. Remember that current bridge monitoring is the responsibility of the current OOW. This check and recheck should be performed to reduce the error rate as much as possible


The vessel’s draft should be displayed on the bridge so that the OOW can easily check it and update it if there is a change.

Gyro and its errors

Errors can occur on most devices on the bridge. While these are all important to consider, gyros are used at every moment of bridge monitoring to plan, execute, and monitor course and associated changes. Different gyro manufacturers require different inputs, and some gyros may require inputs. This means that  OOW must take precautions to ensure that appropriate actions are taken after errors are considered. Needless to say, this is all ultimately within the authority and jurisdiction of the captain


GMDSS watches are important for safety and must operate at specified frequencies according to regulations. Additionally, MSIs published via NAVTEX, SAT C EGC, or VHF must always be verified. Although the question of whether such information has an immediate effect on the vessel is not a primary task, the OOW must receive, read, and understand such messages and determine whether they have an immediate effect on the vessel.

General Ship Walk

Immediately after handing over the lookout, the relieved OOW took a walk around the ship and confirmed that fire safety was maintained, there were no signs of violations, and nothing unusual was present. To ensure that there are no unsecured items on board. Conditions of Accommodation Upon completion of such inspection, the outgoing Open Officer shall notify the current Open Officer that such inspection has been satisfactorily conducted and that there are no problems or if there are any problems.


 Additionally, the OOW must comply with the following: 

  1. Regularly check the navigation equipment being used.
  2. Follow the proper navigation plan according to COLREGS to avoid any kind of collision.
  3. Must know how to use Automatic Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA).
  4. Must know how to use the Electronic Chart and Display System “ECDIS.”
  5. Must be familiar with vessel speeds, turning circles, and maneuvering characteristics.
  6. Prepare, implement, and monitor safe transportation plans.
  7. Ensure that the handover of the watch is carried out in accordance with the Ship Operating Procedures (ISM).
  8. Questions to ask for assistance if necessary 
  9. Contact the MasterMaster if necessary 
  10. Must be fully aware of all safety equipment onboard the vessel 
  11. Control and signaling equipment, if required, you need to use. You must know how to use all equipment to prevent marine pollution and ensure the safety of human life.
  12. Do not leave the bridge unattended during surveillance.

The above is only a general approach to an marine engineering on a bridge. It is not possible to fully cover the full range of these obligations as many factors may apply depending on the type of vessel. For example, on tankers, the need to monitor IG-related information is in addition to existing obligations. The idea is that OOW has a complete understanding of the ship type and all the tasks involved. As mentioned earlier, due to the overall dynamics, OOW tasks are also dynamic.

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