New vessel joining guide

Joining your new ship

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This guide was formulated to help you look professional when joining a new vessel.


Getting the paperwork out of the way

You are generally required to sign the Ship’s Book. The Third Officer is usually assigned to ensure the Ship’s Book is completed. If you are in possession of a Seaman’s Discharge Book give it to the Third Officer, he is assigned to fill out the dates and attain the Commanding Officer’s signature

If you have not already, you will be asked to sign a contract for employment. The Chief Engineer or his delegate may present this to you. This is an important document, ask for a copy and do not loose it.

You are required to complete a Next of Kin notification form, the Commanding Officer keeps this file.

You will be assigned a cabin, learn your MUSTER DUTIES for FIRE / BOAT STATIONS these are posted above your bunk. You must make yourself familiar with these. EMERGENCIES can happen at any time.


Lines of authority

The vessel’s Commanding Officer is overall in charge at all times.

The remaining authority consists of three departments:

  • Deck Department
  • Engine Room Department
  • Supply Department

The structure of the Deck Department is as follows:

First Officer
Second Officer
Third Officer-
Leading Seaman
Leading Seaman

The structure of the Engine Room Department is as follows:

Chief Engineer
Second Engineer
Third Engineer

The structure of the Supply Department is as follows:

Second Cook

In the event of an EMERGENCY you can contact any ship’s Officer.
In the event of a FIRE, activate the closest FIRE PULL STATION and contact the BRIDGE IMMEDIATELY.
During MUSTER STATIONS and DRILLS follow the orders of the Officer in charge.


The first watch

If you require issue gear i.e. coveralls, hearing protection, ask the Chief or Second Engineer.

During your first watch, become familiar with the following;

  • Engine room alarms, sirens and flashing lights, (special attention to Halon alarm).
  • All engine room, machinery control room, workshop and steering gear escapes.
  • All engine room communication equipment.
  • The locations of escape breathing apparatuses.
  • The locations of fire alarm pull stations, fire hydrant stations and extinguishers.
  • The operation of the fire and bilge pumps.
  • The manual and power operation of watertight doors.
  • The hand operation of the steering gear.

You will also be required to read and sign the Commanding Officer’s and Chief Engineer’s Standing Orders. If you have any questions about the chief's standing orders, do not hesitate to ask. Below is an example of typical standing orders.

  1. All E/R Personnel should become knowledgeable in the Canadian Standard for Engineering Watchkeeping on Ships (1984) and the ship’s Engine Room Procedures and Work Instructions Manual.
  2. Engine room personnel are to conduct themselves in a sober and conscientious manner, which will reflect the standards and expectation of XCompany employees and the Engine Room Department in particular.
  3. Personnel are to observe safe-working practices at all times. Certified protective clothing is to be utilized when required. The safety standard set out in Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (Canada Labor Code Part IV), WHMIS Regulations, Canada Shipping Act (Standard for Safe Working Practices, Tackle Reg., etc.), and any other pertinent standards or regulations, are to be followed at all times.
  4. All personnel, immediately upon joining the vessel, are to familiarize themselves with their emergency duties, and all ship’s emergency equipment.
  5. All injuries, no matter how minor, are to be reported to the supervisor immediately and entered into Chief Engineer’s E/R logbook.
  6. Dirty work clothes and coveralls are not to be worn in the mess or the lounges.
  7. The engine room spaces are to be kept clean and tidy at all times. Tools are to be put away clean. Lost or deficient tools are to be reported to the Senior Engineer, and entered in the "Want Book" for replacement.
  8. Engine room and machinery spaces painting are to follow existing paint color schemes and Coast Guard piping color coding. There is no change unless approved by the Chief Engineer.
  9. Absolutely NO Smoking is allowed in MCR (motor control room).
  10. All engine room personnel are expected to be honest, helpful and caring to all other fellow shipboard personnel and be part of an exemplary team.

Watch Procedures

  1. Watch changes are to be conducted in the Machinery Control Room (MCR). The oncoming watch is to relieve the watch at no later than 10 minutes to the hour. The off going watchkeeper is to ensure that his relief has read the logbook and been informed of any machinery problems or observations before leaving the MCR.
  2. At least one watch keeper is to be in the engine room at all times. On standby, at one watchkeeper is to be in the MCR, and at one watchkeeper is to be in the E/R space.
  3. Complete rounds of the E/R machinery spaces and all machinery spaces are to be conducted regularly.
  4. Engine hour meter readings are to be recorded at 2400 hrs. each day;
  5. Each day at 2400 hrs: Fuel flow meter readings are to be taken and recorded. Water tank soundings are to be taken and recorded, along with water production readings.
    A Day Tank sample is to be taken at 0600 hrs each day to check for water and sediment.
    A complete set of tank soundings is to be taken at least once a week.
  6. E/R logbook readings are to be taken and recorded at least once in every 6 hours. Main engine readings are to be taken and recorded whenever main engines are run for a total of one hour or more, during the watch. All readings are to be taken from local gauges wherever possible.
  7. Entries into the OIL RECORD BOOK are to be made in accordance with the instructions at the front of the book. Transfer of fuel and ballast are to be also entered into the Fuel and Ballast Log.
  8. The C/E’s Logbook entries are to be made in a clear and concise manner. Non-erasable pen is to be used and mistakes are to be corrected with a single line through the error, and the correction is to be initialed.
    The log is to be used to record pertinent machinery and running observations, TC-Marine Safety Board inspections, and injury on duty, fire and boat drills, etc.
    All other E/R activities except routine cleaning should be recorded in the Daily Work Book.
  9. All off-watch personnel and visitors to the engine room are to report their presence in the machinery space to the watchkeeping engineer prior to entry.
  10. The Chief Engineer is to be notified whenever there exists a significant problem with the propulsion or electrical generation equipment;
  11. The Chief Engineer is to be notified whenever the vessel is entering or leaving port or whenever the ship is transiting hazardous passages, so the Chief Engineer may be present in the Control Room.


Things to remember when leaving the ship

  • You must sign off the Ship’s Book. Contact the Third Officer, ask for your Seaman’s Discharge Book and ensure it is completed.
  • The Chief Engineer will ask you to sign a pay sheet, keep the copy he gives you, this is your proof of the hours you have worked.
  • The Chief Engineer will give you a Testimonial of Sea Service. This document is proof of your sea service, and is required by Ship Safety to qualify for Engineering Certification examinations. They are very hard to track down after you have left the vessel.
  • If you are required to leave the vessel due to a work injury be sure to complete an Employee’s Accident Report, and keep a copy for reference.
  • If you would like a letter of reference, you should inform the Chief Engineer during the last week of the trip.
  • Ensure that all your issue gear is returned. i.e. Coveralls, hearing protectors etc.
  • Ensure your cabin has been cleaned. Dirty linen goes into bags, ask the Steward where to put it.