Sunday, December 2, 2007


The applicable sections of the Code of Federal Regulations are excerpted to show the information required on the posted card, and the minimum information that should be presented to the pilot on the recommended wallet-size card. Several other items should also be included, such as the ship's length, beam, displacement, horsepower, and the distance from the bridge to the bow and stern, distance from the bridge at which visibility is restricted, the present draft, and a check-off list showing the operating condition of the engine, radar, and other navigational equipment, the bow thruster, and any other items pertinent to your particular vessel.

The information required by law is general in nature and is for deeper water than the pilot would ordinarily be interested in. Since the data is for specific conditions, and is too often based on calculations or model tests, it is of limited use at best. It is obvious that the master should collect his own data based on actual trials that he will have conducted at the earliest available opportunity after taking command of a new vessel. Since there have been so few actual trials under shallow water conditions, any data derived by calculation, or from simulations based on such calculations, should only be considered as being a good approximation of a vessel's performance. As stated in the Code of Federal Regulations:
Aboard each ocean and coastwise tankship of 1600 gross tons or over, the following maneuvering information must be prominently dis­played in the pilothouse on a fact sheet.

(1) For full and half speed, a turning circle diagram to port and star­board that shows the time and the distance of advance and trans­fer required to alter the course 90 degrees with maximum rudder angle and constant power settings.
(2) The time and distance to stop the vessel from full and half speed while maintaining approximately the initial heading with mini­mum application of rudder.
(3) For each vessel with a fixed propeller, a table of shaft revolutions per minute for a representative range of speeds.
(4) For each vessel with a controllable pitch propeller, a table of control settings for a representative range of speeds.
(5) For each vessel that is fitted with an auxiliary device to assist in maneuvering, such as a bow thruster, a table of vessel speeds at which the auxiliary device is effective in maneuvering the vessel.
(6) The maneuvering information must be provided for the normal load and normal ballast condition for:
(i) Calm weather-wind 10 knots or less, calm sea; No current;
(iii) Deep water conditions-water depth twice the vessel's draft or greater; and
(iv) Clean hull.
(7) At the bottom of the fact sheet, the following statement must appear: WARNING

When you are sure that the pilot is fully briefed, and only then, can the conn be turned over to him. For some reason, it is the custom aboard too many ships to have the ship on full ahead and on the general heading for the channel when the pilot gets to the bridge. The turnover of the conn then consists of, "She is on full and heading 330, pilot." Too many masters think that the faster the change over takes place, the more professionally it has been done. Ridiculous! And that is just how the pilot involved in such a turnover feels about it. Give the pilot sufficient time to get his eyes adjusted to the night, gather all the needed information, and then turn the conn over to him. A professional is never in a hurry to do anything aboard ship, yet more often than not aboard the merchant ships of most nationalities this hurried evolution takes place.