What you need to know about the Engineer of Watch responsibilities

I have received lately a lot of questions about the Engineer of Watch (EOW) responsibilities and have decided to write a guide about what they need to know and do once they are onboard vessel and all responsibilities have been handed over to them.

When deciding the composition of the engineering watch, the following, but not limited to, shall be taken into account:

      • the type of vessel and condition of the machinery
      • the adequate supervision, at all times, of machinery affecting the safe operation of the vessel
      • any special modes of operation dictated by conditions such as weather, ice, contaminated water, shallow water, emergency conditions, damage containment or pollution
      • the qualifications and experience of the engineering team
      • the safety, vessel, cargo, port and protection of the environment
      • follow the PMS and updating the system with required jobs
      • the observance of international, national and local regulations
      • maintaining the normal operation of the vessel.

Prior to taking over the engineering watch the relieving EOW shall familiarize themselves regarding following but not limited to:

      • standing orders and special instructions from the chief engineer
      • the nature of all work being performed on machinery and other systems
      • the level and condition of all tanks
      • the condition and level of fuel in the different tanks
      • any special Environmental requirements
      • condition and mode of various machinery and systems
      • which mode different machinery and equipment is operated in and which equipment is being operated manually.
      • any issues which can arise from bad weather, ice, contaminated water, shallow water, or any other adverse condition
      • any special modes of operation dictated by equipment failure or adverse vessel conditions
      • the reports of engine room ratings relating to their assigned duties
      • the condition of safety equipment
      • the state of completion of the different engine room log books.

Firstly, the EOW must understand that is the chief engineer’s representative and is primarily responsible, at all times, for the safe and efficient operation of all machinery and equipment under the responsibility of the engineering department. There is always a confusion, when most of junior engineers tend to wrongly believe that only Chief Engineer is responsible for the above mentioned. Once you have been appointed as EOW you become fully responsible, in charge of the watch and you are only relived if the chief engineer clearly states this.

The EOW shall not be assigned or undertake any duties which would interfere with their supervisory duties in respect of the main propulsion system and ancillary equipment. This doesn’t mean that you don’t suppose to do anything during your watch, but to ensure that you keep the main propulsion plant and auxiliary systems under constant supervision and ensure that adequate rounds of the machinery and steering gear spaces are made for observing and reporting equipment malfunctions or breakdowns, performing or directing routine adjustments, required upkeep and any other necessary tasks until properly relieved.

You shall ensure that environmental areas are complied with as per MARPOL, SECA, flag state, port state, or other local regulations, to be aware when discharge is allowed or not and any other applicable regulations for the current trading area and follow manufacturer’s suggestions when changing between different fuel types in SECA regions.

You shall cooperate with any engineer carrying out maintenance work or repairs. This shall include, but not necessarily be limited to:

      • isolating and bypassing machinery to be worked on
      • adjusting the remaining plant to function adequately and safely during the maintenance period
      • recording, in the engine room log or other suitable document, the equipment worked on and the personnel involved, which safety steps have been taken and by whom, testing of the equipment, when the equipment was repaired.

During your watch  you are responsible for inspections, operation, and testing of
all machinery and equipment. Complying with the PMS, following weekly routines, greasing routines, alarm tests and analyses. You will be involved in the planning of detailed repair maintenance involving repairs to electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic or applicable electronic equipment.

You shall give all engine room crew appropriate instructions and information which will ensure the keeping of a safe engineering watch and direct any other engine room crew and inform them of potentially hazardous conditions which may adversely affect the machinery or jeopardize safety or the environment.

As EOW you shall follow risk assessments and work permits and have sufficient knowledge about all emergency duties and emergency equipment. You shall bear in mind that changes in speed, resulting from machinery malfunction, or any loss of steering, may affect safety. The bridge shall be immediately notified, in the event of fire and of any impending action in machinery spaces that may cause reduction in the vessel’s speed. This notification, where possible, shall be done before changes are made, in order to afford the bridge the maximum available time to take whatever action is possible to avoid a potential marine casualty and shall promptly execute bridge orders.

In the same time shall take the necessary precautions to contain the effects of damage resulting from equipment breakdown, fire, flooding, rupture, collision, stranding, or any other emergency and shall not hesitate to take immediate action for the safety of the vessel, its machinery, crew and the environment where circumstances require, despite the requirement to notify the chief engineer. You must ensure that any engine room ratings carrying out maintenance duties are available to assist in the manual operation of the machinery in the event of equipment failure.

As an EOW you shall notify the chief engineer without delay but not limited to:

      • when engine damage or malfunction occurs which may affect safety or the environment
      • when any malfunction occurs which may cause damage or breakdown of critical machinery
      • in any emergency situation or if there is any doubt as to what decisions or measures to take in accordance with the chief engineer’s standing orders or SMS.

You must ensure that the bridge is informed when the engine control will be operating under UMS and which EOW is responsible, ensure that the dead man alarm is used when working in the engine room operating under UMS and that SMS procedures and Chief Engineer’s Standing orders regarding UMS are followed.

In case of any machinery failure that will impede with the condition of engine room to go unmanned, the EOW shall ensure that established watchkeeping arrangements are maintained and is responsible, at all time, for the safe and efficient operation of the vessel and protection of the environment.

The last, but not the least important, the EOW shall not hand over the watch to the relieving EOW if there is reason to believe that the latter is obviously not capable of carrying out the watchkeeping duties effectively, in which case the chief engineer shall be immediately notified.

If you have any questions regarding above, please feel free to use our existing forum Seafarer’s World and will try to answer to all your queries. You can use the feedback button as well!

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Source and Bibliography:

  • International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, 1978, as amended in 2010 as per the Manila amendments (STCW-Convention).

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