The Chief Officer rank is the second in command after the ship captain. The chief officer, also called chief mate (for short “CO” or “CM”), is a managerial and licensed position onboard the ship that oversees the total welfare of the crews on board.
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CHIEF OFFICER
Since The rank of the chief officer is a managerial position, it is engrossed with so many duties and responsibilities which are but not limited to;
- Watchkeeping: the chief officer is also a watchkeeper. This may depend on the type of vessel, company policy, and manpower availability onboard for the navigational watch.
- Cargo officer: the chief officer oversees the cargo operation of the ship during loading and discharge operations.
- Safety officer: the main safety officer on board a vessel is a chief officer. Sometimes due to the many duties attached to the chief officer, the third officer is appointed to assist. The duties are to maintain and repair all life-saving appliances & equipment, fire fighting equipment, Etc.
- Oversees all deck ratings & jobs: the chief officer oversees the deck ratings and assigns jobs on deck as per the Planned Maintenance System (PMS)
- Garbage management: to make the vessel complies with the MARPOL regulations on the garbage disposal, the chief officer oversees the garbage management onboard.
- Training officer: the chief officer is in-charge of drills such as man overboard, enclosed space, fire fighting, abandon ship, and other onboard training. The chief officer has to train other ships’ crew on board, especially the cadet, in order to help them get good knowledge and comply with regulations of the maritime bodies, company policy, and the mode of operation of the ship for the effective and safe operation of the vessel.
- Ballast operation: the chief officer ensures the ship is properly ballasted & deballast and that proper documentation is made according to ship stability.
- Mooring & anchoring officer: the chief officer in charge of the forward mooring station where he or she directs the deck rating for the safe mooring of the ship. Also, the chief officer oversees the anchoring operation of the ship.
- Paperworks: some paperwork and documentation such as pre-cargo transfer documents, ship stability, ballast, ship/ shore safety checks documentation Etc are handled by the chief officer.
The Chief Officer can stand in place of authority when the captain is not available.
The license of the chief officer is a managerial license that is issued in accordance with the provision of the STCW Regulation II/2.
BECOMING A CHIEF OFFICER
To be a chief officer, it is required that person should or must have worked and got sea experience as a second officer for at least 12 months which qualifies the person for eligibility certification from the maritime authority to sit the license examination of the chief officer.
- Workstation: the chief officer works on the bridge (wheelhouse) during navigational watch, on deck during maintenance and deck operations as mooring, and in the cargo control room (CCR) during cargo and ballasting operations.
- Working/ rest hour: The watch hours are usually 0400H-0800H & 1600H-2000H. During ships operations such as the cargo operation, the chief officer works as a daysman with the workings hours of 0800H-1700H.
- Uniform: during maintenance, deck, and cargo operations, the chief officer wears the complete PPE while during navigational watch the typical working attire, which is the white shirt with an Epaulets to indicate the rank of a chief officer (3 bars or stripes with anchor or diamond shape) on both shoulders and a black trouser.