Category Archives: COLREGS

SOLAS V and Navigational Bridge Design

Container Ship Bridge at Portsmouth

A Handy Summary

This series of posts on SOLAS V, Safety of navigation now explores a group of regulations concerned with the navigational bridge. 

What Regulation covers Navigational Bridge Design?

SOLAS Regulation 15 – ‘Principles Relating to Bridge Design, Design and Arrangement of Navigational Systems and Equipment and Bridge Procedures.‘ The principles in this Regulation must be taken into account when complying with the following SOLAS regulations:

  • 19-Carriage requirements for shipborne navigational systems and equipment
  • 22-Navigation bridge visibility
  • 24-Use of heading and/or track control systems
  • 25-Operation of main source of electrical power and steering gear
  • 27-Nautical charts and nautical publications
  • 28-Records of navigational activities and daily reporting

These regulations will be covered in later posts.

What are the principles of Navigational Bridge Design?

Bridge of a Fyffe ship

Bridge design must:

Appraisal-Facilitate the tasks to be performed by the bridge team and the pilot in making full appraisal of the situation and in navigating the ship safely under all  conditions.

Bridge Resources-Promote effective and safe bridge resource management.

Information access-Enable the bridge team and the pilot to have convenient and continuous access to essential information.

Information presentation-Present information in a clear and unambiguous manner, using standardized symbols for controls and displays.

Status indication-Indicate the operational status of automated functions and integrated components and systems.

Decision making-Allow for expeditious, continuous and effective information processing and decision-making by the bridge team and the pilot.

Distractions-Prevent or minimize excessive or unnecessary work and any conditions or distractions on the bridge which may cause fatigue or interfere with the vigilance of the bridge team and the pilot.

Human error-Minimize the risk of human error and detecting such error, if it occurs, through monitoring and alarm systems, in time for the bridge team and the pilot to take appropriate action.

Click here for the UK MCA guidance on Regulation 15, and the text of the regulation> 

Rule 5 of the Collision Regulations

These design principles support the most important rule in the COLREGS, Rule 5

“Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight an

Click to view this Handy Revision Guide for Kindle on Amazon

d hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and or the risk of collision.”

Where to look for more detailed information

The broad principles of Regulation 15 will be expanded with some practical detail in tne next post when I dig into Circular 982.

Further Reading

To find copies of the Bridge Procedures Guide on Amazon click here>

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COLREG Part F-some new Rules

Collision Regulations Rules 39, 40 and 41

Verification of Compliance


A quick pause before commencing the next topic on ship certification to have a look at a change in the Collision Regulations introduced in January 2016.  This change introduced a complete new section to the rules; section F.  Section F is concerned with flag state implementation of the Convention, and will have no direct impact on vessels at sea.



Rule 39 Definitions

(a) Audit means a systematic, independent and documented process for obtaining audit evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which audit criteria are fulfilled.

(b) Audit Scheme means the IMO Member State Audit Scheme established by the Organization and taking into account the guidelines developed by the Organization.

(c) Code for Implementation means the IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code) adopted by the Organization by resolution A.1070(28). (d) Audit Standard means the Code for Implementation.

Rule 40 Application

Contracting Parties shall use the provisions of the Code for Implementation in the execution of their obligations and responsibilities contained in the present Convention.

Rule 41 Verification of compliance

(a) Every Contracting Party shall be subject to periodic audits by the Organization in accordance with the audit standard to verify compliance with and implementation of the present Convention.

(b) The Secretary-General of the Organization shall have responsibility for administering the Audit Scheme, based on the guidelines developed by the Organization.

(c) Every Contracting Party shall have responsibility for facilitating the conduct of the audit and implementation of a programme of actions to address the findings, based on the guidelines developed by the Organization.

(d) Audit of all Contracting Parties shall be:

(i) based on an overall schedule developed by the Secretary-General of the Organization, taking into account the guidelines developed by the Organization; and

(ii) conducted at periodic intervals, taking into account the guidelines developed by the Organization.


The Kindle Book Shelf of COLREG Books

For some Really Handy Revision Guides to the Collsion Regulations, click here>







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Top ten MGNs for officer of the watches


UK Marine Guidance Notices  (MGNs) are excellent sources of information for anyone studying for Officer of Watch examinations, even for those not sailing under the British flag. Here are the top ten of the Notices covering OOW topics.

Follow the links to read the notice.

The top ten UK Marine Guidence notes for the officer of the watch.  (Feb 2016)

1 MGN 315 (M) – Keeping a Safe Navigational Watch on Merchant Vessels

2 MGN 369 (M+F) – Navigation: Navigation in Restricted Visibility

3 MGN 379 (M+F) – Navigation: Use of Electronic Navigation Aids

4 MGN 137 (M+F) – Look-out During Periods of Darkness and Restricted Visibility

5 MGN 357 (M+F) – Night-time lookout – Photochromic Lenses and Dark Adaptation

6 MGN 199 (M) – Dangers of interaction

7 MGN 299 (M+F) – Interference with Safe Navigation through Inappropriate Use of Mobile Phones

8 MGN 372 (M+F) – Offshore Renewable Energy Installations (OREIs): Guidance to Mariners Operating in the Vicinity of UK OREIs

9 MGN 364 (M+F) – Navigation: Traffic Separation Schemes – Application of Rule 10 and Navigation in the Dover Strait

10 MGN 301 (M+F) – Manoeuvring Information on Board Ships

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OOW Question-Fitness for Duty-The Answer


Question: Who can be an officer of the watch (OOW)

Answer: An officer in charge of a navigational watch shall be qualified in accordance with the requirements of STCW 95. Under no circumstances is it permitted for an un-qualified person to take charge of a navigational watch

Note-It is the responsibility of the owner or operator, and Master to ensure that every navigational watchkeeping officer is appropriately qualified with respect to the size of the vessel and limitations in the area of operation.

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OOW Question- Who can be the officer of a watch?


These series of questions now move on to the subject of fitness for duty as officer of the watch.

Question: Who can be an officer of the watch (OOW)?

A bit of Revision

Rule 7 Risk of Collision
(a) Every vessel shall use all available means appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions to determine if risk of collision exists. If there is any doubt such risk shall be deemed to exist.


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COLREG weekly question- Sole lookout-The Answer

Question: What is the UK’s MCA’s view on the use of the OOW as sole lookout?


Answer: The MCA considers it dangerous and irresponsible for the OOW to act as sole look-out during periods of darkness or restricted visibility.

Note-The UK M Notice MGN 137 covers the subject of Look-out during periods of darkness and restricted visibility. Some of the key points from this notice are:

Ships are not operate with the OOW as the sole lookout during periods of Darkness

An additional lookout should be posted at any other times during restricted visibility or when the prevailing circumstances require.

All ships must maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions, so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.

Failure to maintain proper look can result in prosecution, including custodial sentence.

Watchkeeping arrangements for the ship are at all times adequate for maintaining safe navigational watches, having regard to the STCW Code.

For some Really Handy Kindle Books to learn and revise the Collision Regulations click here.

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COLREG weekly question-Sole lookout


This week’s question is the final one of the general OOW questions, next week the posts will be moving on to ‘fitness for duty’.

Question: What is the MCA’s view on the use of the OOW as sole lookout?

Whilst pondering on the answer have a quick revision of this paragraph of Rule 3, Definitions:

(l) The term “restricted visibility” means any condition in which visibility is restricted by fog, mist, falling snow, heavy rainstorms, sandstorms or any other similar causes.


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OOW weekly Answer-When can the OOW use the vessel’s engines?


Question: When can you as officer of the watch use the vessel’s engines?

Answer: The vessel’s engines are at your disposal as  the OOW, and there should be no hesitation in using them in case of need. Where possible, timely notice of intended variations of engine speed should be given to the duty engineer.

Note– As OOW you should know the handling characteristics of the vessel, including its stopping distance, and should appreciate that other vessels may have different handling


A reminder- Rule 8 States:

(e) If necessary to avoid collision or allow more time to assess the situation, a vessel shall slacken her speed or take all way off by stopping or reversing her means of propulsion.

For the “Really Handy Books To learn the collision regulations click here>

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Weekly COLREG question-When can the OOW use the vessel’s engines?


Before the second of the general Officer of the watch questions, here is a reminder of the words of the most important COLREG rule- Rule 5 Look out.

Rule 5-Lookout Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper lookout by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and risk of collision

Question: When can you use the vessel’s engines as OOW?

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Officer of the watch prime responsibilities-The Answer


This week’s question was-What are the officer of the watch’s two prime responsibilities?

Answer: As the Master’s representative the OOW  is primarily responsible at all times for the safe navigation of the vessel and for complying with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions At Sea.

-Safe Navigation
-Compliance with the COLREGS

Note-The OOW shall also be aware of the serious effects of pollution of the marine environment and shall take all possible precautions to prevent such pollution.


Rule 1 (a) These rules shall apply to all vessels upon the high seas and in all waters connected therewith navigable by sea going vessels.

The answer to the bonus question was that the vessel is Not Under Command.

Two balls=NUC.

For some Really Handy Kindle books to learn the Collision Regulations Click here


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