Thursday, January 27, 2011

Captain's Blog 1/27/11

One of my jobs aboard - I guess probably the most important - is the supervision of the bridge watch. We have one licensed mate up there with the cadets at all times, and the cadet watch includes at least four seniors, five sophomores and seven freshmen. The cadets are rotating through jobs as important as the Cadet Officer of the Watch, down to the lowly Bridge Messenger. All important, since they have evolved over about a hundred years on how MMA manages a deck watch.

Last night I get a call from the Cadet Officer of the Watch about a traffic situation. These calls come quite frequently, as my standing orders are designed to prompt such conferences. This is intended to help prepare the new Third Mates for the dreaded call to the captain. As you might guess, I have plenty of questions when they call, and I expect detailed and correct responses.

The call came early enough that the office telephone was used - as opposed to the sound-powered telephone to my stateroom. Being at my desk I could quickly see the situation as displayed on the ECDIS repeater in my office. The exact image of the Bridge Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) that the cadet on the bridge is looking at is also on my desk (incidentally, it is also displayed in all the mess decks for cadets and crew to see too).

To make a long story short the situation was quite easy: a head-on situation described in Rule 14 of the Rules of the Road. But the cadet in charge decided to not follow the specific rules of two power-driven vessels meeting. (The mate reported to me that the cadet went beyond what they discussed in the pre-telephone call discussion.) I went to the bridge to correct the situation, and the conversation was one-sided. It was both a stressful example for learning, but also a meaningful lesson. All the cadets up there will not soon forget the lecture they received.

I, on the other hand, had a fitful nights rest, never wanting to have to go to the bridge with such a corrective ambition.

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