The London P&I Club says its ship inspection department has recently observed a number of negative findings in connection with masters’ night order books. In the latest issue of its StopLoss Bulletin, the club notes, “The value of masters’ night orders should not be under-estimated in the quest for the efficient and safe performance of a ship, particularly during port calls. Invariably, deep-sea masters function as ‘day- workers’ and, with an early morning ETA at the pilot station, there is a great deal for ships’ officers andcrew to prepare after a long voyage.

Efficient planning in advance can help an operation to be carried out in a controlled and safe manner with the minimum of stress for all parties.The master’s night orders are traditionally a set of bespoke instructions for overnight bridge officers to digest and act upon to ensure that, by the time a ship reaches the pilot station, all required crew are at their stations and all physical preparations are made, and the ship is in all respects ready to enter port.

The club says, “When writing night orders, there are a number of points which could be included in the instructions to be considered by the master. These include calling the master with sufficient time available to appraise the full navigational situation and to develop proper night vision before reaching the pilot station or taking the con, and calling the pilot station to confirm ETA and berthing prospects. Masters’ night orders should also seek to ensure that day crew are called at a reasonable time so that items such as anchors are cleared, pilot boarding arrangements are safely in place, and flags/call signs are ready to be run up.“Consideration should also be given to calling the duty engineer to ensure that engines are on standby suitably in advance of being required for manoeuvring. It is also important to endeavour to ensure that bridge manning is increased as required, that mooring ropes are prepared, and that bridge arrival checklists are completed, and required systems checked.