Captain/Master 1600 NC Standing orders

Hi Everyone
This my seem silly and I believe I already know the answer but I wanted to see what ya’ll thought. I’m working on a OSV in the Gulf. We are on a 3 way rotation with 3 captains. I am 2nd captain and when the 1st is off I am Master or 1st captain. The 1st that is taking off is trying to implement his standing orders on me. It has to do with watch keeping and work rest hours. He prefers the Dreadful 6 on 6 off watch which I believe should be illegal He said" these are his standing orders" As Master or 1st Captain when this power junkie leaves do I legally have to Comply.??? I strongly prefer 12 and 12 which is the way I will run my vessel, I believe it is safer you get more relax time and more rest.
I apologize for my poor grammar I only got 6 hours of sleep in the last 25 hours 3 last night 3 this morning and they say 6 on and 6 off is legal. What do you think of this.???

There is only one Master onboard, the rest are Mates. The 2nd, 3rd captain nonsense does not exist anywhere else, including the CFRs.


I’d make sure the current watch system isn’t company policy before changing it.

6/6 is legal. It’s also much more common than 12/12. That’s primarily an OSV thing.

I think 6/6 is much better and safer than 12/12. 8/8&4/4 works well on some boats. I’d like to see more of that.

I also like the Mates doing 6/6 and the captain not standing a watch. Departures and arrival permitting, the captain will typically relieve the Mates for a couple hours each, so they each end up 4/8 & 6/6.

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Here’s the deal as I see it. I doubt if 6 and 6 is company policy but it is worth checking. That said, the ship only has one Master in charge at a time. When the other guy is aboard, he is the boss. When you are Master, you are. It is either his license, yours, or whomever can occupy that position at a time. Unless there is some sort of equal time where you two don’t sail together you will be under him for some period of time. If he doesn’t like how you ran your show he may just decide to fire you on something technically unrelated to your standing orders.

6 and 6 is just one of several possible watchstanding rotations.

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Like others have already said…when you are in the master spot, it’s your boat.

I think I understand what you are saying, that the lead captain basically is such a control freak that he still tries to run the boat when he’s home. Chances are his wife beats him up, which is usually the case when you hear these micromanaging stories of fellas running the boat from their couch. Does he call you when he’s off on the sat phone too?

We’ve all been in situations like this with overlapping crews too…kinda sucks for the rest of the crew when they have to change the watch schedule when this guy is running the boat and change it back when that guy is. Having consistency is a nice thing when you can.

Assuming it isn’t your company’s policy, this whole 6/6 thing, I would stick to your guns or ask for a transfer to a different boat.


I also would take the crew into consideration. It would be a bitch to work a 20 day schedule and half of the days you work 12 hours on 12 off and the other half you work 6 on 6 off. I think you have to take into consideration that this could severely impact sleeping behavior and have a crewmember be very poorly rested. I am all for changing the hours if the crew agrees with it and said first captain is out of the picture.

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I only sail opposite another captain who is in command when I am home. One of us has been the captain of the ship longer than the other. Traditionally this creates a senior and junior Captain situation where major changes to things like watch schedules or station bills are only done with the blessing of the person who has been there the longest. I happen to be the senior guy on my ship but prefer to have a consensus with my counterpart when considering changes to how the vessel is run. Small alterations and preferences to standard operating procedure are usually OK as long as there is minimal effect on the crew when the captains change out. Something like going from 6 hour to 12 hour watches would be considered a major change.

The OP wants it his way and the other guy wants it the way he wants. Sounds like the traditional method is being used which offers two options. Wait it out until you are the king of the heap or find another boat. Though don’t be surprised if you become #1 and your new #2 wants to do things in a way you don’t agree with. Its tough at the top sometimes.

it’s only me and the third captain the rest of the crew doesn’t change anything and the third prefers twelves also . When I’m working as Master of the vessel I’m going to operate what I feel is safe. I’m sailing under my license 6 on 6 off you don’t get any rest I consider that up unsafe

Man so many levels of fucked up with this. First there is only one master at a time, and it sure isn’t the guy sitting on his couch sipping a beer. Also I have never heard of an OSV company that dictates the work schedule of their boats, so I doubt that will be an issue. The first thing I would do is call the office and let them know that this spot is not going to work, and why. Then I would move over to a 12/12 schedule, and pack my bags at the end of the hitch and hope to never go back to that vessel again.

Hopefully you have your DP Certificate and ready to find another job if things get real ugly, things are getting better and companies are looking for experienced guys.

My personal opinion 6 and 6 is the dumbest fucking schedule to work, I don’t care what anyone says. Our physiology is not made to work like that, we are meant to work from sunup to sundown, with lots of sleep at night. It takes me 2 to 3 hours to wind down from my watch before I’m able to sleep, and I need at least 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep to function, and preferably 8 to be at my best. You can not get that working 6 and 6. Many forget that off time just does not mean sleeping. Its time to get laundry done, eat, watch a movie, play video games. Whatever you need to do to get out of your head and mentally off the boat for a few hours.

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3 Captains?

If the watchstanding schedule is just between you and the other mate this is a mole hill being made into a mountain. Kinda reminds me of the “bridge wing dodger war” that happened aboard my old ship. It was decided white was too reflective so one of the captains painted the wind dodger on the bridge wings blue. The other captain didn’t like that color so he had them repainted light green. For several years they got repainted every rotation. Those dodgers were the most preserved pieces of steel on the ship. After a couple of years the office finally stepped in and told them to cut that shit out. A very petty issue that grew out of proportion due to the egos involved…About ten years later the exact same thing happened aboard our sister ship.


Absolutely!!! I would love to come and work with you… finally somebody that I understands
Happy sails keep it safe brother

Legally there is only one Master on-board at the time, and that is the one which name is written in the official logbook. Each Master must write their own standing order for the period they are in charge, and the deck officers must sign. The important for the standing order is that they should not contradict the company ISM. Each Master is also responsible for posting a watch schedule for the bridge watches. The watch schedule must be in compliance with MLC. So when you are the Master you make the watch schedule as you please as long as its within the ISM and MLC. Of course you should expect to have some friction with the other Master when he comes back and see that you refused to follow his suggestion for watch schedule.

Exactly correct thank you for your input this doesn’t affect anybody but me and the relief captain of course there’s three of us but we play mate captain

What is your rotation? How long are you on-board and how long at home?

When he’s not there his standing orders are null.

I’m not sure many people would agree with you there.

6 weeks on 3 weeks off three captains 3 with one 3 with the other 1 has time off . This is just a case a first Captain with a big ego. I’m aware I have 100% of Authority over this boat when I’m running as the first and 100% responsibility I also run my vessel safely and I allow my deck hands to have proper work schedules 4 hours on 8 hours off. So I continue to let him believe that he’s running the vessel while he’s not at work because I’m new with the company and don’t want to jeopardize my job of course. my biggest complaint about the whole thing is he working 6 hours on 6 hours off which I feel should be illegal nobody gets sufficient amount of rest on that schedule the rules should State 8 hours uninterrupted rest. Which when the first Captain does leave and I take over as master I go to a 12- hour watch schedule with third captain which of course runs as mate everybody knows there’s only one captain on board. Thanks for listening you got any input on this I’d like to know
Captain Brian

I don´t think that 6-6 system is in compliance with the regulation, this because of the handover of watches. The one who left midnight 00:00 has to be on the bridge 05:45 to take over the watch, and the same repeats itself in the afternoon, so the 6 hour uninterrupted rest is not possible. I know some are doing 7-5 to overcome the problem. The problem for 12-12 is when the persons should eat, but maybe you eat on the bridge when you have an opportunity.

Anyone do the Swedish watch system?
0600-1200 On, 1200-1800 Off, 1800-2200 On, 2200-0200 Off, 0200-0600 On, 0600-1200 Off and so on.
It works well IMHO when relatively shorthanded and is WAY better than the 4 0n 4 off from my youth when I didn’t seem to need much sleep.