Empress of the North Article in Blog

I was just reading the new article on the blog about the end of the case against the company for pollution. But there was something interesting in there that I’ve never heard of - I don’t know if Mike is the one who wrote this article - it sounds more like it came from a newspaper, but here’s what made me curious:

[B]“Coast Guard regulations require that a watch officer must have observed or stood watch from the wheelhouse on the route he’s working at least four times, one of those at night, before he is qualified to be in charge of the watch.”[/B]

Is this legit? I’ve never heard of this, and every new 3M knows that that first watch is a bear because it’s the first one where you’re really on your own. I haven’t heard of anybody being “observed” for their first 4 watches - sometimes I hear that the Captain stays on the bridge for an hour or two to see how the new guy handles it, but never for the first 4 watches.

I served on the Empress. I’m not sure if the USCG requires it- but I do know that every new mate we had was observed.

How long were they observed for? The 4 watches like the article says?

I believe it was at least 4 with the captain and/or another mate also coming up to the bridge for certain parts of the cruise- locks and several bridges on the Columbia River come to mind.

I also remember overhearing a conversation between the captain and one of the 3m’s (Cal Maritime Graduate) regarding this. I was brand new at the time- don’t remember the specifics. Sorry.

I came on a few months after the grounding.


Musta been with Capt. Pettersen. He ran things a bit differently (read: professionally) than they did pre-grounding.

Sent in from Alaska attorney general’s office…

The requirement is for pilotage on the inside passage and it is not just four watches - the reg. requires 4 yoyages on the route. Depending on the vessel and route this could easily mean a month or more before a mate can stand his watch alone. Not all vessels fall under this Reg. But it is for real. I will be sailing next week with my relief while he establishes pilotage - at the insistance of the CG.

Pete ran a tight ship- to be sure- but I must say that ALL the captains, engineers and mates were good people and good mariners. They taught me a lot about being a sailor- and a person.

I have a lot of respect for 99% of the people I worked with-officers, OS, AB, cooks,pursers,bartenders, housekeepers, dishwashers, cruise staff etc-both personally and professionally.

A few of the hotel and entertainment people weren’t great- but almost everybody took doing an excellent job personally and would bend over backwards to help out anyone who needed it-and always with a smile.

If any of you are reading this-thanks for the memories:)

Our company has instituted a “new master/mate” (ie new to the vessel) check off list that must be signed off prior to standing your own watch. It is really helpful.