Gangway watch is not that hard if you know this

Many seafarers have a vague idea how important having a gangway watch is. It is the first and last place that an unauthorized person will pass and can be stopped if necessary. But it is always neglected and considered a boring job on the ship.

It was not so difficult to do a gangway watch before. Visitors just pass by the gangway and no particular inspection or ID were even checked. Even the visitors logbook was not a compulsory thing to do. Back then, seaman’s life were easy and less of the paperworks.

Now it is different; since the implementation of the ISPS. Many port facilities are imposing strict regulations that requires ship to comply.

On the other hand, the crew think of it as an additional job and confusing to implement. But it is not so difficult to do. The idea is that the gangway watch should keep his post at the gangway, and never leave his post until properly relieved. It may sound simple but still many seafarers don’t obey the rules.

Let us look into the different ways on how a gangway watch is done.

  • A crew is delegated as the person in charge of the gangway watch (usually the A/B)
  • The person assigned to do the gangway watch shall have no other duties except to stay at his post and inform the duty officer of any person coming in and leaving the ship.
  • If the crew on gangway watch needs to leave his post, somebody should relieve him and continue his duty.
  • If the visitor needs to be escorted, another crew or officer should accompany the visitor, not the person assigned as gangway watch.
  • The duty gangway watch must have a portable radio in order to have communication at all times.
  • Never decide on your own when you are on watch at the gangway, always inform and ask the duty officer, and let the duty officer make the decision if he will let the visitor come in or not.
  • Keep a list of the ID’s you give to visitors and it should be returned once they leave the ship.
  • Always ask the visitor to write in the Visitors Logbook legibly and fill in the details needed, all the information are relevant when you need to look for reference or name of person and time they come on-board.
  • Don’t do any other job except to be on watch only.
  • Don’t sleep while you are on watch.

A lot can be added to this, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Don’t just rely on your partner


There are serious matters involve when carrying out a gangway watch. The common mistakes are caused by wrong information, and being confident that whatever is told to them by the outgoing watchmen is correct and true, without bothering to re-check it.

Always keep in mind to verify the information you received from the outgoing watchkeeper if it is correct.

Once you received the post, it means that everything that happens during your watch is your responsibility.

Let us look into the example of the ID’s, most of you will say that it is only a simple ID, remember that whatever you issue should be returned. If the outgoing watchkeeper told you he issued 6 ID to 6 visitors, you should check if he write it correctly in the logbook, and be able to identify in the visitors logbook where those names are marked.

Those simple things are the common mistakes that you will see on the ship. There are two factors involved here:

  • The person on watch is interested to do his job correctly, or
  • The person is lazy to do his job.

Each individual has an idea of how to do his job, but they never want to understand the repercussion of their action, if they will not do their job correctly.

Breach of security starts at the gangway, and it can be prevented if proper implementation of their duties are imposed.

Be a good gate-keeper


Doing the gangway watch is not hard, all you need is dedication to your job. Here is how to do it, so you will have an idea:

  • Stay near the vicinity of the gangway. Don’t wonder around far away from the gangway.
  • Be courteous and do not provoke a fight when you are talking to visitors.
  • Don’t be shy to ask the visitors, you are in authority to ask certain details in connection to ship security.
  • Do not put your hand inside their bags when you are inspecting them. You can use a metal detector (if allowed or intrinsically safe), a stick (to avoid using your hands when checking the items in their bag), or ask them to open the items for you.
  • As previously mentioned before, never leave your post without properly relieved.

Remember that Gangway watch is a very important part of your job in Port. You are the gate keeper of the ship. If you do it right, your buddies can sleep well at night knowing that somebody is doing their part in implementing one of the task of ship security.

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