Joining a new vessel can be a very exciting time. There are new people to meet, tasks to complete & food to eat! You may already have experience with the type of work that vessel performs, or it may be completely new to you. Either way, it is up to you to become familiar with the ship and the onboard culture as quickly as possible.
Here are some of the points that you should consider when trying to get up to speed in a hurry.
1. Muster station & emergency duties
Safety first! Shortly after joining you should receive a safety induction, but make sure to check your muster station in your cabin when you first drop your bags off. Then go see where that station is located. Some times your induction may not happen that first day so it is important to know where to go.
Next, look at the muster list to see what your duties are in case of an emergency. As a DPO you will likely either be at one of the fire teams or else on the bridge, depending on the shift you are on. Again it is a good idea to physically go to the location so that you have an idea of where everything is! It can be confusing to find your way around a new vessel, so making sure that you can at least find your way from the bridge to start is good practice.
2. Power, Thrust & DP
Depending on where you join & what is going on at the time, you may jump straight into doing DP work or you may have some time to familiarize yourself with the vessel.
If it is the former, then learning the thruster & power arrangement will start immediately. Start by working through the periodical DP checklist & note how the system is setup. This also helps to get used to a system that you have not worked with before, or perhaps have been away from for a while.
If it is the latter make sure to take advantage of this opportunity! Walk the deck & physically check the various machinery spaces to see where everything is located, & how it is set up. Check the steering gear arrangement, the emergency fuel shutoffs, the fire detection system… Look at the position reference systems that are equipped such as a light taut wire or the location of the Hipap pole.
Another point to note is that in addition to the HSE tour you will be given, you should try to have the bosun show you around as well as somebody from the engineering department, as they will have different priorities so you end up with a well rounded tour.
3. Names & faces
Start to get to know the people you will be working with. It can be tough to learn a bunch of new names in a short period, so remember to carry a tally book & write them down if you have to.
4. Vessel familiarization
Becoming familiar with the layout can be tough. Looking at the safety plan can help, but nothing works like actually walking through the ship. Even if you are stuck on the bridge all watch you can get a good start by taking a different path to & from work every day.
A bit of time spent on deck after watch will also quickly show the benefits.
5. Hit the books!
Upon joining any new vessel there are a number of publications to be read & in some cases signed. Among these are:
Masters standing orders
Safety management system
Job specific procedures
This list is by no means exhaustive, as there will be a large number of other duties for you to figure out, depending on the type of vessel & your position on it. Make sure to walk the vessel as much as possible & to ask questions!
What else do you consider important when joining a new vessel?
To learn more about working as a DPO, read these tips to getting your DP certification in the gCaptain forums.
[Image: Copyright 2010 Robert Almeida Photography]