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Checklists- Masters Pocket Book

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Checklists- Masters Pocket Book

The checklists can be adapted to suit whatever circumstances and personnel exist onboard ensuring maximum efficiency, safety and a continuation of command during handover.

The purpose of Captain Lloyd’s book ‘Checklists’ is to attempt to lay down basic procedures for all ranks (Masters in particular) based on the premise that shipboard life is in a constant state of change/flux as crew join and leave and new procedures are implemented. But how does one ensure that critical things don’t get missed in this environment? Captain Lloyd seeks to use his vast experience as Master to identify areas of the Captain’s remit that can benefit from having sensible, articulated procedures in place.

The format of the book is critically important to achievement of its stated goals – that is easily referenced and pocket sized.

This book actually dovetails with many of the procedures laid down in various ship managers’ ‘Bridge Team Command and Control Standards’ programmes that have standardised all watch handover checklists and communications procedures throughout fleets. This should ensure that, however often crew changes occur, the ship should always operate to the same standards and procedures.

The book clearly fills a gap in the market. The quality of standardised procedures/checklists still varies across different companies and this can create ‘dead zones’ through which important checks can be missed.

This leads onto the key points about this book. While not stating it in his introduction, the book is surreptitiously about the need to ensure good communication between all appropriate personnel onboard. Almost every checklist includes an item about disseminating information to crew members, port agents or shore side authorities, and highlights the fact that one of the Master’s overriding responsibilities is to ensure that everyone is on the same page at all times during operations.

The second key point is that the book shows the Master how to delegate. While not drawing specific attention to this in the book, the checklists always include a section on who to delegate a particular operation to. Many Captains’ are promoted to command with little formal (if any) training of people management. The inability to be an effective delegate can cause confusion and upset the smooth operation of the crew routines, as individuals do not know where they stand if the Captain meddles every five minutes.

The third key point to draw from the book is the need to maintain increasingly stringent records to deal with increased litigation. In this modern age of shipping, it is important that each and every officer ensures that a paper trail (for example documenting regular safety meetings in a formal manner) maintenance and log keeping takes place to ensure that accountability can be determined. ‘Checklists’ should ensure that procedures are implemented to assist in this.

Additional information provided in the book actually suggests that the book has a slightly broader remit than simply checklists. For example, the advice on ensuring that drills are creative and varied is outside of a conventional ‘checklist’ format. However, this is important information to document in a book such as this as, too often, drills are 2 dimensional and simulate only the most mundane of potential emergency situations (and often the easiest to deal with using conventional training). The book encourages Masters to ask ‘What If’ when considering different emergency response training. This is excellent advice; especially with merchant ships becoming increasingly specialised and complex.

Laying out checklists on procedures for subjects such as dealing with death onboard is also very important as it allows the Master to ensure that they can appear competent and totally in control in front of a potentially distraught crew.

The diversity of chapters is impressive and acts as a useful aide memoir. However, as with all similar books, there is question mark regarding what information to leave out. For example, the disciplinary procedures chapter would benefit from more information regarding the processes that must be followed to ensure an effective disciplinary procedure. This is such a critical issue that so many officers have poor working knowledge of, that an effective checklist would act as a useful tool. On the other hand, one could argue that the space could be created by removing readily available information such as duplicated MGNs or information found in the Bridge Procedures Guide.

In summary, this book is at its most effective when it stays ‘on mission’. That is to say that checklists regarding necessary documentation required prior to departure or what to do in the event of an ODME failure are such useful additional tools to have because this information is often not available elsewhere in summarised ‘checklist ‘ format.