Monday, March 17, 2008

In Port Watches

First, a caution: This description of in-port watches is old. It may, or may not, have no relationship to in-port watches today.

Command Duty Officer: The CDO is the officer who stands in for the Captain when the Captain is off the ship. Beyond that, the CDO is responsible for the safety, security and routine of the ship in port. The CDO must be a fully-qualified underway OOD and is expected to be capable of getting the ship underway if required. On larger ships overseas, an assistant CDO, who was a fully-qualified CDO, was awake and on duty for the very late evening through early morning. The CDO was probably asleep, but the CDO was still ultimately responsible.

Quarterdeck Watches: The quarterdeck is where the ship’s brow/gangway came onto the ship. The quarterdeck watches always wore the uniform of the day, either summer whites or dress blues. In a shipyard, the watches on the quarterdeck may wear working uniforms.

Officer of the Deck: While on paper, the OOD in port functioned in the same manner as the OOD underway, the reality of the situation was that the OOD in port was often known as the Quarterdeck Watch Officer, or QDWO. The in-port watches checked in with the QDWO. The QDWO’s main function was to control access to the ship. When anchored out, the QDWO also controls the scheduling of the ship’s boats. The QDWO may be a First Class Petty Officer, a Chief Petty Officer or a very junior officer (ensign or lieutenant junior grade). The QDWO carried a long-glass (telescope) tucked under his or her left arm, which usually was broken, but it looked nice. The QDWO is the one who returns the salutes of officers and men boarding or leaving the ship and is the one who checked IDs.

Petty Officer of theWatch: The POOW kept the Deck Log in port, answered the telephone on the quarterdeck and operated the 1MC. The POOW was armed with a .45, though the two magazines held only five rounds each and the weapon itself was unloaded for safety’s sake.

Messenger of the Watch: The MOOW was the gofer. After taps, the MOOW woke the rest of the watch reliefs.

Other watches:

ASROC Rover or Roving Patrol: In the days when ships were capable of carrying nuclear weapons (before 1991), the Roving Patrol was the other armed watch. The Roving Patrol had a few points to check each set of round, but the watchstander was expected to roam all over the ship, other than the engineering spaces. If the Roving Patrol failed to check in, in person, with the QDWO within a set period of time, a Security Alert would be called away. This resulted in a couple of dozen sailors, including the CDO, fanning out all over the ship with .45s, M-14s and shotguns until the reason for the Roving Patrol’s failure to check in was ascertained. (The usual reason was because the CDO instructed the Roving Patrol not to show up to see if the QDWO was paying attention.)

Cold Iron Watch: The Cold Iron Watch checked the main engineering spaces and the shaft alleys or anything untoward. This watch was not manned if the plant was lit off, for then a steaming watch would be on duty.

Sounding and Security Watch: This watch checked the voids and lower spaces outside of the main engineering plant. Sounding and Security also filed out the auxiliary machinery logs for the air conditioning plant and the dehydrators.

Anchor Watch: This watch was only manned if the ship was anchored. The Anchor Watch would shoot a set of bearings every thirty minutes and plot them on a chart of the anchorage to make sure that the ship was not drifting away from the anchorage. If the bearings were good, the Anchor Watch reported that to the QDWO. If the bearings indicated that the ship was dragging anchor, the Anchor Watch notified the CDO directly.


Bustednuckles said...

Draggin anchor is serious business, the coast around Coos Bay Oregon is testament to that.There are 40 miles of sand dunes starting at the bar in Coos Bay that head North from there. That means there isn't anything off the coast for an anchor to grab and it is notoriously windy around there.
Just ask the EX skipper of the New Carrissa.
It beached one mile from my Granny's house because it dragged the anchor six miles in a storm. You could see it from the top of the hill.

Jon said...

Just a note on nuclear powered surface ships (at least with cruisers... I am sure that carriers are the same way, as well as subs, for that matter...): The cold iron watch doesn't exist, because even when shutdown/cooled down, there were at least three to four watchstanders down in the plants standing watch on various systems (shutdown reactor operator (SRO), Shutdown Electrical Operator (SEO), Shutdown Rover (SRW), and someone else like a watch supervisor or something). These watches were ALWAYS in effect, and the only time I ever saw them discontinued was when we either got the plants started up (usually two days before the ship left port... none of this four hours before getting underway BS) and when we turned over the ship to the shipyard at the end of decommissioning. Nukes are the first sailors onboard, and the last ones off.