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Chapter 4

Record Keeping (Log Books)


Introduction
Records on board are very important as most the officers and the staff
present at any particular incident may not actually be available when
damage to the ship or the cargo is observed or investigated. The
records maintained are therefore important and a number of such cases
fail as the records maintained are poor and may not be accepted as
evidence at such investigation.

Record of navigational activities and daily reporting.


SOLAS Convention, as amended, requires all ships engaged on
International voyages to keep on board a record of navigational
activities and incidents which are of importance to safety of navigation
and which must contain sufficient detail to restore a complete record of
the voyage, taking into account the recommendations adopted by IMO.

Recording of information related to navigation


In addition to national requirements, it is recommended that the
following events and items, as appropriate, be among those recorded:
Before commencing the voyage
Details of all data relating to the general condition of the ship should be
acknowledged and recorded, such as manning and provisioning, cargo
aboard, draught, result of stability/stress checks when conducted,
inspections of controls, testing of the steering gear and navigational and
radio communication equipment.
During the voyage
Details related to the voyage should be recorded, such as courses
steered and distances sailed, position fixings, weather and sea
conditions, changes to the voyage plan, details of pilots'
embarkation/disembarkation, and entry into areas covered by, and
compliance with, ship routeing or reporting systems.

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On special occasions
Details on special events should be recorded, such as death and
injuries among passengers and crew and passengers, malfunctions of
shipboard equipment and aids to navigation, potentially hazardous
situations, emergencies and distress messages received.
When the ship is at anchor or in a port
Details on operational or administrative matters and details related to
the safety and security of the ship should be recorded.
Method of recording
SOLAS regulations require that, if the records of navigational activities
are not maintained in the ship's logbook, they should be maintained in
another form approved by the Administration. Methods of recording
should be permanent and may be handwritten, electronic or
mechanical.
Non-duplication
In general, information on the events and items specified in above
paragraph (Records of navigational activities and daily reporting), which
are adequately recorded in a special-purpose log, need not be
duplicated in the ship's logbook.

Preservation of records
In order to be able to restore a complete record of the voyage, records
should be maintained as follows:

 Each page of the ship's log-book should have a page number printed on
it, and handwritten records which need correction should not be erased
or removed but should be rewritten after crossing out the incorrect
version;

 The clock time used in automatic and permanent recording facilities


should be synchronized by using a common clock;

 input records whether on electronic or mechanical systems should be


protected by positive means to prevent them from being deleted,
destroyed or overwritten; and

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 Irrespective of the method of recording, ships should keep records for
as long as the Administration concerned requires, provided the fixed
period is not less than one year.

Requirements of the SOLAS regulations


Each ship of 500 gross tonnage and above, engaged on International
voyages exceeding 48 hours shall submit a daily report to its company
which shall retain it and all subsequent daily reports for the duration of
the voyage.
Daily reports may be transmitted by any means, provided that they are
transmitted to the company as soon as practicable after determination
of the position named in the report. Automated reporting systems may
be used, provided they include a recording function of their transmission
and that those functions and interfaces with position-fixing equipment
are subjected to regular verification by the ship’s master. The report
shall contain the following:

 ship’s position;

 ship’s course and speed; and

 Details of any external or internal conditions that are affecting the ship’s
voyage or the normal safe operation of the ship.

Accident Records
The Master is responsible for the statutory reporting of accidents. It is
his statutory duty to investigate and keep an official record of every
accident and it is expected that the he will rely extensively on the results
and record of the investigation when completing his final report.
The investigation of accidents plays a very important part in
occupational safety. It is by the identification and study of accidents that
similar events may be prevented in future.
The statutory requirements regarding accident reporting are set out in
the Regulations and further information on reporting procedures by
Merchant Shipping Notices.
In addition to the Deck log book the following logs or records are
generally maintained on board
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Official Log books
These log books in their prescribed format are the requirements of a
flag state. Listed below are some of the entries which may be recorded

 Crew sign / off details.

 Change of Master

 Punishments and fines imposed on the crew.

 Births and deaths of persons on board.

 Drafts and freeboards upon arrival and departure ports

 Records of emergency drills carried out

 Records of inspection of water, provisions and the entire vessel

 Opening and closing of watertight doors

 Any other entry significant in nature related to the vessel / ship’s


personnel.

Other records maintained on board


Movement books (bell books)
These books record the movement of the vessel in a fair amount of
detail. The entries are recorded in a chronological order. Some of the
entries are.

 Time and type of engine movements given to Engine room

 Important times of various occurrences especially when moving in


coastal and harbour areas.

 Times of passing navigational marks

 Times of altering courses.

 Times of making fast tugs, lines etc.

 Times and inspection of important navigational equipment

 Malfunction of main engines and other machinery or instruments

 Record of mandatory tests of steering gear and/or Navigation


equipment.

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Compass error logs
This log contains details of compass (Gyro / magnetic and others)
errors along with the time, method and equipment used for observation.
It also contains the Gyro / Magnetic heading of the vessel, observed /
true bearings, total error and its break-up into variation and deviation.
VHF Logs
Whenever the VHF is used for communications this log needs to be
filled up on board. It contains information of the time, sender, receiver,
channel and brief contents of all communiqué received and sent by the
ships VHF.
GPS Logs
This log contains the record of positions obtained by the GPS in a
chronological order.
Radar and Plotting Logs
This log contains the record of usage of the Radar equipment and
remarks as to the performance of the equipment. Details of plots of
targets are also some times recorded to keep evidence that the vessel
has been using the equipment and is performing as desired.
Navigation equipment Maintenance logs
All shipboard and shore maintenance records are recorded in this log.
This is useful to prove that adequate maintenance is being carried out
on ship board equipments as per the ships planned maintenance
system.
Chronometer logs
On ships having chronometer a record of its error as obtained by a time
signal must be kept on board. The error on the chronometer needs to
be allowed when calculating sights accurately. A properly kept record
also can be used to calculate the variance should a time signal not be
available on board for a considerable length of time.
Chart/ publications correction log
Normally this is an admiralty format for keeping a record of charts and
their corrections as obtained from the notice to mariners. This log must
be kept updated by the navigating officer immediately upon receiving a

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notice to mariner. The correction as listed in this log must then be
positively incorporated into the relevant chart prior its use.
Echo sounder log / paper graphs
In order to keep a record and assess the performance of the echo
sounder a record of the sounding depth at a given time must be kept.
This record also contains the sounding as indicated on the chart. When
ships are navigating in coastal waters with low under keel clearances
the echo sounder’s depth tracings on paper are also kept as evidence
for future use if needed. The used paper of the echo sounder when
replaced must be stored after marking it with the location and time of
completion with the dates marked on the paper roles.
Course recorder Paper graphs
Whenever changing course recorder paper the used paper roll must be
marked with date and location of completion and stored as an evidence
of the ships courses being steered. This evidence is particularly useful
should the ship be involved in a collision incident and its investigation.
Check lists records
All mandatory ship board and company checklists must be filed and
maintained on board as evidence of having a properly managed ship
management system. Some of the checklists are

 Arrival port

 Departure port

 Anchor watch

 Bridge equipment

 Navigating in pilotage waters

 Heavy weather

 Control testing

Passage planning records


All passage planning records must be filed in an orderly manner for
inspection at a later date as required by the ships safety management
system.

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Records of Weather messages / fax / charts / routeing.
The printouts obtained form Weather facsimile receivers, NAVTEX
messages, SATCOM messages should be maintained.
GMDSS (Radio) Log
The GMDSS radio logbook will record the following as they occur,
together with the time of occurrence:

 summary of communications relating to distress, urgency and safety


traffic;

 a record of important incidents connected with the radio service; and

 Where appropriate, the position of the ship at least once a day.

The Logs incorporate instructions for their completion to meet the legal
requirements and give details of the periodic checks / tests of each of
the equipment which need to be carried out.

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