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Essential Tasks to be Done Before Signing On or Off from a ship

Every seafarer on board a ship is familiar with two words- sign on and sign off. These are the terms used in maritime industry when a seafarer is joining or leaving a vessel. Dating from old times, seafarers’ signs contract to work onboard a ship. In modern times, the duty of any deck officers or engine officers ranges from 6 months to 9 months. When there is an emergency, exceptions can be there otherwise it is the same in more or less in every company. Some ships do not go back to the home port of the seafarer from where the seafarer was taken, so many times the seamen have to fly home from the port where crew change was conducted. There are usually shipping agents who help out the seafarers during their sign off and sign on from ports. When there is an delay in arrival of the ship in ports usually seafarers are given hotels to stay in and all the costs are beared by the company. Not all the ships crews and officers will be changed at the same time in order to provide a balance between the newcomers who are new to the ship and the old experienced personnel on that ship, they will help out the newcomers to get settled on the new ship.

Signing On or Off

How do you sign off a ship?

Usually during a normal contract an officer has more or less a contract of 6 months or 9 months so when the officer finishes the contract, company arranges the sign off so new seafarers can join.

The process of sign off are: –

  1. When a seafarer joins a ship every documents of the seafarer is collected by the Master/Captain of the ship, every certificate including letter of appointment, COC, CDC, Health book and other licenses.

2. Then the off signers will be called by the Master to collect all their documents and do the needful verification. As the off signers know that their contract has ended and informed the same by the company. And they will collect the flight ticket and some cash from the Master/Captain during their voyage home.

Capt. Sunil Making Sign Off of Chief Cook

3. Then check all the documents and do the needful signs on documents. And clarify that nothing is missing, or anything is wrong in printing or in the certificates.

4. There will be a tug boat coming for the off signers as well. It might also be carrying on signers. Climb down the ladder and reach the tugboat which will carry the seafarers to the port from there they will be going to the airports to catch a flight home.

5. The ship may be docked in the port. From there, the seafarers can directly meet the agents and will be going to the airport to catch the flight.

What are the things you should know before boarding a ship?

When an on-signer boards a ship, they should do some important things which are listed down: –

  1. Exchange the contact details with your family, such as personal contact number, email address, ship’s email address and ship’s phone number, in case of emergency. Social networking sites are unreliable so family should depend on email.
  2. Share your account number with your family, so that in case of emergency, your family can take money from your account. If needed create two bank account, one NRE for international usage of money and another NRO for domestic usage.
  3. Make a duplicate photocopy of all the photographs, COC, CDC and health certificate. Carry the original documents in a bag and carry the photocopies in another luggage bag. If one gets lost, you will have the photocopies.
  4. Keep a small pocket diary where all the necessary details will be hand written, contact number will be listed and you can write down anything important spoken by the officers. If in case phone get lost, the diary will be there to help you out.
  5. Carry at least three bags, one bag would contain all the electronic equipment such as laptops and gaming consoles, another bag would carry all the clothes and toiletries and the last bag would carry some instant clothes to put on as you will be travelling through climate zones and temperature are likely to vary.
  6. Before signing the contract, verify the contract carefully to see if there is a mistake or not.
  7. Carry some money with you while you are signing on board, at least carry 200 dollars to 500 dollars while sign on and sign off from a ship.
  8. Read some major rules and regulations of the country which you are transiting, so to gain a better knowledge of the country’s laws.
  9. Keep all the valuables at home such as your expensive gifts given by the loved ones and any form of jewelry, expensive accessories. Same goes for any library card, club card and all extra debit and credit card which will be of no use in the ship.
  10. Travel lightly as you don’t need to carry a heavy amount of luggage on board, it will only increase your workload while transiting. Carry 5-6 pairs of clothes, some necessary medicines, basic toiletries and the rest will be provided by the company on board the ship.

Things you should do if you are a first timer onboard a vessel.

When you are a first time on-board a vessel as a cadet there are some things which you should do. The steps are listed below: –

  1. Report to the Master/Captain with: –
    • Letter of appointment
    • CDC {Continuous Discharge Certificate}
    • Passport
    • Health book
  2. Report to the second engineer or chief engineer. And then meet the Engine watchkeeping officers and get familiarized with the Engine equipment’s on board and learn some cargo operations.
  3. Get familiarized with other engine officers and other crews on-board. So, when you work on-board the vessel you are familiar with everyone on-board.

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