Definitions

afternoon-watch

Watch system

A watch system, watch schedule or watch bill is a method of assigning regular periods of work duty aboard ships and some other areas of employment. A watch system allows the ship's crew to effectively operate the ship 24 hours a day for the duration of long voyages or operations.

Many watch systems incorporate the concept of dogging, whereby one watch is split into two shorter watches so that there is an odd number each day. Doing so allows crew members to have a different watch schedule each day. Often the dog watches are set at dinner time to allow the entire crew to be fed in short order.

Traditional system

A 2-Section Dogged Watch
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
2000-0000 Team 1 Team 2 Team 1
0000-0400 Team 2 Team 1 Team 2
0400-0800 Team 1 Team 2 Team 1
0800-1200 Team 2 Team 1 Team 2
1200-1600 Team 1 Team 2 Team 1
1600-1800 Team 2 Team 1 Team 2
1800-2000 Team 1 Team 2 Team 1
In the traditional Royal Navy watch system, those members of the crew whose work must be done at all times of the day are assigned to one of two divisions: the Starboard or the Port division. These two groups of personnel alternate in working the following watches:

  • First watch - 2000 to 0000,
  • Middle watch - 0000 to 0400,
  • Morning watch - 0400 to 0800,
  • Forenoon watch - 0800 to 1200,
  • Afternoon watch - 1200 to 1600,
  • First dog watch - 1600 to 1800,
  • Last dog watch - 1800 to 2000.


Traditional system with three sections

A 3-Section Dogged Watch
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
2000-0000 Team 1 Team 2 Team 3
0000-0400 Team 2 Team 3 Team 1
0400-0800 Team 3 Team 1 Team 2
0800-1200 Team 1 Team 2 Team 3
1200-1600 Team 2 Team 3 Team 1
1600-1800 Team 3 Team 1 Team 2
1800-2000 Team 1 Team 2 Team 3

The same arrangement of watch times can also be used with a crew divided into three sections. This give each sailor more time off-duty. Names for the three watches - instead of Port and Starboard - vary from ship to ship. Naming schemes such as "Foremast", "Mainmast" and "Mizzen" and "Red", "White" and "Blue" are common.

Swedish system

A 3-Section Swedish Watch
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
0600-1200 Team 1 Team 3 Team 2
1200-1800 Team 2 Team 1 Team 3
1800-2200 Team 3 Team 2 Team 1
2200-0200 Team 1 Team 3 Team 2
0200-0600 Team 2 Team 1 Team 3
Various alternative watch schedules have been devised, which are typically referred to as Swedish watches. Although there is no standard for what constitutes a Swedish watch, the variations all feature some element of extended watches to accommodate longer time off. Like the traditional watch system, they begin at 2000 hours. Some popular variations have durations of 6,6,4,4,4 and 5,5,5,5,4.

Merchant ships

Standard merchant watch system
Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
0400-0800 Team 1 Team 1 Team 1
0800-1200 Team 2 Team 2 Team 2
1200-1600 Team 3 Team 3 Team 3
1600-2000 Team 1 Team 1 Team 1
2000-0000 Team 2 Team 2 Team 2
0000-0400 Team 3 Team 3 Team 3
On merchant ships, watchstanders typically stand 4 hours of watch at a time in three sections. This system has a couple of advantages: it's easy to remember and it's consistent. For example, a member of watch team #1 will only have to remember that he is on the "4-8" watch, and knows that he goes on watch at 4am and 4pm.

Notes

References

See also

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