On the day of the international recognition of the Republic of Croatia a third of…
Officer of the watch is one of the most responsible duties in the Croatian Navy, though lesser known; officers of the watch officers assume direct responsibility for safe navigation of the vessel while keeping the watch. The officer of the watch carries out tasks related to the use of the vessel and the various systems; the candidates are therrefore required to pass a strict examination, equal in importance as the state examination for the civil employees. The candidates that meet the criteria (in possession of a university degree – the undergraduate university study or at least three-year professional nautical studies degree) are allowed to take the 1-year practice period aboard the ship as deck trainee, applying the knowledge acquired , navigation rules and learning to manoeuvre the ship and to communicate with other ships.
The candidates are assigned a mentor – the commander or more often the deputy commander – who supervise their performance through the training period; successful candidates will be allowed to sit two preliminary exams, comprising the initial duties exam and the final OOW examination . The examination is a precondition for the main examination for officers of the watch, in theretical and practical module (the candidates demonstrate the skills of terrestrial navigation, floating in and out, manoeuvring the vessel, commanding from the command bridge, mooring, the passage through difficult navigation area, rescue of drowners, collision avoidance etc) conducted aboard the vessel where the candidates took their training and during two exam navigations . The examiners include the chief of staff of the Croatian Navy FLotilla, a member of the N3 and a member of the Flotilla. After passing the practical test the candidates take the written theory exam to demonstrate the mastery of navigation rules, rules of collision avoidance and steering . Each candidate is allowed three chances to sit the examination. In the event of failure, he/she is assigned to another post, but no such case has been registered. The success in the examination qualifies the candidates to assume the duties as heads of the command or weapons unit, and depending on their ambition and motivation can advance to the duty of the vessel commander.
Twelve candidates sat for the examination in the current year, among whom two female officers. Lieutenant Junior Grade Davor Javorčić said the examination and the status of the officer of the watch was a step towards the duty of vessel commander, and that the training was a beginning of a complex future training. “The certification as the officer of the watch offers me wide opportunities for further development in my career“, said Sanja Čajsa, one of the two female candidates, “I can now steer the vessel and acquire new experiences“. The Croatian Navy hopes to admit ever more candidates for the duty in the coming period.
Lieutenant Junior Grade Sanja Čajsa, Head of the Naval Weapons Unit of the missile boat says: “The training for the officer of the watch is demanding, intensive and broad, encompassing navigation, vessels manoeuvring ,meteorology and maritime law, and the exam is difficult too, as it requires certain pre-conditions as well as the will, ability and motivation“.