Standing Watch on the Eagle


10-Year Member
Jun 9, 2006
What does one do while standing watch aboard the Eagle? Do watch standers walk around, stand in one place, travel through the ship and check on things? Why would someone have to stand watch when the ship is anchored near (but not in) port?

Do other Coast Guard vessels always have someone standing watch?

Watch standing is a time honored tradition in the military (maybe not the AF since they haven't been around long enough to have traditions :shake: ). On board a ship, either underway or in-port you will always have watch standers in most departments. My experience (being medical) you always have at least one person available in case of emergencies. Sort of like your 24 hour ER/hospital. Most departments on a ship always have someone available to at least answer a phone, but for the engineering department, you have personnel available in case of an electrical outage, water outage, phone outage, etc. There is always a senior officer or senior enlisted (Officer of the Day) who takes charge of the vessel in the absence of the CO.

A watch may consist of sitting staring at a phone for 4-8 hours, or you may be doing maintenance. Standing the dog watch (12-4AM) you can start to wonder why you are there, and what your purpose is in big picture, but when things go wrong, they usually go wrong in a big way at that time of night.

Another way to look at it, a ship is just a large community that has the same requirements as any other community. Just because its a holiday and all the stores are closed and no one is on the road, you wouldn't expect the police and fire departments to close down. On a ship, every crew member, from the CO down to the most junior enlisted, is the fire department, underway and in port. If your electricity goes out at home, you want it restored as quickly as possible no matter what time of day or night, same on a ship. The difference between civilians who do the jobs at night/weekends/holidays and military who do it 24 hours a day is the civilians can get overtime pay for the extra hours.

To answer your questions, someone has to watch the anchor chain to make sure its secured (things tend to come loose at times), they have to make sure the ship isn't drifting (anchors can come loose, saw it happen on an aircraft carrier). You still need to have someone monitoring the radar to ensure no one runs into you, and in this day and age, make sure no one gets close to you. If the ship starts to drift due to the anchor not holding, you have to have enough crew to be able to get the ship underway to re-set the anchor. Fires, medical emergencies, electrical/plumbing emergencies (you would not believe how much sewage can spill from a 5" line in 20 minutes), personnel emergencies, cooks (watch standing makes you HUNGRY!). The list goes on. If there is going to be a problem, you have to make sure you can take care of it then, because tomorrow it may be to late.

I hope this has answered your questions (probably to much information :shake: )
I can't add much to what RetNav said. You are basically the eyes and ears of your ship, looking out for other ships and such. In addition to the watches they sometimes have eight hours of duty as well, for a 16 hour day! Doesn't happen to often but it does at times. Also during the watch you get to interact with veteran sailors who can assure that you will be "salty" by the time your cruise is done. :shake: