21st Century Seamanship

(16 reviews)
Number of Pages:
Published Date:
August 2015
Book Height:
235 mm
Book Width:
160 mm
2 kg
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The book to get you through your exams and a reference for the rest of your career! This 1,300 page publication takes the traditional values of centuries of good seamanship and blends them with today’s reality. It is for seafarers at every level, covering ship types, handling and stability, onboard procedures and equipment, regulations, emergency response, etc.

A career at sea or in a marine related business understanding the practice of seamanship. In recent decades, shipping has moved at a tremendous pace and created a need for a new up to date manual. This book, which was ten years in the making, positions itself as a manual for the modern day seafarer in the 21st Century.


This book has taken ten years to prepare and, as a few have commented, it was probably in the planning long before then, whether I realised it or not.

A career at sea or in a marine-related business requires amassing a terrific volume of knowledge and the art and practice of seamanship is perhaps one of the most encyclopaedic job descriptions there is.

When I went to sea, almost 30 years ago, many would talk of days gone by when no self-respecting Chief Officer would be without his Seamanship Manual, and when I was about 12 or 13, I remember still the day my own father gave me his copy of ‘The Boatswain’s Manual’. In recent decades, shipping seems to have moved at a tremendous pace and it left me wondering whether it was possible to capture such a broad scope in a single publication that appeals to the forward thinking seafarer. This is exactly where this book positions itself – a manual for the modern day seafarer in the 21st Century.

This publication takes the traditional values of centuries of good seamanship and blends them with today’s reality and it seems appropriate that it is first published in our company’s 275th year.

By its very nature, this book is exceptionally broad in its scope and further detailed study of the topics covered in this book is available in the 600+ publications Witherbys has in print today. However, in owning this book, you have shown that you want to know and understand more about your industry, an industry that quietly keeps the world moving, carries over 90% of world trade and is set to almost double in volume over the next 20 years.

I wish you every success in your endeavours and always a safe voyage.

Iain Macneil

Managing Director

Witherby Publishing Group


The term ‘seamanship’ is much misunderstood by those who are not required to practise the art. Seamanship is also hard to define succinctly as the breadth of knowledge, skills and experience the term encompasses take many a lifetime to acquire.

When I arrived aboard my first ship a little over forty years ago, the ships that made up the world’s merchant fleets, the technologies employed on board and the regulations that governed the industry, and indeed the seafarers themselves, bore little in common with today. However, despite all the technologies that connect ship and shore and keep communications links open at all times, the fact remains that, once a ship puts to sea, it is primarily dependent upon the actions of the master and crew to safely and efficiently execute the voyage, bringing profit to the owner whilst making sure all aboard return safe and well on completion. All must depend on each other, in a variety of circumstances; the ability to perform the broad range of tasks required safely and efficiently, whilst being fully aware of the associated hazards and mitigating measures, is in the broadest sense ‘seamanship’.

The technological advances seen today have led to the launching of more and more specialist ships, all requiring equally specialist knowledge to operate them. There is a danger that the rate of technological advance outpaces the ability of the industry to train competent mariners to operate the increasingly complex ships on which they serve. The need for continued professional development for mariners is inarguable, but this can be difficult to achieve when many ships cannot provide access to the online references enjoyed by most other industries, a problem that has yet to be universally solved. That said, traditional knowledge and skills are still required as it is a stark fact that mooring accidents, lifeboat launching and enclosed space entry continue to kill and injure the unwary, as they have for many decades.

The inclusion in this book of significant incidents in sufficient detail to allow the reader to extract and apply the learning is so valuable as, without doubt, poor decisions and behaviours contribute to far too many accidents at sea. This book provides a solid foundation of knowledge to all those operating, managing and manning today’s merchant fleet. I hope that 21st Century Seamanship will be a reference that is ready to hand on every ship and in every shipping company reference library.

David Cotterell

Director, OCIMF

June 2015

Chapter 1 General Cargo Ship Types

Chapter 2 Tankers

Chapter 3 Other Ship Types

Chapter 4 Offshore Marine Operations

Chapter 5 Machinery and Equipment

Chapter 6 Pilotage

Chapter 7 Ship Handling

Chapter 8 Anchorwork

Chapter 9 Tugs and Towing

Chapter 10 Mooring Operations and Safety

Chapter 11 Waterways, River Transits and Canals

Chapter 12 Preparing a Ship for Ice

Chapter 13 Non-Standard Operations

Chapter 14 Stood by New Builds

Chapter 15 Paints and Coatings

Chapter 16 Drydock

Chapter 17 Lay-up of Ships

Chapter 18 Heavy Weather

Chapter 19 Participating in SAR

Chapter 20 Oil Spills/Pollution

Chapter 21 Practical Aspects of Salvage

Chapter 22 Main Conventions and Codes

Chapter 23 Recent Regulations

Chapter 24 Certification and Endorsements

Chapter 25 Business and Chartering

Chapter 26 Conflict and Issues Affecting Shipping

Chapter 27 Fines for Ships and Ships’ Staff

Chapter 28 In Port and Alongside

Chapter 29 Shipboard Inspections

Chapter 30 Surveys and Classification

Chapter 31 Systems of Work

Chapter 32 Permit to Work

Chapter 33 Enclosed Space Entry

Chapter 34 Health

Chapter 35 Housekeeping on Board

Chapter 36 Ships’ Equipment and Maintenance

Chapter 37 Lifeboat Release Mechanisms

Chapter 38 Fire-fighting

Chapter 39 Shipboard Drills

Chapter 40 Accident Investigation

Chapter 41 Stability

Chapter 42 Damage Stability

Chapter 43 Hull Monitoring and Inspection

Chapter 44 Energy Efficiency

Chapter 45 Ship Recycling

Chapter 46 Traditional Seamanship

Chapter 47 Wires, Ropes, Chains, Shackles & Slings

Chapter 48 Cranes and Lifting Equipment

Chapter 49 Checklists

Chapter 50 Tsunamis and Marine Phenomena



Witherbys titles are developed using scripts developed by technical experts that are peer reviewed within work groups. Typically, they seek to improve understanding of the regulations, recommendations and guidelines issued by Industry.

Witherbys staff have significant expertise in the fields of navigation and hazardous cargoes as well as in the presentation of complex subjects in a graphic and easy to understand manner.

Number of Pages:
Published Date:
August 2015
Binding Format:
Book Height:
235 mm
Book Width:
160 mm
2 kg


Product Catalogue:
Definitive Guides PDF


  • 5
    Should be a reference to hand on every ship

    This book provides a solid foundation of knowledge to those persons operating, managing and manning todays merchant fleet that has taken the author a decade to compile. I hope that 21st Century Seamanship will be a reference ready to hand on every ship and in every shipping company reference library. (Posted on 02/07/2015)

  • 5
    A tome for all departments

    Books like 21st Seamanship have an honourable pedigree, stemming from a long line of manuals for seafarers. Unlike volumes of the past, this is a thoroughly modern revision that covers important topics for today’s shipping. The publisher points out that it took about 10 years to prepare this voluminous work, which extends over 1,300 pages and is divided into 50 chapters – a labour of love – covering an extensive array of topics and also including a comprehensive index. The content is useful for the engineering and deck departments on almost any type of vessel – bulkers, general cargo, crude carriers, LNG tankers, and so on. It covers a huge range of topics from vessel types, cargoes and associated hazards, equipment, the voluminous shipping regulations, inspections, safe practices and seamanship – all highly relevant to modern shipping. It can be used by those working ashore to understand and explain safe working practices required for modern ship operation – indeed a great deal can be gained from this book from a wider audience. The chapters are well written, in a style that is clear and quickly brings out the important aspects of a topic. To reinforce key points, some text is provided in boxes of varying shades, with red reserved for crucial information about safety that must be observed. The book is extensively illustrated, with clear drawings, photographs and tables aiding comprehension of the material. The first section deals with ship types and provides examples of disasters and significant incidents and the lessons learned from each. These presentations are often very instructive, as many lessons can be conveyed to readers through these examples of ‘what went wrong and how not to do it’ A key attraction of the book is to read through the sections unfamiliar to the general reader, such as salvage and procedures that the crew might take to mitigate an incident getting worse. The section on heavy weather and freak waves has many examples of ship handling techniques as well as case studies of ships that encountered rogue waves and what happened to them. Some sections are enhanced by links to external data, either from more detailed codes and manuals or through internet links. In a section on dangerous goods and substances, the book points out the relevant codes that should be observed as well as a recommendation to seek further information from the MEDICAL First Aid Guide and other guidance published by the International Maritime Organization. In a section on launching and retrieving a fast-response boat, there are three links showing how to launching and retrieving a fast-response boat, there are three links showing how to launch and retrieve such a craft properly and one on how not to launch properly. Scrap metal has a range of hazards, the book points out, and “many lives have been lost by officers and crew members entering a hold to inspect a heating problem without taking adequate precautions for confined space entry.” This section is just one of many in the book including case studies that help drive home the important safety points. The text is also mixed with homespun truths. “Paint lockers are often the most disorganised areas on board ship and, without due care and attention, they can easily become one of the biggest hazards” Amen. 21st Century Seamanship deals with, unsurprisingly, conventions and codes as well as recent additions to the pantheon of ship rules. There is very little to fault in this book. Modern Shipping is a challenging business. A reference work of this magnitude should be aboard. Available in August. (Posted on 08/07/2015)

  • 5

    This publication is full of excellent information; it’s like a one stop shop for seamanship. Well laid out and easy to understand. When can I order it? (Posted on 20/05/2015)

  • 5
    May 2015

    It covers a lot of topics and particularly good for learning about other vessel types (Posted on 20/05/2015)

  • 5
    May 2015

    Everything is in one place, excellent diagrams, modern pictures, easy to relate. Just wished it was coming out earlier. Want one! (Posted on 20/05/2015)

  • 5
    May 2015

    Covers a lot of topics with clear waffle-free pictures. I want one! (Posted on 20/05/2015)

  • 5
    May 2015

    A lot of information on all aspects of vessel types, will be really handy for future cadets. (Posted on 20/05/2015)

  • 5
    Well done!

    This publication is innovative, professional and explicit...an excellent reference book for everyone associated with Shipping. Well Done! (Posted on 16/06/2015)

  • 5
    Lifetime of experiences and observations

    Obviously a labour of love - a lifetime's experiences and observations. (Posted on 16/06/2015)