The ship and the seafarer can encounter many different types of emergencies. Many of them can be avoided by care and knowledge about the dangers encountered. That is why it is important not to expose yourself or others to dangers by sloppiness.
- Know your duties in an emergency!
- Be prepared - an emergency can arise at any time!
- Knowledge and training gives you the best chances to cope with an emergency.
Emergencies can arise from various causes, as for instance:
Fire/Explosion can arise due to failure or faulty operation of equipment, by self-ignition caused by carelessness with open fire or smoking in the bunk.
Collision can be caused by failure of machinery or rudder, insufficient watchkeeping or navigation faults.
Grounding or stranding, like collision, can be caused by navigation faults, failure of machinery or rudder, bad weather or the ship dragging its anchor.
Leakage occurs when the ship's hull, deck or hatches are damaged.
Icing can be dangerous for smaller vessels. It reduces the stability of the vessel, possibly resulting in capsizing.
Man-over-Board. To rescue a person fallen overboard safely on board again, a fast and efficient action is required from the crew.
All the above emergencies present danger to human lives, most of them can lead to the abandoning and loss of the ship.
In order to cope with an emergency situation in the best way it is necessary to plan ahead. The plans are called the Muster lists. Notices called Muster lists or Emergency plan instructing each crew member what to do in an emergency shall be placed on board all ships according to SOLAS. They can differ from ship to ship depending on company, type of ship and the size of the crew as well. There are certain general requirements to the contents of the Muster lists. The Muster list specifies in detail the alarm signals, the actions of crew members when any signal is heard, the muster stations and location of various equipment.
Muster lists are displayed and conspicuously posted in the navigating bridge, the officers’ and crew's mess/smoking rooms, at the control stations of the engine-room and at any other position that the Master considers necessary for crew to see.
In addition to the general instructions and duties of each crewmember specified in the Muster list, specific instructions must be prepared in writing and be exhibited in each cabin. Such instructions must be written in the crewmember's mother tongue and English and must contain:
1. The general fire and lifeboat alarm signals.
2. What action is to be taken when such signals are heard.
3. His assigned duties (even if he has not any specific duty, his responsibility, will be to gather at the muster station and make himself available to the Master or the officer in charge).
It is very important that all on board fully understand their tasks when an emergency occurs - and this is why it is the duty of every crew member to study carefully the Muster lists.
Out of consideration for your shipmates and yourself it is your duty to acquaint yourself thoroughly with the Muster list - think especially of:
- What is my task, do I understand what to do?
- Where do I have to appear?
- Where is the equipment to be used?
- Who gives the orders?
- To whom shall I report?
- What are the alarm signals of the ship?
Knowing the proper use of your ship's life-saving appliances is important for yourself and others if an emergency is arising. You can improve the knowledge you already have by participating in the drills.
To make sure that all on board constantly know their duties in an emergency, drills are to take place. It is during drills that things possibly not functioning quite according to the purpose will be found and it is during drills you ask the questions you want to be answered.
Remember! Ask - while there is time to answer! During an emergency there is no time to answer questions.
As it is most important that the crew is prepared to act correctly in any emergency it is necessary always to be aware of what could possibly lead to an accident; because of that, drills for various emergencies take place once a month but within 24 hours from sailing if more than 25% of the crew were repatriated. Each abandon ship drill shall include:
1. Summoning the crew and any passengers to the muster stations.
2. Reporting to stations and preparing for their duties.
3. Checking that lifejackets are correctly donned.
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