It takes a great deal of effort and coordination to manoeuvre vessels and in case of a man overboard situation, turning these ships around may take a great deal of time. In such cases, correct actions will determine the fate of the person in question.
Actions to be taken by the person overboard:
- Keep calm and assess the situation.
- Try to attract the attention of the people on board the ship or passing by vessels in case anyone hasn’t seen him falling overboard.
- Do not drink sea water as it is dangerous.
- Do not waste energy by trying to swim. In most man overboard cases, people have died from exhaustion rather than drowning.
The following actions must be taken by the crew:
- In such a situation it is crucial to locate the person and keep a constant visual on them.
- The words “Man overboard” should be shouted along the side of the ship i.e. port of starboard side until someone informs the bridge and raises an alarm.
- When a man falls overboard, the ship internal alarm bell sounds 3 long rings and ship whistle will blow 3 long blasts to notify the crew on board and the other ships in nearby vicinity.
- The ‘O’ flag must be raised to inform other ships in the vicinity.
- Throw a lifebuoy with smoke float, light (and SART if available) near to the fallen person. More then one life buoy must not be thrown as it will distract the fallen crew who is already in panic.
- The ship’s engine must be slowed down and the ship should be turned toward the fallen crew for the recovery manoeuvre. Engine is to be on stand by all the time.
- Care must be taken to manoeuvre the ship carefully as not to hit the fallen crew with ship. The rescue boat and the rescue team must be ready.
- Rescue the man overboard and put the person in Thermal protective Aid (TPA) to avoid extra body heat loss. First Aid must be administered according to requirement.
- Every effort must be made to succeed in the first attempt as even a little delay can cost a human life.
It is very important to ensure that safety measures are practised regularly and the crew are prepared for every emergency. Drills may seem unnecessary and redundant but in situations such as these, they will determine the life or death of people.
References: Prezi, Marine Insight, Bright Hub Engineering, Cult of Sea
Sea News Feature, February 27