Alarms Used on Board Ships & the Purposes they Serve

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While there are actions that crew follow for a man overboard emergency, there are three different turns that can be carried out in such cases.

  1. The General Alarm – General emergency alarm on the ship is recognised by at least 7 short rings of bell followed by a long ring or at least 7 short blast on ship’s whistle followed by one long blast. Activation Points – Navigation Bridge

Actions to be taken by the Squads:

    • Muster at respective muster stations
    • At the same time an announcement will be made on the PA system by the OOW about the nature of the emergency.
    • All 3 squads (SQUAD – 1, SQUAD – 2, SUPPORT SQUAD) along with the SITE LEADER to take actions accordingly as per muster plan.

2. The Man Overboard 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. Activation Points – Navigation Bridge

Actions to be taken by the Squads:

    • Muster at respective muster stations.
    • At the same time an announcement will be made on the PA system by the OOW about the details of the person overboard like the name of the crew member and whether he has fallen on the PORT SIDE or STARBOARD SIDE.
    • A suitable manoeuver like the Williamson turn will start to commence by the OOW.
    • One of the action squads prepares for launching the MOB boat/ Lifeboat.
    • The SUPPORT SQUAD will bring the first aid kit.
    • The other action squad prepares for the recovery of the MOB boat/ Lifeboat after completion of the task.

3. The Fire Alarm – A Fire alarm consists of continuous ringing on ship’s bell or continuous sounding of ship’s horn.

Activation Points:

    • Navigation Bridge
    • Engine Control Room
    • From each deck in accommodation
    • Fire Station
    • From various places inside engine room

Actions to be taken by the Squads:

      • Muster at our respective muster stations
      • At the same time an announcement will be made on the PA system by the OOW about the location of fire after looking in fire indicator.
      • If the fire is on deck/accommodation SQUAD – 2 (mostly consist of deck crew) to make first entry and if in machinery space then SQUAD – 1 (mostly consist of engine crew) to make entry.
      • The SUPPORT SQUAD will support in the boundary cooling and arrange for the first aid kit.
      • If the fire is on deck, the accommodation SITE LEADER will be C/O and if in the machinery space, then the SITE LEADER will be C/E and they will be in continuous touch with the bridge.
  1. Machinery Space Alarm – If any of the machinery kept in the engine room malfunctions, a common engine room alarm is operated and the problem can be seen in the engine control room.
  2. Abandon Ship Alarm – The general alarm is sounded and everybody comes to the emergency muster station where the master or his substitute (Chief Officer) gives a verbal order to abandon ship.
  3. Cargo Space CO2 Alarm System – The cargo spaces of the ship are also fitted with fixed fire-fighting systems, which have a different alarm when operated.
  4. Navigational Alarm – In the navigation bridge, most of the navigational equipment and navigation lights are fitted with failure alarm. If any of these malfunctions, an alarm will be sounded in an alarm panel displaying which system is malfunctioning.
  5. Machinery Space CO2 Alarm System – The machinery space is fitted with CO2 fixed with the fire extinguishing system whose audible and visual alarm is entirely different from machinery space alarm and other alarm for easy reorganisation.
  6. Ship Security Alarm System – Most of the ocean going vessels are fitted with a security alert alarm system, which is a silent alarm system sounded during a pirate attack. This signal is connected with different coastal authorities all over the world via a global satellite system to inform about the piracy.

References: Marine Steer, Cult of Sea, Marine Insight

Sea News Feature, February 28