An emergency does not come with an alarm but an alarm can definitely help us to tackle an emergency or to avoid an emergency situation efficiently and in the right way. Alarm systems are installed all over the ship’s systems and machinery to notify the crew on board about the dangerous situation that can arise on the ship.
Alarm on board ships are audible as well as visual to ensure that a person can at least listen to the audible alarm when working in a area where seeing a visual alarm is not possible and vice versa.
It is a normal practice in the international maritime industry to have alarm signal for a particular warning similar in all the ships, no matter in which seas they are sailing or to which company they belongs to. This commonness clearly helps the seafarer to know and understand the type of warning or emergency well and help to tackle the situation faster.
The main alarms that are installed in the ship to give audio-visual warnings are as follows:
1) General Alarm: The general alarm on the ship is recognized by 7 short ringing of bell followed by a long ring or 7 short blasts on the ship’s horn followed by one long blast. The general alarm is sounded to make aware the crew on board that an emergency has occurred.
2) Fire Alarm: A fire alarm is sounded as continuous ringing of ship’s electrical bell or continuous sounding of ship’s horn.
3) 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 and the other ships in nearby vicinity.
4) Navigational Alarm: In the navigation bridge, most of the navigational equipments 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 Alarm: The machinery in the engine room has various safety devices and alarms fitted for safe operation. If any one of these malfunctions, a common engine room alarm is operated and the problem can be seen in the engine control room control panel which will display the alarm.
6) Machinery Space CO2 Alarm: The machinery space is fitted with CO2 fixed with fire extinguishing system whose audible and visual alarm is entirely different from machinery space alarm and other alarm for easy reorganization.
7) Cargo Space CO2 Alarm: The cargo spaces of the ship are also fitted with fixed fire fighting system which has a different alarm when operated.
8) Abandon Ship Alarm: When the emergency situation on board ship goes out of hands and ship is no longer safe for crew on board ship. The master of the ship can give a verbal Abandon ship order, but this alarm is never given in ship’s bell or whistle. The general alarm is sounded and every body comes to the emergency muster station where the master or his substitute (chief Officer) gives a verbal order to abandon ship.
9) Ship Security Alarm System: Most of the ocean going vessels are fitted with security alert alarm system, which is a silent alarm system sounded in a pirate attack emergency. This signal is connected with different coastal authorities all over the world via a global satellite system to inform about the piracy.
Different Alarm signals of the vessel are clearly described in the muster list along with the action to be carried out so that all the crew member can perform there duties within no time in actual emergency.
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