Your Guide to Tackle Emergency Situations On Board Ships

An emergency situation on the ship must be handled with confidence and calmness, for haste decisions and “jumping to conclusions” can make matters even worse.

Efficient tackling of emergency situations can be achieved by continuous training and by practical drills onboard vessels. However, it has been seen that in spite of adequate training, people get panic attacks and eventually do not do what they should in an emergency situation.

As far as the seafarer is concerned, first and foremost, he or she must be aware of the different types of emergency situations that can arise onboard a ship. This would help in understanding the real scenario in a better way, and would also lead to taking corrective actions to save life, property, and environment.

We have prepared a brief instruction guide that must be given to all the seafarers onboard to tackle different emergency situations. 

ship emergency
Representation image

Emergency Situation Guide

Officers and crew should familiarize themselves thoroughly with the Fire Training Manual and the training manual on Life Saving Appliances of the ship.

General Alarm

 In case of a general alarm:

  • Rush to muster station with a life jacket, immersion suit, and act according to the vessel’s Muster Lists.
  • Act as per the emergency explained by the in-charge officer.

Fire alarm

 In case of a fire alarm: 

  • Inform Officer On Watch.
  • Check if it is a false or true alarm.
  • Report back of findings.
  • In case of fire, raise the Fire/General alarm as soon as possible. Try to stop fire and if it is not possible, muster according to the Fire Muster List.

Man Overboard signal

 In case of Man Overboard Signal: 

  • Rush to the deck and try to locate the crew member fallen in the water
  • Throw lifebuoy and inform deck. Read more here.

Abandon Ship Signal 

In case of Abandon Ship Signal: 

  • Rush to the muster station
  • Carry as much ration, water, and warm clothing as you can carry
  • Act according to the vessel’s Muster Lists.

Engineers Call 

In case of engineers call: 

  • All Ship Engineers Should assemble in the Engine Control Room

CO2 alarm 

  • In case of CO2 alarm, leave the Engine Room immediately.

Engine Room Flooding 

  • In case of engine room flooding, Chief Engineer should be called immediately and a general alarm should be raised.
  • Immediate action should be taken in preventing more seawater to enter the engine room and Emergency bilging from the Engine Room should be established in accordance with the Chief Engineer.

Cargo Hold Flooding 

  • In case of cargo hold flooding, the Master must be informed immediately.
  • All precautions must be taken to contain the flooding to that hold.
  • The general alarm must be raised.

Pollution prevention

  • In case of any oil spill/pollution, immediate action should be taken according to the vessel’s “Shipboard Oil Pollution Prevention Plan”.
  • Emergency Plan (SOPEP) and Onboard SOPEP Equipment located in Deck Stores should be used in case of Oil Spill.

In case of any other emergency situations, call for help either by using the phone or by activating the EMERGENCY CALL. Whatever might be the situation, keep the Master, Chief Engineer and Officer on Watch informed of the situation all the time.

You may also like to read-Risk Assessment for Ships: A General Overview

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About Author

An ardent sailor and a techie, Anish Wankhede has voyaged on a number of ships as a marine engineer officer. He loves multitasking, networking, and troubleshooting. He is the one behind the unique creativity and aesthetics at Marine Insight.

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  1. Excellent.Am a former Chief Engineer with 8 years of post sea experience in Manning,Technical and now elearning.Keep up the good work!

  2. This is really a big help not only for seafarer like us but also to other passengers having a voyage. Double thumbs up for this information.

  3. It’s so good to know what the different emergency signals mean, like the man overboard signal. I imagine that most people aren’t too familiar with what to do in an emergency situation when they’re on a ship! My brother and his partner are planning on going on a cruise, so I’ll have to make sure they are familiar with this list so they can deal with injuries and emergency situations.

  4. Hi Anish!

    Please let me know some tips/action to be taken when 2 crew members are getting fight during manoeuvring the ship on Singapore strait.

    For example ch. Cook and motorman.

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