A ship’s crew must be prepared at all times to tackle and fight any kind of emergencies which can arise due to reasons such as rough weather, machinery malfunction, pirate attack, human error etc. Such emergencies can lead to a fire, collision, flooding, grounding, environmental pollution, and loss of life.
The Muster List consists of duties and responsibilities in case of such mishaps, designated and assigned to each person on the ship; in other words, it is a list of the functions each member of a ship crew is required to perform in case of emergency.
Owing to it being a document that specifies the job that every crew member is assigned with in case of an emergency, it must be displayed at every conspicuous location onboard. Some of the important areas where the muster list is posted are- Bridge, Engine room, accommodation alleyways etc. – areas where ship’s crew spends the maximum of their time.
Clear instructions are provided for every person on board in the language or languages required by the ship’s flag State and also in the English language. The list shall be ready before the ship proceeds to sea. The regulatory requirements for the Muster List are specified in SOLAS Chapter III, Reg. 8 and 37. The regulation applies to all ships.
The Important features which are displayed in the muster lists are:
Types of Emergency and different alarms for the same
Main emergencies such as fire, man overboard, abandon ship, oil spill etc. are listed along with dedicated visual and audible alarms. The alarms and indications are visually specified in the list, for further clarity. It includes details of the GA alarm and PA system and action to be taken by crew and passengers when this alarm is sounded. The list specifies how the order to abandon ship will be given, which is usually by the Master’s verbal order.
Instruction to follow in case of different types of emergency
Brief instruction is given in case the alarm for a particular emergency is sounded, which includes action to be taken by the crew onboard. Specific duties that are assigned to each person on board are mentioned very clearly in the list. Some of the essential duties specified in the list are:
- Closing of the watertight doors, skylights, portholes and other openings
- Carriage of equipment and readying the survival craft and other life-saving appliances
- Muster of the crew (and passengers, if applicable)
- Heads of emergency teams and fire teams to streamline the action against such emergencies
- The muster list shall also specify the apt substitute in case any person is injured or disabled
Common Muster point for all the crew
The common muster point is clearly described if any emergency alarm is sounded. Normally life boat deck area is made as a common muster point. However, the muster point could vary with the type of emergency that is at hand
Crew list of all crew member with assigned life boat
The crew name is displayed along with the assigned life boat for abandon ship emergency. Normally two life boats are assigned in between all the crew member i.e. port side and starboard side life boat. The list displays the officers that are in charge of LSA/FFA maintenance so that all equipment systems are ready for immediate use.
Assigned duties for abandon ship
All the crew listed in the muster list are assigned with duties to perform in an emergency situation like carrying EPIRB and SART, lifeboat and life raft launching etc. It is imperative to always remember that the ship is abandoned only when the Master’s gives a verbal order
Different teams with assigned duties for the individuals of the team for emergencies
Different teams are made to tackle emergencies like fire, flooding etc. these are –
- Command Team: Operated from the bridge. The Master is the overall in charge and the Third Mate assists in relaying the orders of the Master to the respective emergency teams in addition to assisting the Master on Bridge.
- Emergency Team 1: Operates at the point of scenario. Usually headed by the Chief Mate/Second Engineer. The team leaders ensure that the rest are complying
- Emergency Team 2: Standby team and helping hand for emergency team.
- Roving Commission: Team working along with all another team.
- Engine room team: This team stand by in ECR.
- Medical Team: Usually consists of the salon staff (GS + Chief Cook) who are conversant with the first aid to be administered in case a person is injured while carrying out his tasks in an emergency situation
Ship Specification and emergency communication equipment
Ship specifications are displayed along with the communication methods and equipment to be used in case of emergency. Most of this equipment systems have the instructions for usage very clearly given on the body or cover of it.
Special and general instruction by master
A separate section for general and special instructions is provided which is used by the master or the chief engineer of the vessel to keep inform or to instruct the crew of the ship.
The muster list is posted to keep the crew aware of the different emergency situations and duties to be performed if such situations occur in reality. For this, regular training and drill must be conducted by the master of the ship to ensure that all crew members are familiar with life-saving and fire fighting appliances.
A Muster Card must be placed (by the Third Mate since he’s in charge of the LSA and FFA) in every person’s cabin that specifies the person’s muster station and the exact task that is assigned to them in the case of a specific emergency. The alarm signals are also mentioned so that the person is not confused as to the nature of the emergency. Illustrations and instructions for dlife jacketsjackets may also be included.
It is obvious that protocols laid out will hardly make any sense in the case of a real emergency on board (not drills). However, having a defined set of tasks during an emergency will actually ease the workload on each person and help deal with the situation quicker and better.
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Shilavadra Bhattacharjee is a shipbroker with a background in commercial operations after having sailed onboard as a Third Officer. His interests primarily lie in the energy sector, books and travelling.