The emergency systems onboard are linked to many operations and require proper preparation. In this regard, such systems and alarm panels should be checked thoroughly while related drills need to be scheduled in order to avoid PSC deficiencies.
he following practices may ensure compliance with the requirements for preparation of emergency equipment, along with the crews’ ability to respond to emergency situations.
Key practices for PSC
#1 A vessel specific Damage Control Plan should be available on board in accordance with IMO MSC.1/Circular 1245 guidance, to provide ship officers with information on the ship’s watertight subdivision and equipment related to maintaining the boundaries in the event of damage to the ship causing flooding.
#2 Each ship should be equipped with a public address system as per SOLAS III and LSA code requirement. The public address system shall be a loudspeaker installation enabling the broadcast or messages into all spaces where crew members or passengers, or both, are normally present, and to muster stations. The sound levels for each space are specified in SOLAS III, LSA Code and IMO Unified interpretation MSC.1/Circ.1530.
#3 The alarm indication system should identify the space, indicating the presence of water in the compartment being monitored if reaches the sensor. The Alarm display on the bridge (and other spaces if additional display exists) should be in proper working condition with adequate lighting. Use the alarm test function to check the lights working condition on the display.
#4 Steering gear installations and emergency alarms should be in accordance with SOLAS V Reg.26. The regulation requires pre-sailing tests of steering gear. The test procedure should include:
- The main steering gear
- The auxiliary steering gear
- The remote steering gear control systems
- The steering positions located on the navigation bridge
- The emergency power supply
- The rudder angle indicators in relation to the actual position of the rudder
- The remote steering gear control system power failure alarms
- The steering gear power unit failure alarms
- The automatic isolating arrangements and other automatic equipment
#5 Muster Lists on board should be according to SOLAS Chapter III, Reg. 8 and 37 requirements. Ensure that Muster Lists on board are:
- updated with latest crew changes
- posted to conspicuous places throughout the ship
- in accordance with Flag Administration requirements and written in ship’s working language as per SMS.
- All type of possible emergencies are included and each crew member has clearly defined specific duties for each emergency. Such duties include the preparation, swinging out or deploying of survival craft and other life-saving appliances, the closing of watertight and fire doors, and all other openings such as skylights, portholes and side scuttles and any openings in the hull. Duties in connection with fire-fighting, the use of communication equipment and the equipping of survival craft must also be shown.
#6 Emergency source of electrical power requirements should be as per SOLAS CHAPTER II-1 Regulation 42 – passenger ships and Regulation 43- cargo ships. The distribution of the emergency power should provide an additional period (36 for passenger ships, 18 for cargo ships) of sufficient power to specific systems. Frequency of testing the energy distribution from emergency source of electrical power on board depends on Company’s SMS, Flag Administration requirements and classification society guidance.
#7 The emergency generator is one of most common detainable items during PSC inspections. The Emergency generator should be able to start automatically in case of black out. In order to check the appropriate auto working condition or emergency generator a simulation test should be conducted (if applicable) by properly trained and familiarized crew members. The emergency generator should be able to start manual with two different ways. When testing the emergency generator ensure that all lights and indicators are properly working on emergency switchboard.
#8 The battery sourced emergency electrical power should be able to auto supply the emergency switch board in case of black out. Additionally, it should be able to carry the emergency electrical load without recharging while maintaining the voltage of the battery throughout the discharge period within 12% above or below its nominal voltage.
#9 The emergency fire pump should be able to start and provide adequate water pressure to fire system. The emergency fire pump should have adequate fuel in tank in order to operate for 3 hours at least. A common item during PSC inspections is the additional fuel availability of reserve fuel outside main machinery space in order to allow the pump to run for additional 15 hours. Check the capability and pressure level of emergency fire pump by deploying a fire hose on bridge wing and on the forecastle and check the water stream.
Crew training is the key
With regards to emergency systems, a training program on board is vital. This should focus on the deployment and use of equipment required during emergencies onboard. However, considering that most of such items are covered during seafarers’ initial training in accordance with STCW (basic and advance) while familiarization onboard is a Company specific issue, as per ISM code, it is important during the familiarization period, crew members to be trained in order to use properly the onboard installed equipment for emergencies.