What needs to be considered

Helicopter operations have been increased, compared to past times and it is possible for the crew to successfully handle a relative situation. Therefore, it is important that the crew have adequate training and to be familiarized with the related risks.

There are too many parameters that affect such operations. Weather is one of most important. The wind and the wave are reflected on vessels pitch and roll and jeopardize the safe approach for landing or winching. A good estimation should be made by Master and if necessary a change of course to reduce pitching and rolling during operation’s final stage may be required.

How to conduct safe helicopter operations

For safe helicopter operations onboard vessels, the following are of outmost importance:

  • Effective communication between the vessel and the helicopter before and during operations.
  • The strength of helicopter landing area should be ensured with documentation provided by the owner of the vessel.
  • The winching area should also be determined in order to ensure that the helicopter could approach and hover safely without obstructions.
  • Finally, there should be ensured that the necessary equipment is effective and well maintained, ready to be used if needed.

Actions to be taken by the crew

Vessel’s crew should help operations and more specifically they should:

    1. Remove all loose objects from the operating area, as well as all aerials, standing or running rears that should be lowered and secured. The deck should be adequately prepared and all openings should be properly secured.
    2. Ensure that there is the proper communication between the deck party and the bridge.
    3. Hoist a pennant to be seen by helicopter’s pilot and in case of night operations they should ensure that the correct lighting has been switched on.
    4. Ensure that fire hoses, foam hoses, dry powder fire extinguishers are ready for use.
    5. Be ready and properly dressed and a rescue party should be detailed. Also, a man overboard rescue boat should be ready for lowering.

To ensure that the above actions have been followed respectfully, the following Emergency Checklist provided by SQE Marine can be used as a guide from ship’s crew, when helicopter operations are taking place