Hearing the phrase: “Man Overboard!”, seafarers immediately understand that a situation which demands immediate handling is occurring; a crew member/or passenger has fallen into the water. Although, it sounds difficult to happen, the danger of somebody fall off of the ship – while working on deck – is hidden almost in any procedure taking place on vessel’s open space area.
Reasons of falling overboard
- slippery deck
- working overside
- during drills on deck etc.
On purpose reasons
- suicide attempt
- criminal act
Real life “man overboard” incident
An incident has been reported, during which a man fell overboard while involved in mooring operations. The crewman who was assisted an operation was retrieving the forward mooring rope from the sea when suddenly lost his balance and fell overboard. He recovered successfully and unharmed. Following investigation showed that even though a tool box meeting had been held the previous day, there was not any specific tool box talk before the mooring and unmooring operations start. Additionally, the mooring operation had not been risk assessed, as required.
Such situations are calling for right and fast manipulations as it is very possible the person to be lost. By the time a person falls into the water, recovery procedures it is important to be followed. The recovery process is consisted of two stages:
- Bringing people to the side of the ship
- Getting them onboard
Actions to be taken in case of a “man overboard” incident
- Release lifebuoy and maneuver to pick up man, always with respect to the man
- Call the master
- Sound alarm and commence Williamson turn
- Stop engines and place them on stand by
- Alert by radio vessels in vicinity
When the person is successfully picked up from water responsible crew members should undertake first aid actions in order to help the person recover. Subsequently, vessel’s crew should inform the office about the incident and ask for medical assistance if needed.
Emergency actions are listed in the following checklist, provided by SQE Marine emergency situations. More information on how to approach “Man overboard” emergency situations, can be found in the related Ship Manual “Persons Recovery from Water”.