#1 Watertight Integrity

The failure to maintain watertight integrity was the number one cause of vessel losses during the 2017 reporting year. NTSB advises owners:

  • To conduct regular oversight and maintenance of hulls and watertight bulkheads, even during layup periods.
  • Oversight should include monitoring the hull thickness, maintaining sufficient marine coatings, and using cathodic protection systems.
  • Known issues with watertight integrity and wastage need to be repaired using permanent means.
  • Bilge piping and pumps should be in good working order and alarms should be tested regularly.
  • Watertight doors should be checked and maintained to ensure they are properly sealed when closed. While under way, all watertight doors should be closed at all times.
  • Example: Lady Gertrude

#2 Heavy-Weather Operations

  • Mariners should always exercise caution when heavy weather is forecast
  • Emergency in heavy weather risks endangering the crew and rescue response personnel.
  • When dangerous conditions are predicted, mariners should consider delaying getting underway, returning to port early, or altering the vessel’s route.
  • If heavy weather cannot be avoided, special care must be taken to ensure cargo remains secured and watertight integrity is maintained.
  • Example: El Faro

#3 Fatigue

  • Despite increasing awareness, fatigue continues to be a leading cause of accidents in all modes of transportation.
  • In marine transportation, this is particularly true in high-tempo sectors such as the fishing industry, but it is not limited to this sector.
  • Fatigue impacts responsiveness, decision-making ability, judgment, and productivity.
  • Crewmembers should recognize the effects of fatigue and get adequate rest.
  • Vessel owners and operators should adopt policies to mitigate the effects of fatigue and provide a sufficient complement of crew to allow for required rest.
  • ExampleNathan E Stewart

Fatigue is not a badge of honor; it is a recipe for disaster

#4 Bridge Resource Management

  • The collective vigilance of the watchteam mitigates the weaknesses or oversight of any one watchteam member.
  • The presence of a pilot onboard does not relieve bridge team members of their responsibilities for the safe navigation of the ship.
  • The master and the officer of the watch must collaborate closely with the pilot to maintain an accurate check of the ship’s position and movement.
  • In addition, they must not hesitate to challenge or, if necessary, take appropriate action to prevent a collision, a grounding, or an allision.
  • Communications should be open and, where circumstances permit, involve discussion of the intended maneuver or any deviations from the plan.
  • Example: Ocean Freedom

#5 Cell Phones and Distraction

  • Using cell phones and other portable electronic devices has been demonstrated to be visually, manually, and cognitively distracting.
  • Talking on cell phones can have serious consequences in safety-critical situations, and texting can be even more distracting because it requires visual attention to the display screen of the device.
  • Control of the vessel and attention to the safe handling of the ship must be maintained at all times until the ship is safely anchored or moored.
  • Example: Aris T

#6 Anchoring in High Water and Strong Currents

  • The risk of dragging or losing an anchor is substantially increased in rivers and channels during periods of high water and strong currents.
  • Mariners should adhere to Coast Guard advisories and pilot association guidance for the prevailing conditions and be able to respond effectively to an anchor-dragging situation.
  • Mariners should consider measures such as increasing the scope of anchor chains, stationing navigation and engineering watches, keeping propulsion and steering systems at the ready, and retaining a pilot onboard.
  • Example: Star of Abu Dhabi

#7 Preventive Maintenance

  • Without necessary preventive maintenance, equipment cannot be relied on to perform as designed and may fail during critical operations.
  • Mariners should review the manufacturer’s manuals and guidance on a regular basis to ensure conformance with recommended maintenance plans.
  • Maintenance should be carried out in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions and with the appropriate tools.
  • Additionally, owners and operators should ensure that personnel performing maintenance are adequately trained and qualified for the work.
  • Example: Carnival Liberty 

#8 Safety Management Systems

  • An effective SMS has a company safety policy, a risk management program, a safety assurance system, and a safety promotion program.
  • The safety policy is management’s commitment to continually improve safety.
  • The risk management program determines the need for, and adequacy of, new or revised risk controls based on the assessment of acceptable risk.
  • Safety assurance is management’s system of internal evaluation intended to assure the execution of safety-related measures and to make certain that employees understand their roles.
  • The safety promotion program advances the principal of safety as an organizational core value using practices that support a sound safety culture.
  • ExamplePeter F GellatlyEl Faro

#9 Monitoring Rudder Order Response

  • Bridge team members should always monitor the helmsman’s response to rudder orders for correct angle and direction of movement.
  • If an error is detected or if there is confusion about the order given, a correction or clarification should follow.
  • The presence of a pilot on the bridge does not relieve the other bridge team members of their duty to actively monitor the vessel’s position.
  • Example: Sparna 

#10 Vessel Abandonment

  • In the event that personnel must abandon a vessel in an emergency, both passengers and crew must have sufficient information, training, and equipment so that they can survive until rescue.
  • Lifeboat and liferaft assignments must be updated after crew changes.
  • Crewmembers must be trained on the proper use of all lifesaving and survival gear on board.
  • Non-crewmembers should be given a complete safety briefing prior to departure that includes actions to be taken during emergencies.
  • Where applicable, personnel should have access to properly sized immersion or exposure suits.
  • During training or safety briefings, immersion suits should be donned to ensure proper fit and familiarity with instructions.
  • Example: Exito

#11 VHF Reception

  • Mariners that operate offshore or in remote waters should be aware of ship-to-shore VHF coverage limitations and have an alternate means to contact search and rescue centers, such as satellite communication.
  • Crewmembers should be familiar with and able to use all of the vessels installed marine distress and alerting systems.
  • Example: Maximus 

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