This story that goes back some years but may still be relevant on some ships today. I joined a bulk carrier as chief engineer. One evening I went into the deep freeze room in my tropical whites for a quick check of the evaporator coil when the ship rolled and the door closed on me. Not to worry I thought, all the rooms could be opened by push rods from inside. I pushed the rod but the door would not open, the push rod was too short and not operating the exterior catch. I rang the alarm bell and hoped for the best knowing that the bell was situated in the galley and that the cook might be still in there.
I waited for approximately 5 minutes, ringing furiously and getting extremely cold in the meantime, when joy, the door was opened by the chief cook who told me that he had gone into the galley to get something, when he heard the bell. Lucky or what?
I checked all the rooms and their alarms. Three had short push rods and three had faulty alarms. I welded extensions to the push rods and the alarms were also repaired.
Lessons learnt: My first job on joining any vessel after that was to check the cold rooms to see that the push rods were long enough to open the doors from inside and that the alarms worked. How many ships have a testing regime today of such important, but sometimes not obvious, items? All I hope.
Could such an incident happen nowadays? We will welcome your comments.