A disturbing report from a ship’s crew member concerning non-availability of life rafts.
What the Reporter told us:
Whilst transiting the North Atlantic in very rough weather, all of the vessel’s life rafts were secured inside the accommodation. This resulted in the freefall lifeboat being the only equipment immediately available in the event of having to abandon ship.
The reporter declined to name the vessel or company for fear of reprisals / loss of job. The life rafts were moved inside the accommodation on the direct instructions of the master after the vessel received a severe weather warning from the company. There was a severe weather check list as part of the SMS, but there was no reference to securing life rafts inside the accommodation.
The Maritime Advisory Board noted that this was a terrible practice – life rafts will not float free in the accommodation. They have a purpose, which is of course abandonment, and thus need to be effectively secured on deck.
The fact that there was a severe weather checklist suggests a level of competence and integrity on the part of the company, but is it fit for purpose or just a ‘tick box’ exercise? When the ship’s crew are so worried about reprisals that they will not notify either the master or the DPA, there is something wrong with the culture onboard and within the company. In this case the self-monitoring function of the DPA has broken down.
CHIRP highlights this question to all mariners. How best can you ensure the integrity of your Life Saving Appliances to ensure they are ready for use in any emergency?