Security/Emergency Escape Conflict

Report Text:

The Pilot Cabin on this ship is at the top of the internal stairs, aft of the chartroom.  If there were an accommodation fire, a person using the cabin would not be able to get out on the outside deck and would almost certainly die.  A person could not exit through the chartroom because the ISPS code requires bridge spaces to be locked in port.  The porthole on the cabin is probably too small for a person to get through and is secured by nuts and bolts all round i.e. no ‘dogs’; hence it is impossible to open it.  Even if someone were able to smash the port glass, he would be badly lacerated trying to get through.

CHIRP Comment

This report was sent to the vessel operator with some suggestions from the CHIRP Maritime Advisory Board and they responded as follows:

“We appreciate the feedback provided and have just now concluded the investigation. After carefully assessing the security and safety risks, we have made a provision to install a “break in case of emergency” type box with the wheelhouse key inside in the Pilot’s cabin. We agree with your comments that this would resolve both the security and safety issues.”

The Maritime Advisory Board wishes to emphasise the focus of the ISPS Code is to prevent unauthorised access to the ship and there are a number of ways in which this can be achieved without restricting emergency exits e.g. internal bolts, turnbuckles, etc.

The SOLAS regulations are also clear with respect to the priority of safety over security and state at Chapter XI-2 Reg. 8(2):

“If, in the professional judgement of the master, a conflict between any safety and security requirements applicable to the ship arises during its operations, the master shall give effect to those requirements necessary to maintain the safety of the ship….”

The master may implement temporary security measures whilst the security/safety conflict is resolved with its Administration and, if appropriate, the Contracting Government in whose port the ship is operating or intends to enter.