Short sharp lessons

CHIRP has received several reports with quick lessons that can be learnt from each.

What did the reporters tell us?

Life saving equipment: Three lifeboat incidents were reported. A hydrostatic locking device of a lifeboat release mechanism was found to be broken; a lifeboat release gear spring was missing from the release hook; and a freefall prevention device was not properly rigged during a drill.

Machinery spaces: Four incidents were recorded in engine rooms of lower deck plates or manhole covers left opened without any warning signs or guards. In addition two cases of safety chains to vertical ladders being unsecured were reported. All offered high potential for slips, falls and serious injury.

Galley fire risk: A galley oven was left ‘on’ while unattended at night; it was discovered during evening rounds.

Clogged with intake: During transit of a narrow shallow channel the engine room sea water intake became clogged with fish, with the potential for engine failure, grounding and closure of the channel

The lessons to be learnt

Life saving equipments (including lifeboat release mechanisms) are not in regular use; and yet when they are required, the need for their perfect operation is instant and overriding. Thorough inspections and maintenance are of the highest priority.

The sea suction incident quoted fish; other potential obstructions can include mud and plastic. Procedures should be in place to deal with blockages from these  sources.


  • Ensure high and low sea suction strainers are clean before transiting a narrow shallow channel.
  • Have spare clean strainers and the necessary tools available.
  • Ensure familiarity with changeover procedures for strainers when needed for cleaning.
  • Consider switching from low to high suctions in the channel.
  • Closely monitor the sea water cooling systems temperatures.

Unguarded open plates and manholes can be prevented by good

housekeeping, planning, toolbox talks and supervision. MIND THE GAP!

An unattended galley poses a severe fire threat and risk to all on board. “Galley shut down” checklists, and provisions of external main power breakers outside galleys, are suggested as good means of ensuring that drills are observed and risks of inadvertent failure to ‘switch off’ are reduced to the minimum.

CHIRP Suggests

Be ready for probable failures in particular circumstances. 99% correct operation of life saving gear and arrangements is not good enough; by definition, the requirement is 100%. Put another way, in circumstances in which you are unlikely to get a second chance; don’t make one necessary.