Issue 37 Editorial
Everyone involved in the design, build and operation of ships has a responsibility for ensuring that accidents do not occur either to the ship or its systems or to the people who are working and living onboard.
Everyone involved in the design, build and operation of ships has a responsibility for ensuring that accidents do not occur either to the ship or its systems or to the people who are working and living onboard. Survivability is not just about the adequacy of firefighting, damage control, lifesaving and security facilities; it is also about having the correct resources, training and procedures in place to ensure the safety of the ship and to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of its seafarers.
The seafarer needs to be constantly aware of the hazards of working onboard ship, especially the risk of fire or flood, of the dangers of entering enclosed spaces, and of piracy or terrorist attack. The seafarer also needs to be aware of the potential psychological effects of a crisis or traumatic experience at sea, and to know from where he can find advice and support.
Even in a well built and well-run ship, accidents resulting from material or human failure can occur, and lapses in security can result in danger to the ship. Those who work and live on board ships must always be prepared to expect the unexpected, the consequences of which can result in fire or flood and possibly a subsequent need to abandon ship and to be rescued; or to be subjected to acts of piracy and terrorism.
Regular onboard continuation training and realistic emergency drills are of paramount importance, not simply to satisfy the requirements of SOLAS but to ensure that, in the (hopefully unlikely) event of an incident occurring, the crew are well rehearsed on how to deal with the situation. Our cover story provides an excellent example of how good training and effective drills can pay off in the event of a casualty.
But we should not have to rely simply on good training and effective drills to make survival the most likely outcome, because ships should be designed and managed to achieve that outcome. In a risk assessment world and with gaming technology available it is possible to learn from incidents without having them – albeit the lessons learned from accident investigations should also be factored in - so that physical arrangements and procedures can be designed to facilitate the correct response.