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Contingency Planning

Composition of Emergency Teams in the Contingency Plan:

  1. The Command Team – will be on the Bridge ( called Command Center) and take overall charge of all operations. Hence, frequent feedback, short and crisp, is necessary from each team to the Command Center. Navigation, communication, maintenance of records of all actions and their timings, etc. will be carried out at the Command Center.
  2. The Emergency Team – would be divided into two, depending on the emergency. Where the emergency is in the E/R, the second engineer will be the leader of the Primary Team and Chief Officer will lead the back-up team. If the emergency is elsewhere, the Chief Officer will be the leader of the Primary team and the Second Engineer will lead the backup team.
  3. The Support Team – also called the medical team, will look after administration of first aid, if and when required. They will prepare the patients for evacuation, prepare lifeboats in case of necessity to abandon the ship,  shut watertight doors and vents, provide assistance to other teams as directed by the Command Team, etc.
  4. Engine Room Team – also called Roving Team, will be under the charge of Chief Engineer. They will attend to E/R systems, services and controls, start emergency fire pump when required, isolate electricity from compartments on fire, shut off ventilation systems to compartments on fire and provide assistance to other teams as directed by the command team.
  5. Crew for Rescue Boat – This team is mainly for man overboard or for picking up survivors from the water. They will prepare the rescue boat and on specific instructions from the command team, lower and launch the rescue boat, rescues the man or survivors and get hoisted back on board.

IMO for preparing Contingency Plans for Various Emergencies:

All crews are familiar with a system of procedures and guidelines for performing potentially hazardous and safety related operations.  For example:

  • Entry into enclosed spaces.
  • Actions after collision.
  • Abandonment.

The majority of these procedures and guidelines have been well documented in publications such as the Code of Safe Working Practises for Seamen, SOLAS, MARPOL, MGNs etc.  However they relied on the Master, officers and crew remembering them from their studies.  The additional problem lay with them being ‘generic’ rather than vessel-specific.  Other procedures were developed from the experience of the Master on board at a particular time, which caused confusion amongst officers and crews when the Master was relieved.

This was one of the reasons for the introduction of ISM and, in particular, the vessel’s SMS.

Since 1 July 2002 all vessels of 500 gross tonnes and above must carry a SMC and will be the subject of internal and external audits to verify that the documented procedures are being followed.  It is true to say that a large number of companies delayed the production and subsequent approval of their SMSs until very close to the implementation date.

Company SMSs were developed utilising a range of resources, for example quality managers appointed from both within the company and externally, consultancy companies and ‘off the shelf’ SMS models.  This led to a proliferation of differing methods for producing SMSs and the ways in which they were presented, particularly at shipboard level.

The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) identified this as a problem area and stated that they were “concerned that the presence on board ships of different and non-harmonized emergency plans may be counter-productive in case of an emergency” hence the adoption of Resolution A.852(20), on 27 November 1997, of Guidelines for a Structure of an Integrated System of Contingency Planning for Shipboard Emergencies.

These guidelines will be the basis for your study in preparing emergency and damage control plans.  They may vary from the system on board your vessel/s but the essential elements will be similar, namely : Planning, Preparing, Training, Response actions, Reporting.

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