Saturday, 20 September 2014

Earth Quake:

A powerful earthquake struck when my ship was tied at a bulk cargo berth.
The jetty shuddered. I heard sounds and vibrations that resembled a strong astern main-engines-kick. A ship Captain's mind has to handle the unforeseen. The phone network got jammed, normal communication became impossible. Frankly, no checklists was of real use to first understand what was wrong and how to respond to the unique emergency on hands.

It was time for going back to basics, using the Master's command skills, leadership and common sense.

Here I had to face the following at once:

  • Determine what was wrong - I had to convince my fellow senior staff that it was an earthquake _ I took help of the USGS earthquakes site to confirm this as soon as one of the smartphones got the internet going.

  • I had to assess & respond to:
                 - the damage from within
                 - the damage from the jetty ('the land')
                 - the damage & changed topography due to buckled sea floor
                 - the damage from the falling debris / objects from the bulk    
                   handling tower cranes
                -  the damage from other ships / crafts
                - the damage from panicked actions of the distressed persons
  • I had to call the emergency stations to assess and respond to this unusual emergency.
I had seen the Tsunami catastrophes on the videos and many times wondered how to respond to an earthquake while on a ship but this was an experience that demonstrated how vast is the list of factors to face and a need for a profound command and technical skills base needed in responding to emergencies with a major change of normal working conditions to prevent injuries, pollution, damages and losses and the human morale in an emergency. 

Safe Sailings!


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