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 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.