Emergencies on Ships – 1
In 2009 the star veteran US Airways pilot Chesley Sullenberger safely crash landed his plane on the Hudson river in New York and saved all his crew and passengers in spite losing both his engines due to a mid-air birds-collision. There may also be many unsung heroes such as these, I can’t write about emergencies without thinking of their brilliant emergency responses either at sea, mid air, in remote locations or in daily lives.
An emergency on board a ship is a serious matter because of the physical remoteness of the ships and limitations of the available resources. Emergencies are a constant part of life at sea. They may be caused by the factors from within or the factors from outside or a combination of the both.
Ships & the sailors have sailed the oceans & the seas for centuries and developed ways of dealing with the emergencies – either through successes or failures. There is always something new to add to this field every day. The basics though remain unchanged – the common ingredients being the location, the human factors, the non-human factors, the material quality and coming together of all these to make up or prevent an emergency.
Normal assumption is that an emergency is always an unexpected occurrence but it is not so. Though one may not wish to have an emergency, it can be anticipated in many cases by those who monitor and interpret the ship’s conditions accurately.
An emergency causes an out of control change of the situation on smaller to larger scales as well as short term to long term levels. Normally an emergency if not responded to at once and correctly in that - then it can almost always worsen the situation.
At sea the emergency preparedness, emergency leadership, emergency response, restoration to normalcy after an emergency needs special skills and talents. How these are sharpened by regular exercises determines the outcome of an emergency situation.
We have heard many cases of the ship Captains’ & officers’ heroism in the past but these days there are also many stories of the neglect reported in the media – so it’s time to take a stock!