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Abandoning the ship in the presence of toxic vapours

The Master may have to consider abandoning ship in the presence of toxic gas following, for example, a collision or fracture in the loading line. For this purpose, sufficient escape breathing apparatus of 15 minutes duration are supplied for all on board.

(a) At Sea

If, during cargo operations, the accommodation becomes filled with toxic vapours (e.g. Anhydrous Ammonia) such that it is impossible for personnel to remain therein, the Master may order the ship to be abandoned, or at least to move the ship's company upwind of the source.

In this case, the Emergency Party, wearing full breathing apparatus, is to prepare the most suitable lifeboats, and lower them to the embarkation level.

When instructed, personnel and supernumeraries inside the accommodation are to put on their escape breathing apparatus and man the lifeboats with the minimum of delay. The Officer on the brake is to board the lifeboat by way of the ladder when the boat is in the water. Some types of fully enclosed boats may be lowered from inside the boat.

The lifeboat is to be manoeuvred upwind, clear of the vapour before the engine is started. This restriction may not be necessary with enclosed lifeboats. This operation is to be undertaken by personnel wearing full breathing apparatus, with their own escape breathing apparatus as standby. Once the escape breathing apparatus has been put on, action must be swift and completed well within the 15 minutes duration of the sets.

This is a difficult operation and is only to be attempted if there are no alternatives. Whenever a suitable opportunity presents itself, the Master is to conduct exercises as outlined involving the whole ship's company.

(b) In Port

Circumstances may arise where the Master has to order the ship to be abandoned when the accommodation area is enveloped in a cloud of toxic vapour. In this case, the Emergency Party, wearing full breathing apparatus, will be responsible for indicating the route to be taken by personnel (wearing their escape breathing apparatus).

The crew must be drilled to take certain actions more or less automatically. However, nobody must act without considering the superfluous consequences. These plans should be used actively during emergency drills.

Immediate Evacuation – By Own Survival Craft

i) Send distress message
ii) Prepare abandonment – activate alarm and muster according to muster plan. Select a survival craft, embark equipment.
iii) Search for missing persons
iv) Alert vessels in the vicinity
v) Bring Portable Radio and extra walkie-talkie to survival craft.
vi) Activate EPIRB; bring it to lifeboat if not already onboard.
vii) Collect survival suits / thermal bags; distribute.
viii) Collect medical equipment from hospital
ix) Collect ship’s logbook, documents
x) Collect extra blankets, warm clothing, extra drink water, extra pyrotechnical equipment
xi) Consider - partial abandonment
xii) Embark and lower survival craft

Evacuation Pending

i) Send distress message
ii) Prepare abandonment
iii) Search for missing persons
iv) Alert vessels in the vicinity
v) Manoeuvre vessel to facilitate abandonment
vi) Prepare to bring ship’s documents
vii) Consider - the use of oil bag
viii) Consider - awaiting improved conditions
ix) Consider - partial abandonment
x) Re-consider abandonment do not leave the vessel until it is in a position of peril. Your ship is your best lifeboat.

Abandonment – By Helicopter

i) If advisable, arrange rescue helicopter by radio
ii) Check distance, action radius normally 230 nautical miles
iii) Remember the limited capacity: about 7 persons
iv) Consider - partial abandonment
v) Allocate tasks to the crew related to rescue by helicopter
vi) Establish communication with helicopter on a telephony emergency frequency
vii) Remember the helicopter cannot operate near smoke or flames
viii) The helicopter is not suitable for standing by or escorting due to limited action radius

Abandonment – By Other Craft

i) Prepare line throwing apparatus
ii) Establish radio contact with rescue boat
iii) Transfer personnel by means of a raft or a lifeboat

After Recovery

i) Cancel your distress messages
ii) Inform your earlier contacts
iii) Consult CMSI, Owners

Related Information:

  1. Collision accident - Emergency procedure for Liquefied Gas carriers

  2. Encountering High Winds and/or Waves - countermeasures

  3. Emergency Procedures for rescue - a guide to salvage operation

  4. Assist Vessel in Distress/Towing of Vessel in Distress

External links :

  1. International maritime organization

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