Emergencies on board often fall into that ‘what if?’ category and on most yachts this is where they remain; however each yacht needs to be prepared for emergencies on board and with the increasing size and complexity of today’s yachts, the use of pre-prepared emergency checklists is becoming more common and more necessary than ever.

An example of a checklist for an engine room fire

For Geoff Moore, general manager – yacht management at Royale Oceanic, checklists are just one of the many requirements of ISM and it is imperative that crew fully understand their purpose and utilse them on board. “A checklist is not, or should not be, a company-produced document for the ‘office’ to check on what the yacht is doing. Its entire purpose is to act as an aide-memoire to the captain, officers and crew who are using them to ensure that nothing is forgotten and that all requirements are fulfilled. The ISM Code states that: ‘The Company should establish procedures, plans and instructions, including checklists as appropriate, for key shipboard operations concerning the safety of the personnel, shop and protection of the environment.’  This requirement should be met by a series of departmental procedures, checklists and flashcards being developed by the management company in conjunction with the yachts’ officers to ensure that the yacht is supplied with the documentation that is specific to its equipment and operational requirements,” he says. “These are to be reviewed regularly and should be adapted should any elements change, such as different equipment fitted, and at the very minimum all procedures should be reviewed annually.”

It is during emergency situations that pressure jumps to new heights and captains and crew suddenly have a plethora of questions running through their heads and a growing list of things that need to be done.

Checklists are common practice for many captains in routine operations, such as pre-arrival and departure procedures, however their use is really emphasised during an emergency situation on board. It is during emergency situations that pressure jumps to new heights and captains and crew suddenly have a plethora of questions running through their heads and a growing list of things that need to be done, whether this be because of a man overboard, an engine-room fire, a need to abandon shop or a collision with another vessel. As mentioned, these are all scenarios captains will hope they never experience, but it is imperative they are prepared should the scenario present itself.

In addition, in high-stress situations it is easy for captains to presume they will remember the various steps taken, however once the adrenaline is gone and the situation over, a captain’s memory of the high-pressure situation may be hazy. “Often these actions are carried out within a short time frame and so a procedure ensures nothing is forgotten,” concludes Moore, “and if more than one person is involved all parties are aware of who has completed which task and therefore who is accountable.”

The Crew Report has been working with a management company to produce sample checklists for a number of emergency scenarios, so captains can get a better understanding of the sort of items that should be included.

Please click on the below scenario to view the checklist:
•    Man overboard
•    Abandon ship
•    Collision
•    Engine-room fire
•    Accommodation fire

These are sample checklists that have not been approved by a regulatory body, but are examples of the sorts of items that may be included in an emergency checklist. We recommend that you contact your management company should you wish to produce an official yacht checklist.

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