Abandoning a ship is a last resort and should only be done under the orders of the Master when all efforts to save the vessel have proven unsuccessful. Panic should be avoided, and the process should be carried out in a disciplined and organized manner. The following actions should be taken when required to abandon ship:

  1. Immediate Action:
    • Sound the general emergency signal and instruct all personnel to proceed to their lifeboat muster stations.
    • Initiate vessel shutdown procedures.
    • Send a «Mayday» signal with the vessel’s position on 2182 KHz and VHF channel 16 (156.8 MHz) and INMARSAT (where applicable)
  2. Secure Important Items:
    • Collect and secure ship log books and documents to be safely transferred to the lifeboats.
    • Ensure that the two on-board SART’s (Search and Rescue Transponders) and EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) are taken to the muster stations.
  3. Conduct Personnel Muster:
    • Perform a muster of personnel against the lifeboat checklist and report any missing personnel to the bridge.
  4. Abandon Ship Order:
    • Give the final order to embark all personnel into the lifeboats and abandon ship.
  5. Prepare Lifeboat:
    • Prepare the lifeboat and lower it to the embarkation position.
  6. Embark Lifeboat:
    • Vacate the bridge and board the lifeboat.
    • When ordered by the Master, embark the lifeboat.
  7. Move Away from the Vessel:
    • After the lifeboat is waterborne and everyone has embarked, move away from the vessel.

Before abandoning the ship, extra gear should be put into the lifeboat when time permits. This includes blankets, tinned food, biscuits, notebooks, pencils, extra torches, waterproof batteries & bulbs, palms and needles, ship’s pyrotechnics, extra water, extra fuel, boat charts, etc.

The Master and those controlling the fire should be the last to abandon the vessel. Before leaving the vessel, all machinery should be stopped, and watertight doors and hatches should be tightly closed.

When ordered to man the boats and life rafts, board davit-launched survival craft on the embarkation deck. If davit-launched survival craft are not available, use over-side ladders or lower yourself by means of a rope or fire hose. Avoid entering the water if possible.

The person in charge should ensure that all of the boat’s crew are present and seated with safety belts fastened before lowering. Safety belts in free-fall boats are essential to prevent occupants from being thrown when the boat strikes the water.

Lifeboats and life rafts should be lowered with as many people aboard as possible and then quickly cleared from the ship’s side to avoid a dangerous waiting period alongside the vessel. They should be secured together and towed clear of the wreck area by a motor lifeboat.

Survivors should stay together and support each other, staying connected by painters and evenly distributing occupants among the lifeboats and rafts. This will help maintain a uniform rate of drift and assist in early location by the rescue party.

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