Man-Overboard Procedures:

Immediate Actions:

  • The person who sees or suspects that someone has fallen overboard should immediately raise the alarm on the ship. The emergency signal is sent out, and appropriate authorities are notified.
  • The ship should be maneuvered in a manner so as not to lose sight of the person overboard and ensure their safety.
  • Three blasts are sounded on the ship’s whistle, and a vertically fired flare is launched to indicate a man-overboard situation.
  • The coordinates of the person fallen overboard should be noted, and appropriate safety gear, such as a lifebuoy, should be thrown towards the person, taking care not to hit them directly. A smoke signal should also be activated and thrown into the sea near the person.

Rescue Operation:

  • Once the ship reaches the position near the person overboard, it sounds two long whistles to indicate the start of the rescue operation.
  • The manner of rescue depends on the type of ship and available safety gear. If there is a man-overboard boat, it should be launched to rescue the person. In some ships, the lifeboat may serve as the man-overboard boat.
  • Once the person is rescued and brought onboard, proper medical attention is required.


  • It is crucial for the ship’s crew to be fully prepared for such emergencies. Regular man-overboard drills are essential to ensure that the crew is familiar with the procedures and can respond effectively in case of an actual man-overboard situation.

Additional Points:

  • The navigating officer should release bridge man-overboard markers and activate the MOB command on electronic equipment like GPS or ECDIS to aid in returning accurately to the same spot.
  • Note the time and position of the man overboard.
  • Sound the general emergency alarm both internally and externally to alert all crew members and passengers.
  • Announce “Man overboard” and indicate the side from where the person fell overboard on the ship’s public address system.
  • Commence the Williamson turn or the shortest turn towards the side where the person has fallen overboard, taking into consideration the prevailing traffic and weather conditions.

Remember that man-overboard situations require immediate and organized actions to maximize the chances of rescuing the person in distress. Proper preparation through regular drills and adherence to established procedures are crucial to ensure the safety and well-being of all onboard.

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