The high number of non-harmonized shipboard contingency plans justifies the development of an integrated system and the harmonization of the structure of contingency plans. A ship’s crew should not have confusion in respect of his duties and stations in case of an emergency. A general alarm may be sounded at past midnight hours. In such a situation if the crew knows: what to do; and where to go, the precious time would be saved. Optimum utilization of time in initial stages is key to success in shipboard emergencies.

Shipboard emergency preparedness is required under paragraphs and 8 of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code, as amended. The reference made to chapter IX of the SOLAS Convention, as amended and also regulation 24-4 under chapter III, of the SOLAS want this. MARPOL 73/78, Annex I, regulation 37 deals with the same subject. The requirements of the regulations must get transformed into action. The guidelines help in this by making use of the structure of the integrated system. They also integrate relevant shipboard emergency situations into such a system; and to assist in the development of harmonized contingency plans.

If the actions for the varying emergency situations were prepared on case-by-case consideration, lot of duplication would occur. This can be avoided. It is interesting to note that every contingency plan has:
set of “initial actions”; and
“subsequent response”.
Most initial actions will generally be similar. The changes would be due different emergency situation, the type of ship, cargo, etc.

INTEGRATED SYSTEM OF CONTINGENCY PLANS FOR SHIPBOARD EMERGENCIES (System) System Modules: A shipping company must ensure that there is a system (ISCPSE), which is devised under appropriate modules. The structure of the system comprises the following six modules:

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