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EMERGENCIES: GROUNDING

The following text prepared is keeping in mind, the resolution A.1072(28) adopted on 4 December 2013, ‘Revised guidelines for a structure of an integrated system of contingency planning for shipboard emergencies’. The following objectives are kept in mind:

  1. Identifying and following common action items to avoid confusion.
  2. Same teams are created to handle all the emergencies.
  3. Providing similar duties to crew members.
  4. None of the important duties are missed out.
  5. No time is lost in commencing the most apt action.

Emergency: Grounding

Signal: Continuous sounding of ship’s electrical bell or ship’s whistle for not less than 10 seconds. On the ship address, announce, ‘Vessel Aground’.

Sr. NoRankSpecific duties for grounding
 Bridge Team 
1MasterTransmit Urgency / Mayday as per situation providing name, call sign, position, if any suspected damage to hull, assistance needed. Buoyancy, strength and stability calculations. Advise shift of bunkers to smoothen stresses. Ballasting if required.  Monitor stresses. Damage stability software. Study the tidal behavior, nature of seabed. Drop anchor, using engines, etc
63rd OfficerAssist Master in communication and report making. Record keeping
161 H/manOn helm and assist as required.
 Attack Team 
2Ch OfficerAfter head count, brief the team members about specific duties. Assess damage based on soundings, depth around and nature of bottom.Do closer assessment with crew 3, 4 & 5, If pollution occurs follow SOPEP. Keep anchor ready for letting go.
9Fitter1Water tight doors, preparation of collision mat, plugging and cement box.
17Crew 3Soundings on deck. Assist chief Officer.
18Crew 4SCBA. Assist Chief Officer at site.
19Crew 5Assist Chief Officer at site.
22Salon 3Assist Chief Officer at site.
23Salon 4Assist Chief Officer at site.
 Engine Room Team 
3Ch EngineerBrief the specific duties after muster. In communication with Master and 2nd engineer. Monitor ME operations.
84th EngineerHead Count. & Assist Chief Engineer in E/R
14ER 1Assist Chief Engineer in E/R
15ER 2Assist Chief Engineer in E/R
 Technical Team 
42nd EngineerManeouvering in engine room.
73rd EngineerAssist 2nd Engineer
10Fitter 2Assist 2nd Engineer.
11ElectricianEmergency lights, batteries.
24ER 3Assist 2nd Engineer
 Support Team 
52nd OfficerHead count and report. Assist Chief officer
12Crew 1Assist 2nd officer
13Crew 2Assist 2nd officer
20Saloon 1Assist 2nd officer
21Saloon 2Assist 2nd  officer

[A] “Initial actions”
Officer on duty, upon noticing the grounding or in doubt, must immediately call Master. Emergency alarm is activated.  Engine room is informed about the situation. Head count is done at specified locations. Report is made to Bridge. Briefing of specific duties is made by team heads, considering the emergency. Report for transmission of distress / urgency is prepared. (standardized format is used). Report must include name call sign, position, damage to hull, assistance needed.  The initial report for ‘Emergency Response  Services’, is prepared and sent.

[B] Master’s Responsibilities

The Master is responsible for the organizing  emergency handling and for the availability and immediate use of the systems and equipment available but should delegate the various tasks to suitable qualified officers. Immediate and appropriate actions are very important. The engines are stopped. Sometimes upon a minor grounding on say sandy beach, the impact may not have caused a breach of hull and hence an immediate stern movement may be most appropriate, The changes in respect of sea suction must be made. Brief meeting with senior officers is conducted or the instructions conveyed by radio phone.

[C] Measures to be taken

All tanks and bilge spaces must be sounded. Depth must be determined all round the ship. Organized activities are introduced as necessary.  Analysis of situation is made. Comparison with last sounding is done to probe the breach of hull. Tide and tidal stream is monitored at position where the ship is aground. This is because the change of draft at point of contact (and nowhere else) is equal to rise or fall of tide. If the tide is rising and the hull is intact, vessel must act fast and get off the area at once. Lot of precious time may be wasted in panic, etc. Thus, if shortly after grounding a spring tide has to occur and the rising status of tide was not noticed, the ship may never be able to come out. Appropriate trimming measures also may be taken to support flotation. Record keeping  is ensured.

In case of the grounding off Sea Empress in Milford Haven the following was realized:

  1. The published data of tidal streams were incorrect.
  2. Half hearted attempts and due own movements caused more damage and so more leakage of oil. Thus, if water is not enough, the ship should might as well sit firmly on ground with more ballast.
  3. A few cms of tide was mightier than 11 ocean going tugs pulling the vessel.

It is for this reason that the tide and tidal stream behavior must be determined from the location by ship’s crew. A spring tide would occur after 1 or 2 days after the full or new moon. This can be determined by looking at the highest ranges around full or new moon.
Damage stability computer and Damage Control Plan kept handy. Relevant check list followed. Though the upthrust on hull at low waters is ‘change of hydrostatic draft x 100 TPC’.
But approximate thrust, particularly for flat bed or midship grounding can be estimated as ‘change of tide in cm x TPC’. Things like closing of water tight doors etc are important. Appropriate signals are displayed.

If the initial attempts do not work, tide is on the falling mode, or the indications are such that the vessel may remain aground to prolonged or uncertain period of time, the dropping of anchor may be considered. In prolonged grounding periods, this will:

  1. cause the bows seawards;
  2. prevent the vessel from drifting landwards; and
  3. help vessel pull on her anchor to refloat.

[D] Further actions

Assessment of stability, stresses, etc must be a continuous work while the vessel is aground. The stress on hull is continuously monitored.  More clear assessment is done for current situation. Ch off.  is assisted by crew 3, 4 & 5, saloon 3 & 4. He makes detailed assessment of damage. If pollution occurs SOPEP is followed. Properties of cargoes / substances carried is considered.  Damage to / risk to cargo; location and quantities of hazardous cargoes / substances, etc are considered.  ERS is updated with number of persons, dangerous goods onboard, etc.

[E] Consider Repairs
If there is a damage that can be approached from inside repairs may be considered. Attending to root cause, etc are considered. Blocking small holes, by making of cement box, etc is considered.

[F] Reporting
The incident and situation must be reported to the following in appropriate format, (data required is kept handy):

[G] Steps to initiate external response: The data required to facilitate the following is considered and kept ready:

[H] Check necessity of abandoning vessel
The overall assessment of ship regarding stability, buoyancy, damage and seaworthiness is made. Consideration about abandoning is carefully assessed.

[I] Non-conformity report
All non-conformities/deficiencies becoming known by the Master, officers and responsible crew members in connection with measures should be collected, recorded and sent to the company/designated person(s) or other, nominated person(s) as soon as possible.

[J] Restore normal ship routine/operation
A successful refloating is always possible but a detailed report of the entire period must be sent to the owners. The used equipment are made operational. The final report is sent to all concerned parties regarding updated status.

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