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LIFEBOAT DRILLS WITH NO LIFEJACKETS ?

David Molyneaux
The Sunday newspaper Travel Section often brings some different information.  Under the title 'CRUISING' was an article, quite a long article actually, by David Molyneaux of The Travel Mavens.  Somehow NAUTICAL LOG after over twenty years in cruise ships can just imagine The Travel Mavens crossing the gangway to arrive on board for a week or so.  This Post is about wearing lifejackets or maybe not wearing lifejackets at the compulsory passenger lifeboat drill required to be held at the beginning of each cruise.   Lets start at the beginning.  


Lifeboat drills are still held at the beginning of each cruise however many cruise lines do not require passengers to wear their lifejackets during this drill.  Why not?  The reason is actually quite reasonable it is due to the vast numbers of 'guests' now carried in these vessels as many as 5000 plus the crew to look after them.  It is therefore possible to have 7000+ persons onboard.  Those of you who have been crew or passengers in these vessels know only too well that after the drill numerous lifejackets can be found dumped on deck by lazy and careless passengers.  These must then be gathered up, by crewmembers of course, then returned according to their marked number to the correct cabin - all quite time consuming.


Mr. Molyneaux makes the point that the use of a lifejacket can be demonstrated to the passengers at each Lifeboat Station or Assembly Station, one would agree this is valid and effective if done by two crewmembers, one explaining the procedure and the other performing it.


Some of the smaller capacity cruise ships still follow the procedure of passengers putting on their lifejackets and assembling at the designated point.  One crewmember can then check the correct fitting of the lifejacket and make sure all the passengers understand both the assembly procedure and how to wear the lifejacket correctly.


In changing their procedure one major cruise line stated that because of the large numer of persons involved, some 6000, chaos could ensue and it could take up to an hour!!  This is indeed true and brings up the point, once again, of so many persons being in one ship should an emergency occur -  chaos would ensue.  As Mr. Molyneaux further says "the key is training the crew" which is why there are frequent drills daily for some if not all crewmembers together with a full drill at least once a week.


However it brings up the point, once again, where the 'hotel executive types' of the cruise lines are so panic stricten at the slightest possibility of a precious 'guest' being upset by something as mundane as 'safety drills' that they are willing to risk an event occuring.  It is a constant pressure which Safety Officers have to struggle against in every cruise line, on every cruise, every day.  Sometimes we Safety Officers actually win too!!


Good Watch.

Please remember our fellow seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia.

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