Day of the Seafarer 2024

DATE 25.06.2024

Each year, on the 25th of June, we celebrate the Day of the Seafarer. The 2024 campaign is all about #SafetyTipsAtSea. We’ve asked our Seafarers what they do to keep the maritime sector a safer workplace.

Our top tips for safety at sea

Working onboard can be fun and exciting but also comes with many hazards and risks. This is why the IMO (International Maritime Organization) has international rules and regulations to ensure the safety of our seafarers.

Onboard, the Master is always responsible for general safety; however, each seafarer must also contribute to keeping himself, colleagues, and the vessel safe and sound. Therefore, seafarers must have adequate knowledge and skills to identify hazards and risks and mitigate or eliminate them before performing tasks onboard.

Although safety at sea has several factors, the following are our top tips every seafarer should know.

Training and Familiarization

Seafarers should have adequate knowledge and skills before taking over their responsibilities. They should know all the tasks related to their responsibilities, including the possible risks and hazards, to perform them efficiently and safely.

Follow Safety Procedures

Follow safety procedures for each task onboard to ensure that everything is in place and that all risks and hazards are mitigated or eliminated. Avoid shortcuts.

Risk Assessment

All risks and hazards must be identified and mitigated, either formal or informal, before doing their job. This can also be applied not only during work hours but also during leisure onboard.

Staying fit to work

Seafarers are responsible for being fit for work for their crewmates and the ship. They must be vigilant about their well-being and stay physically and mentally healthy. They should watch out for and avoid fatigue and stress to properly perform their duties.

Situational Awareness

Seafarers should be aware of their surroundings, especially when working. They should use all their senses to understand and analyze anything happening around them and act accordingly.

They should also immediately report any issues to safety, especially unsafe conditions and acts, to their officers or captains.

Situational Awareness

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The main purpose of PPE is to protect our seafarers from most forms of safety risks. Seafarers should always use suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) when necessary, which includes boiler suits, helmets, gloves, shoes, masks, earmuffs, harnesses, etc.

Maintenance of Safety Equipment

Ensure that safety equipment is well-maintained and ready for use. This will improve the chance of our seafarers successfully overcoming any emergency, keeping everyone safe.

Safety Drills and Training

Safety Drills and Training

To prepare our seafarers for any kind of emergency, they must participate actively in safety drills and training sessions. They should familiarize themselves with the location and operation of each firefighting and life-saving equipment such as lifeboats, life rafts, fire extinguishers, emergency alarms, etc.

To conclude, safety at sea should be prioritized for the well-being of our seafarers. These tips should help remind our seafarers to ensure their safety onboard and return home safe and sound once they finish their contracts.

How do we keep your workplace safe?

Aside from providing our seafarers with the essential training, knowledge, skills, tools and equipment, and the right attitude to promote a safety culture onboard, there are also other factors putting the safety of our seafarers at risk, including piracy and terrorist attacks on the vessels.

Presently, there have been a lot of attacks on the vessels in known high-risk areas. One of the most recent attacks that sunk the vessel was reported to have been done by Houthi rebels from Yemen in the Red Sea. The crew was able to abandon the vessel; however, one was still missing. This tragic incident caused a traumatic experience for the crew and their families and induced fear in all seafarers worldwide.

How can this kind of incident be prevented in the future? How can we keep the workplace of the seafarers safe with these challenges of piracy and terrorist attacks?

boat hjack

Here are four safety practices to combat and/or prevent piracy attack while maintaining a safe workplace from "Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy and Enhance Maritime Security in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea".

1. Planning ahead

Together with the following, the output of the risk assessment will help develop the ship’s voyage plan:

  • Review of threats and risk assessment based on the latest information available.
  • Review of SSA and SSP to check their effectiveness with the identified risks.
  • The voyage route plan should be laid-out in line with the recommended route by the company or Maritime Security Organizations.
  • Testing of position transmitting devices should be conducted prior to entry in the high-risk areas.
  • Manning requirements should also be reviewed and consider disembarking of the non-essential crew.
  • Lastly, crew training plan should be prepared.

2. Preparation prior to entry

  • The master should consider the following.
  • Obtain the latest threat information.
  • Check the latest NAVAREA warnings and alerts.
  • Implement security measures in accordance with the SSP.
  • Implement VRA/MSCHOA vessel registration and reporting requirements
  • Confirm propulsion can operate at full speed.
  • Implement security measures in accordance with the SSP.
  • Brief crew and conduct security drill.

The plan should be reviewed, and the crew should be briefed on their duties, including familiarity with the alarm that signals an attack, an all-clear situation and the appropriate response to each.

Most of the drills should test: 

  • Testing the security of access points.
  • Lockdown conditions, including crew safety considerations.
  • The bridge team’s security knowledge.
  • The crew’s understanding of any different actions required in the event of a pirate attack compared to other types of attack.
  • Masters are advised to prepare an emergency communication plan that includes all essential emergency contact numbers and prepared messages. The plan should be at hand or permanently displayed near all external communications stations, including the safe muster point and/or the citadel. Communication devices and the Ship Security Alert System (SSAS) should also be tested.
  • Define the ship’s Automatic Identification System (AIS) policy. It is recommended that AIS should remain switched on throughout passages through passages through the VRA and HRA, to ensure militaries can track the ship, but restrict data to ship’s identity, position, course, speed, navigational status and safety related information.
  • Reschedule planned maintenance on voyage critical equipment for transit of an HRA

3. Actions when entering the area

  • Submit ship reports as required.
  • Monitor the latest threat information.
  • Ensure all access points are limited and controlled.
  • Avoid drifting, waiting, anchoring and slow steaming, particularly in the MSTC.
  • Minimise the use of VHF and use email or a secure satellite telephone instead. Where possible, only answer known or legitimate callers on the VHF, bearing in mind that imposters are possible.

4. Ensure all measures are in place for crew safety

Crew's safety is of utmost importance. The Master should consider implementing the following:

  • Enhanced watchkeeping and vigilance. An effective lookout is the most effective method of ship protection. It can help identify a suspicious approach or attack early on, which allows defences to be deployed.
  • Master and officers should practice manoeuvring the ship to ensure familiarity with the ship’s handling characteristics. They should also practice avoidance manoeuvres while maintaining the best possible speed. Experience has shown that such action can defeat even a lengthy and determined attack as creation of hydrostatic pressure can have a better defensive impact than speed.
  • Activate the ship's alarm to inform the crew that an attack is underway and warn the attacker that the ship is aware and is reacting. In addition, the continuous sounding of the ship’s whistle may distract the attackers.
  • Physical barriers are intended to make it as difficult as possible for attackers to gain access to ships by increasing the difficulty of the climb for those trying to board illegally.
  • Use water spray and/or foam monitors in deterring or delaying any attempt to illegally board a ship. The use of water can make it difficult for an unauthorised boat to remain alongside and makes it significantly more difficult to climb aboard.
  • Control access routes to the accommodation and machinery spaces to deter or delay entry. Efforts must be directed at denying access to these spaces.
  • The company risk assessment and planning process should identify the location of a safe muster point and/or a citadel within a ship.

5. Keep all communications ON

Communication is an important aspect of tackling any emergency operation, especially in piracy-related situations. It is important that all the crew members keep an active communication throughout:

  • All personnel on duty to carry a radio.
  • VHF channel 16 (8) on the bridge and in safe room.
  • Identify the relevant contact information that should be available on the bridge. This could include: MTO Dubai Hotline, own company, MSC-HOA, CJTF-HOF, Rescue sources, other ships and naval ships nearby.
  • Test of all communication equipment.

The above points are some of the most important things that should be checked before the ship enters a piracy zone. However, the precautions to be taken should also include factors such as the type of ship, route, weather conditions, etc.

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