Displaying items by tag: Safety
It comes after the skipper of a fishing vessel that sank late last year off the Isle of Man has attributed their rescue to the safety training the crew had undertaken previously and to their lifejackets, which were fitted with personal locator beacons (PLBs).
On the evening of 23 November last year, the fishing vessel Polaris suffered a catastrophic hull failure in the Irish Sea off the west coast of the Isle of Man.
The vessel sank so rapidly that the skipper only had time to send out a Mayday to the coastguard and other surrounding fishing boats before the vessel became submerged.
The coastguard immediately launched two RNLI lifeboats, from Port St Mary and Port Erin, and a rescue helicopter. However, it was a local fishing vessel, Lynn Marie, which arrived first on scene.
The skipper and a crew member from Polaris had been in the water for at least 15-20 minutes before help arrived.
The skipper of the Lynn Marie feared the worst on arriving at the scene as the Polaris had already gone below the water. The skipper stopped his engine to listen for the crew of the Polaris, which proved a wise decision as he heard two men in the water shouting. The Lynn Marie crew located them with a search light and recovered them from the water.
‘I can tell you that there is no doubt that the lifejackets saved our lives’
Commenting on the rescue, Horne said: “After speaking with Gordon Mills, the skipper of the Polaris, and the crew of Lynn Marie on their arrival at Peel, it was quite clear that this could have been a very different story had the crew of both vessels not acted so professionally.
“The crew had attended safety training and wore lifejackets fitted with personal locator beacons which had increased their chances of survival.”
Gordon Mills, skipper of Polaris, added: “At no time did I feel our lives were in danger due to our training and equipment.
“We had a policy of wearing lifejackets on the working deck since attending refresher training, where I was shown a film involving fishermen wearing their normal working clothes, being put through their paces in the RNLI Survival Centre Environmental Pool, both with and without lifejackets in cold water with wave movement whilst attempting to recover themselves.”
Mills added: “To see fishermen struggling in a controlled environment and only lasting a few minutes or in some cases a few seconds without the lifejacket makes you think about your own safety.
“I can tell you that there is no doubt that the lifejackets saved our lives. We wouldn’t have even been afloat for the crew of fishing vessel Lynn Marie to recover us from the water had we not been wearing them.
“I would encourage all fishermen to start wearing their lifejackets while on deck — you just never know when you might need it.”
With most boats either safely ashore or secured in safe mooring berthages, this is a month to prepare for the season ahead and one of those aspects, about which I feel particularly strongly is safety on the water. There is an obligation on all of us who enjoy watersports to exercise responsibility, to be able to look after ourselves and to ensure our crews do likewise. We also have a responsibility not to be the cause of unnecessary call-outs to the rescue services.
To underline these points, I have the story this week from a lifeboatman with 32 years’ experience at Youghal on the East Cork coastline.
During the 17th century, Youghal was one of Ireland's main ports, far more important than Cork Harbour, which was described officially then as “a port near Youghal.”
That historical record of the respective ports may have some association with the confusion of two-speed boat crew to whom navigation was an art they did not have the knowledge or the resources to understand when the Youghal lifeboatman came upon their confusion.
The story is told by John Innes who has retired after 32 years’ service with Youghal lifeboat. He was Helm of three Atlantic class lifeboats at Youghal - the Atlantic 21 Marjory Turner; the Atlantic 75 Patricia Jennings and the Youghal station’s current Atlantic 85 Gordon and Phil. He also served as Lifeboat Training Co-ordinator from 2001-2009 and again between 2016-2017. During his RNLI service, John was involved in saving 34 lives at sea.
Doing a bit of research about Youghal in preparing this week’s Podcast I discovered that nuns once made sure that the light was maintained on Youghal Lighthouse. It was a duty of the nunnery of the Chapel of St. Anne’s from 1202 until the Reformation in the 1530s when the nunnery had to be abandoned as was the light. Construction of the present lighthouse, designed by George Halpin, began in 1848 and it was brought into operation in 1852.
I also discovered that there was a climate incident described in the historical records as a "great convulsion of nature" in the province of Munster in the year 830, in which over a thousand people were killed in a “fierce storm.” One of the storm’s effects was to change the flow of the famous River Blackwater which flows through Youghal. This formed a new entrance to Youghal Harbour, the current one – which confused those two speedboat men!
#FastnetRace - With the days ticking down till the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race, Ocean Safety has published its free Fastnet Safety Checklist to ensure your yacht is ready for the rigours of the challenging seas around Fastnet Rock.
One of the most important items for the race for the race undoubtedly the liferaft, which will need a service before setting out from Cowes on Sunday, 6 August.
Ireland's CH Marine is a leading supplier of liferafts and services, hires and sells rafts. Both for leisure and commercial vessels.
#WaterSafety - The Irish Coast Guard has once again warned the public to stay back and say safe in coastal areas during severe weather after video emerged of a young child swept off their feet by a surprise wave.
Independet.ie has video of the recent incident in Portstewart on the North Coast, where a man and the child are filmed walking along the promenade as large waves lap over the edge at high tide.
That’s the main conclusion of the official report into the tragedy in Kenmare Bay in which local man Bill Topham died, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.
Topham had been canoeing to islands in Kenmare Bay with a friend for a duck shoot when their two-man vessel overturned in high winds on the afternoon of 31 January 2016.
The Marine Casualty Investigation Board report identified that neither passenger on the canoe was wearing a personal flotation device.
It also concluded that their decision to undertake their trip amid adverse weather conditions with a fully laden canoe, including two boisterous dogs, greatly increased the “inevitable element of natural risk” involved.
The full MCIB report into the incident is available to download below.
Many people will be engaging in outdoor activities along the coastline, be it on exposed coasts, cliffs, piers, harbour walls, beaches, promenades or other coastal areas.
And with the risk of stormy weather returning for Christmas Day tomorrow, after yesterday’s blustery conditions from Storm Barbara, the coastguard asks that anyone planning activities on or near the water to first check that it is safe to do so, and to be mindful of the risks and life threatening dangers that can arise without warning.
Christmas Day swims are a popular pursuit, and the coastguard is urging the public to only participate in organised swims where medical support and lifeguards are available.
Lone swimming should be avoided and all swimmers should be cognisant that time in the water should be kept to a minimum as even the most experienced of swimmers can easily succumb to cramp or cold water shock.
A general improvement in weather conditions is forecast from St Stephen’s Day — but spring tides that generate higher tides will peak in the latter part of the week and pose an additional risk.
The three Coast Guard Rescue Co-ordination Centres based in Malin, Valentia and Dublin, along with the coastguard helicopter service and volunteer units, will remain operational over the holiday period.
The Irish Coast Guard wishes to remind the public that if you see anybody in danger at sea, on the coast or on cliffs, call 112 and ask for the coastguard.
Anyone finding themselves involved in an emergency can use phone apps to help give their location to rescue personnel, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.
#Maritime - ‘Safe and sustainable’ marine transport and ‘delivery of emergency management services’ have been made a high level goal in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport’s Statement of Strategy 2016-2019, published this week.
Identifying Ireland’s maritime sector as “a critical gateway” for trade and tourism, the statement calls for “an efficient and effective competitive ports sector [that] can foster job creation” via trade, infrastructure developments and “opportunities in other areas such as offshore energy, cruise and marine leisure and recreation.”
Reduced ship emissions and safety at sea are also priorities within the Maritime Safety Strategy, which “includes a range of actions to be implemented or begun by 2019” such as flag state and port state regimes, and the IMO’s Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers.
Key services in this strategy include the delivery of a 24/7 marine emergency response and management service by co-ordinating the response to SAR incidents and pollution threats at sea.
Progress on these goals will be monitored by various indicators, such as the transfer of regional ports to local authority control by the end of 2018, the imposition of a new ‘ports performance’ measurement system by the end of 2017, the development of a web portal for SeaSafe Ireland by the middle of next year, as well as a minimum 90% availability of Irish Coast Guard units ahead of “full interoperability” of marine rescue co-ordination by next winter.
It may have to take another disaster of Titanic proportions before lifesaving provisions on board cruise ships are improved.
That might seem like a bit of hyperbole – an exaggerated statement or claim not meant to be taken literally, but it came from a maritime source which deserves respect – an international forum of professionals.
• Listen to the Podcast below.
NAUTILUS is the international trade union and professional organisation representing more than 22,000 maritime professionals in the UK, theNetherlands and Switzerland. Its International Professional and Technical Forum issued that warning after a meeting in Hull in England where facts that will surprise the public about cruise ship safety were revealed.
As cruise ships get bigger and bigger, with a 6,000 passenger capacity amongst the biggest, fears have been increasingly expressed about safety and evacuation procedures, which were heightened by the Costa Concordia disaster.
It is surprising to hear that every passenger is not guaranteed a seat in a lifeboat and that some passengers, because of their size, might not even fit in lifeboat seats. According to the NAUTILUS professionals, the SOLAS, safety of life at sea regulations, only require that there is lifeboat capacity for 37.5 per cent of passengers on each side of a cruise ship, providing that liferafts increase that capacity to 125 per cent, meaning apparently that not every passenger would be catered for in a lifeboat in an emergency.
And even if seats are available, the Forum was told that seats only allow for an average mass of 75 kilograms per person and a seat with of 16.9 inches which, the professional forum concluded, does not take into account increases in the average height and weight of passengers.
The general public will be surprised by these findings, the NAUTILUS professionals said. They have called for a lifeboat seat for every passenger onboard – and a guarantee that passengers will fit into them.
The professionals said that passengers may be surprised to learn that this is not already the case.
This US Coast Guard video shows the stricken sailor riding several waves before jumping head first over the railing of a rescue ship. The yachtsman's dramatic leap, with his cat, to safety from his disabled yacht was made some 400 miles south of Cold Bay, Alaska.
#safetyatsea – Last Thursday (April 16) the Department of Transport published its Maritime Safety Strategy, resulting from the "Sea Change" consultation last year. By chance this coincided exactly with our publication of the ICC's independent analysis of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board reports which form the background to the programme. Norman Kean has now reviewed the latest proposals.
The new Maritime Safety Strategy contains much sensible encouragement, and also 33 proposals for action by the Irish Maritime Administration, under five headings. These include:
• "Intensification of efforts to promote maritime safety awareness through a process of information and communication, and the promotion of more effective communication between key stakeholders"
• "An appropriate regulatory regime for the seaworthiness of vessels and craft and the competency of operators and/or crew"
• "Building on the current enforcement regime."
What does this mean for leisure sailors? Under the Information and Communication heading are some sensible proposals, such as widening the membership of the Marine Safety Working Group, organising an annual maritime safety conference to be open to the public, and addressing children and young people through the education system. This goes some way to recognizing the fact that the people most at risk are not connected to the established organization of sailing clubs and training systems. Lack of awareness is the biggest killer of all.
"Appropriate regulatory regime" translates into the intent to update the Code of Practice for Safe Operation of Recreational Craft, starting in 2016. It is to be hoped that this will be done in a proportionate and well-informed manner, and that the word "should" in respect of things like carriage of equipment does not too often morph into "must". Perish the thought that we might be required by law to submit our boats to annual Government inspection, that we should be compelled on pain of prosecution to report every single arrival and departure to Coast Guards or Harbourmasters, that we might be forced to transmit AIS signals all the time on pain of a fine. All those and many more have been suggested in submissions at the consultation stage of this process. This must not be the thin end of the wedge. Transmitting AIS is undoubtedly a good idea in busy waters, but the accident statistics don't support making it compulsory. We do not need, and we certainly do not want, a Big Brother regime, and the absence of any explicit proposals in that direction is to be welcomed.
Starting in 2017, jet skis and many small speedboats will have to be registered, as defined in the new Registration of Ships Bill, and it appears that the timeline for a new voluntary small craft register will start in 2018. This is far too late. The lack of such a facility for the next three years will leave many owners with no choice but to flag out to other EU states, to avoid facing voyage restrictions and having Irish yachts, at present abroad, put at risk of being impounded for lack of ship's papers.
But it begs the question, what does all that have to do with safety? Might the mention of registration here be a step in the direction of inspection - and ultimately taxation?
A new focus is proposed on more rigorous enforcement of existing legal requirements, with extension of on-the-spot fines for breaches of lifejacket laws quoted. That particular example is common sense and should be applauded by all responsible sailors. The great majority of recreational craft fatalities occur in small open boats and the majority of casualties are not wearing lifejackets when they should be. Conspicuous enforcement would get the attention of those most at risk. Last summer we came across a speedboat grossly overloaded with eleven people aboard; none of the five adults was wearing a lifejacket. If the skipper had been met on the pontoon by a couple of burly Guards who promptly relieved him of several hundred euro, the word might get round and the message might get through. But there must be no mission creep. I was once, at the helm, accosted by a Coast Guard crew who asked me, none too gently, where my lifejacket was, to which I replied that it was safely in its locker, that this vessel was 16 metres in length and perhaps they would care to read their own rules.
Under "Data and Evaluation" it is proposed to commission a baseline study of attitudes to maritime safety. The sailing clubs of Ireland need to be proactive in taking part in that. In respect of cruising sailors, the RNLI is currently doing exactly the same thing, and we must hope that the Maritime Administration takes the results of that study fully into account. Despite the rising trend in callouts to recreational craft, the RNLI continues to be firmly in favour of education over compulsion.