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Press Article: Time to put some real thrills into shipboard drills

12 July 2019

Too many shipboard safety drills have become meaningless reminders of procedure. Capt. Yves Vandenborn says good drills should reflect the roller-coaster ride of real-life emergencies.

The problem with many safety drills today is that nobody takes them seriously. This is mainly because the building fire drills and pre-flight safety briefings we regularly experience simply fail to convey the terrifying reality of a towering inferno or imminent crash landing.

The same can often be said for safety drills on ships. Crews regularly go through the motions of unwinding fire hoses or lowering lifeboats on quiet days at sea, but does this really prepare them for a cargo explosion in the middle of the night?

Worse still, many recorded safety drills never actually take place. Fake drill reports are commonplace, though fake entries can usually be spotted by their identical timings. There are also obstacles to certain drills, such as reluctance by crews and objections by ports to lowering lifeboats. Furthermore, drills for newer technology-related risks, such as loss or jamming of satellite positioning or failure of electronic chart display and information systems, are rarely undertaken.

How can we ensure seafarers are better prepared to deal with and respond effectively to maritime accidents and emergencies in the real world?

The full article is available to download via the link on the right, reproduced with kind permission.