Section 6: Safety

EMERGENCY DRILLS - While we hope you never encounter an actual emergency at sea, it is important to be prepared for one. To this end the captain will conduct weekly fire and abandon-ship drills, the first of these drills taking place on the day of departure. Each drill is a serious occasion designed to promote an organized response to a wide variety of shipboard emergency scenarios. Participation in the drills, by all personnel, is mandatory. Weekly drills rarely take more than 15 minutes and are usually scheduled so as not to interfere with scientific operations. Personnel must study their bunk cards and the ship's station bill as soon as they report on board. These documents assign emergency duties and muster stations.

LIFE-SAVING EQUIPMENT - Life-saving equipment refers to the ship's gear which may be used when abandoning ship or rescuing someone who has fallen overboard. The ship carries four inflatable life rafts which are equipped to sustain life for a number of days when adrift. Each cabin is furnished with one life jacket (or personal flotation device) per occupant. Insulating exposure suits are carried and issued to cabins when operating in cold waters. Life rings are strategically deployed about the ship and may be equipped with a strobe light, a smoke signal, a hand line or a combination of these. The ship also carries three Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB's) for abandon-ship situations. More detailed information concerning the above equipment will be given during the captain's safety briefing and/or during the emergency drills.

MEDICAL MATTERS - New Horizon currently has Medical Advisory Services, (MAS) contracted to provide medical assistance via radio. New Horizon is equipped to handle most minor injuries and illness. Serious medical problems may lead to making an emergency port call to disembark the afflicted person. Ship's officers have some training in emergency first aid and most of the crew is current in CPR. When medical matters go beyond the ability of the crew, advice is obtained from a medical doctor via radio. All personnel are requested to report any injury or illness, no matter how seemingly minor or insignificant, to a bridge officer so that documentation exists in the event of complications. It is very important for all participants to fill out the pre-cruise medical questionnaires so that appropriate medical help can be rendered in the event of incapacitation.

SAFETY - Working aboard ship is much more difficult than on land, because of the unpredictability of the ship's motion. Safety precautions at sea have been developed through centuries of experience. By law the captain has the responsibility for safety of all personnel and the ship. Personnel are encouraged to be acutely aware of what is going on around them at all times. They are required to wear appropriate protective gear both in the labs and out on deck. The captain and/or mates will observe the proceedings and have the authority to stop any operation until suitable safety precautions have been taken. Many of the safety practices on board are backed by the force of UNOLS Safety Standards, the University of California, and State and Federal regulations. Anyone who spots a hazardous condition or situation should report it immediately to the person in charge and/or the bridge so that corrective action can be taken.

SHIP'S STABILITY - The U.S. Coast Guard charges the captain of the ship with the responsibility of maintaining the vessel in a stable condition at all times. Pursuant to this, the captain must make a number of calculations prior to and during each cruise to check the condition of the ship. For each ship, the Coast Guard has determined a minimum value relating to the stability of the ship for each condition of loading. This minimum value changes with the draft and trim of the ship and the height of the center of gravity above the keel. The captain must ensure that the value he computes at any given time is equal to or greater than the Coast Guard value. For many ships the difference between actual and required values is comfortably large. Unfortunately for New Horizon, this difference is usually quite small. This means that careful planning must take place whenever large scientific loads are carried and/or when trips are more than three weeks in length. Sometimes topside weights, such as unnecessary winches, must be removed to improve the stability margin. Ship users whose cruises will be 2-3 weeks or more in length and/or will load a great deal of weight on the ship should be prepared to provide Marine Facilities with a load plan. The load plan should include weights and sizes of all items and where they are to be loaded. The captain will then conduct stability calculations and work with scientific personnel to reorganize the load if necessary.

WATERTIGHT INTEGRITY -The ship is equipped with a variety of doors and hatches. The majority of these, in addition to isolating a compartment, are designed to prevent the spread of fire and flooding. Below the main deck the ship is longitudinally sub-divided into three compartments linked by hydraulically operated watertight doors (WTD's). In theory any one compartment can be completely flooded; as long as the remaining two compartments are intact, the ship will remain afloat. On the main deck WTD's prevent water from boarding seas from entering the interior spaces. These doors are generally heavy and awkward. Caution must be exercised when passing through hatches. Always ensure that doors are securely hooked open or securely shut behind you and dogged if appropriate. During periods of rough seas, accesses to the weather decks may be restricted or secured entirely.

WORKVESTS - A work-vest is a personal flotation device that is less bulky than a life jacket and allows greater freedom of movement. The ship carries a supply of these in the ocean lab for use on deck. Anyone participating in an operation where equipment is over the side shall be required to wear a work vest. Other safety items, such as hard hats and eye protection, are available and shall be worn when necessary.