In this electronic age, we find our electronic instruments are usually reliable but seamen, with experience, are keenly aware that if things can go wrong, they surely will: it is merely a matter of time. It is not a case of ‘may go wrong’: they ‘will go wrong’.

It only takes one big sea to smash the wheelhouse windows’ to flood an electric circuit and the main switchboard, sensing a fault, shuts down leaving the ship without propulsion or power. Whereas emergency generators may start up and battery power can take over emergency services, it is noticeable how bafflingly ineffective these systems can be. We have only to consider the experience of the first class modern cruise ship ‘CARNIVAL SPLENDOUR’ to be reminded of the frailty of these systems – even after only a relatively minor engine room fire.

So it is as well for the shipmaster to cast his eye around his ship and consider on which elements of his command he can depend when things start going wrong. Firstly, he must sift his crew’s characters and abilities and identify on which of these men he can depend. Some men will shrivel in the face of a crisis: others may panic but some will emerge calm and ready with instinctive reactions, not born of training but of intuition, to take the correct emergency procedures. Every crew has a few such individuals: it is as well to have identified and mentally assigned them to emergency duty before the crisis.

Full article, ELNAVI Magazine, Issue 451-452, Page. 60

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