Surprising as it is, there’s really no definite rule on when to abandon a ship. It is a known fact for seafarers that getting on a survival craft would really depend on the situation and the captain. It’s not an immediate decision made during an emergency. Here are the reasons why:
The captain is the master of the ship, thus, he is the decision maker. When things don’t go as planned, he is tasked to lead everyone to safety. Aside from being the last to leave, he has to be mindful and think of the various possibilities in advance. He must take all necessary factors into consideration before pushing through with a decision to abandon ship as lives are at stake.
An example is the case of Costa Concordia in 2012. It was a famous incident where a cruise ship hit rocks due to its captain’s mistake. There were about 32 casualties in this incident where the captain failed to make a well thought decision and illegally abandoned the ship.
According to Edward Phillips, a principal lecturer in the department of law and criminology at the University of Greenwich, customary international law requires captains to operate under the principles of prudent seamanship, which means caring for the safety of crew and passengers.
Before going through with an abandon ship procedure, the situation of the ship must first and foremost be assessed. Why? Controllable situations like small fires that can be extinguished with one fire extinguisher does not necessitate abandonment of ship. In fact, leaving the ship behind is a seafarer’s last resort.
Conditions where seafarers really have to go through with it are when inextinguishable fire, unstoppable flooding, capsizing, and the like are present. Even then, the crew must be certain of the vessel’s instability before a captain can order to abandon ship.
Wondering why abandoning the ship is a last resort? Why should they make sure that the ship is unsavable? It’s simple. The reason for this is for the safety of the crew. Being onboard a ship makes it easier for rescuers to locate and find those who need are in need of aid. Add the fact that jumping onto a raft will work only on calm weather. Doing so on rough weather is risky business for those onboard. There have been cases where marooned ships were found floating after they were abandoned while those who boarded a survival craft were never found.
Emergency situations like these happen unexpectedly. Though it’s something one can’t predict, it is sure to be something one can prepare for. Seafaring companies have a duty to all of its stakeholders to make them feel secure by investing in a marine insurance in the Philippines’ leading non-life insurance company. Apart from ensuring their safety, this also assures the finances of the company. It also minimizes the risks of going out of business and insures against the perils of the sea.