by Nash Mahoney

Over the past week, the Oliver Hazard Perry professional crew and trainees from Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy have been participating in rigorous safety training. This training is aimed at making sure all crew members know specific procedures for several kinds of emergencies and are prepared for all the potentially-dangerous tasks that must be done aboard. Everyone on the crew is given a position on the Station Bill, a document that shows each person's responsibility during three emergency situations: fire, man overboard, and abandon ship. Our training also covered medical emergencies, line-handling safety, aloft safety, and engine room procedures.

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Throwing the new trainees into the thick of it along with the professional crew, we ran through multiple fire scenarios. No matter their position on the station bill, everyone on board needs to know what to do in all spaces on the ship, since in an emergency, order can break down quickly. So, we walked through every single space, no small feat aboard a 200 foot ship, listing what could cause a fire, where the exits and ventilation are, where the nearest fire station and fire extinguishers live, and which other spaces are in direct contact. We also conducted drills so that everyone could practice their specific responsibilities, whether it be running out the fire hoses, donning turnout gear, or putting on a climbing harness in case sails need to be taken in. Continuing the cross-department training, all crew have been introduced to the fire pumps and bilge dewatering systems in the engine room.

Everyone onboard has also demonstrated familiarity with lowering and raising the ship’s fast rescue boat in case of a man overboard. It’s an involved process, so we practiced several times. 

The last station bill emergency is an abandon ship. OHP is equipped with many pieces of emergency equipment, and the names, locations, and purpose of each was reviewed and demonstrated. In addition, crew practiced donning immersion suits and life vests, crucial equipment in the case of abandoning ship.

An exciting part of the training, and new to OHP, came from a partnership between RI Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT).  DMAT supplies extensive medical equipment to assist in monitoring and maintaining our hospital-grade medical inventory and helping to review and re-stock that inventory every year. DMAT’s Chief Operations Officer came aboard to provide an extra training related to acute injury response for the crew and trainees.

The last bit of standard training regards the sailing of the vessel. A line handling safety workshop to instill proper technique for belaying, hauling, and easing the more than 100 lines that form the running rigging, as well as “up and overs” where trainees and new crew don harnesses and climb the rigging to the fighting top, getting comfortable with the heights, movements, and use of the climbing equipment.

These skills will continue to be reinforced and reviewed while underway through frequent emergency drills, making our ship safer, and our crew more competent and qualified mariners.

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