Today I had the good fortune to hop onboard another one of the charter boats at Rowe’s Wharf to act as a deckhand for their M.O.B drill as part of their COI renewal. I always enjoy the chance to practice such a vital evolution with other crews and vessels, to see how they might do things differently, and possibly find a new trick or technique that may speed recovery times on board my own vessel.
In my opinion the greatest thing to stress with one of these drills (aside from keeping the Oscar in sight) is communication. Many passenger and commercial vessels suffer from poor wheelhouse visibility and this is where communication between the spotter, recovery personnel, and wheelhouse become essential. For instance the vessel I was on today had the swim platform as the recovery station, and there is nearly zero visibility out of the back of the wheelhouse, nevermind to the swim platform. It took myself calling direction and distance from the platform, and the stewardess relaying those directions to the captain. In my opinion having her standing right next to me with a hand-held would have been ideal, and on Odyssey that’s how we have to do things. Aboard Odyssey the M.O.B. recovery station is the starboard side cargo door, that is located about seven and a half feet off the water. A team with harness can clip in and lean out the door, and lower a life sling on a pulley attached to the top of the door frame, down to the victim. The whole time being in radio communication with the wheelhouse.
Another crucial point, that I really felt today, is for the recovery team to have some kind of harness or type V pfd allowing them to be attached to the vessel. I feel the need for this hard attachment for two reasons. One being that it is all to easy as the vessel is moving and you are leaning over to simply pull yourself into the water with the victim. With out some kind of harness or line attaching you to the boat, you will now have two victims in the water. Second is in the event that the victim is injured, or otherwise incapacitated, a crew member might need to enter the water and help them into a life sling or other such device. Again so you don’t have two victims in the water you want that person affixed to the boat in a secure manner.
Lastly practice is paramount; you want the whole evolution to be second-hand when the time comes. People don’t generally go over the side on a flat calm day, when the water is at its warmest and its noon. It’s in bad weather, when its blowing, raining, and dark that it happens. It’s at these times that you need to be at the top of your game to get those people back aboard safely and quickly.