March 14, 2009
Once a week, the crew of the Palmer meets to discuss a topic in safety and scientists and staff are welcomed to attend. Today’s topic was hatch safety, talking about the large hatches that open up to lower levels of the ship. Opening a hatch is no easy feat – it often requires multiple people, and should have some form of mechanical help from a crane or winch. Also, since an open hatch is essentially a hole in the floor, all need to be marked off so no one inadvertently falls down them.
In addition to the weekly safety workshops, safety drills, including fire, abandon ship, and man overboard drills, are practiced at least once a week on the ship. Today we had an abandon ship drill, for which we went up to our muster station with our Gumby suits, floatation vests, and warm clothes. Stian, our MPC, did roll call, then we climbed into the two lifeboats.
The lifeboats on this ship are different from those seen in movies or on older craft. Lifeboats for offshore vessels are closed on top to provide protection from the elements (whether it is intense heat and sun or cold and snow) and so they can roll upside-down in the water. Everyone in the lifeboat wears waist belts and shoulder straps to hold themselves in their seats if the boat rolls. Strapping in prevents injuries during rolls and also keeps most of the weight distributed at the bottom of the lifeboats, helping them to roll right-side up again. The photo above shows one of the two lifeboats we have on the ship.