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.
One of two closed-top lifeboats on the Nathaniel B. Palmer. Each
lifeboat can hold the complete capacity of the ship (70 people). Photo by Ron Kaufmann.
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.
— Amanda Kahn