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Drills and Musters on all Fishing Vessels
Man Overboard Recovery Systems on Fishing Vessels

Marine Notice No. 40 of 2018
Notice to all Fishing Vessel Owners, Skippers and Fishers
This Marine Notice supersedes Marine Notice No. 44 of 1999

The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport wishes to highlight a report published by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board into the fatal incident involving FV Kerri Heather. The full report may be obtained from the website of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board MCIB/268.

The Department wishes to remind all concerned in the Fishing Industry of the existing requirements under the Merchant Shipping (Musters) (Fishing Vessels) Regulations 1993 S.I. No. 48 of 1993 and Merchant Shipping (Safety of fishing Vessels) (15-24 metres) Regulations 2007  S.I. No 640 of 2007. These regulations require the Skippers of Fishing Vessels to draw up muster lists for their vessels and exercise the crews of their vessels in the use of lifesaving appliances and fire fighting appliances carried on their vessels.  Existing requirements in relation to drills/musters for vessels under 15m are included in Chapter 8.9 of the Code of Practice for the Design, Construction, Equipment and Operation of Small Fishing Vessels of less than 15m.

The Skipper of every Fishing Vessel has overall responsibility for ensuring his/her crew know the location of the lifesaving and fire fighting equipment on the vessel and are instructed, trained and drilled in the use of such equipment.

Drills involving Lifesaving Appliances should ensure that all persons on board know:


·                                          Where the lifejackets are stowed and how to don a lifejacket correctly.  If lifejackets are kept in a box, cupboard, locker or beneath seats, etc. the outside of the space where lifejackets are kept, must be clearly labelled Lifejackets.

·                                          How to get a life raft over the side and to ensure the painter is made fast before launching.  Procedures for boarding the life raft must be clearly explained.  A clear space must  always  be  kept  on cluttered decks to ensure that  life rafts can be launched successfully.

·                                          How  to  launch  a  rescue  boat(s).  The  crew  should  be  clearly  designated  and exercised regularly in the launching of rescue boats.

·                                          How to use parachute flares. The crews attention should be drawn to the firing instructions which are printed on the sides of the flares. The place of stowage of the flares should be clearly marked.

·                                          When and how to use line throwing apparatus, when carried, and the precautions to be taken when using this equipment.

Drills involving Fire Fighting equipment should ensure that all  persons on board know:


·                                          The different types of fire-extinguishers on board, where they are situated, the types of fires they can be used on, and where the instruction for use can be found.

·                                          How to run out fire hoses, couple them up and use jet or spray nozzles.   There should always be enough fire hoses on board to stretch from the deck to engine room  or  accommodation.  Crews  should  also  know  how  to  start  and  run  the emergency fire pump, if fitted.

·                                          How to use breathing apparatus, where it is carried.

·                                          How to deal with the various kinds of fire which may occur.

·                                          How to  raise the alarm when a fire occurs rather than tackling it alone.

·                                          Stability considerations when using hoses, due to free surface effect from water used in large quantities.

·                                          How to release CO2, Gas or other fire suppression medium and the precautions to take before releasing of same.

In order to make any drill effective they should, over a period of time, cover all the various types of situation a vessel may be involved in.  Drills should include the following common emergency scenarios at least:

·                                          collision with another vessel, donning of lifejackets and abandonment;

·                                          collision with another vessel, donning of lifejacket and standing by to assist other vessel;

·                                          fire on board, followed by donning of lifejackets and abandonment;

·                                          engine room fire;

·                                          collision and fire followed by abandonment;

·                                          running aground on an unknown coastline;

·                                          engine breakdown and drifting onto a lee shore;

·                                          taking water on board and threat of sinking; and

·                                          man overboard exercise & recovery.

The muster list prepared by the Skipper should allocate specific safety functions relating to lifesaving appliances duties and their fire fighting duties to each person on board.  In order that these duties can be clearly understood by all concerned they will need to be exercised by way of realistic drills. The overall objective of drills is to breed familiarity with a vessel and

its safety equipment. On larger vessels of 16.5 metres and above drills must be held once every two weeks and on smaller vessels at least once a month.


The importance of safety drills cannot be over emphasised:

·                                          frequent drills train people to react in a co-ordinated manner when an emergency occurs;

·                                          crew become familiar with safety equipment and know instinctively where it is and how to use it; and

·                                          lives may be saved including your own.


Duration of drills:

The length of any drill will depend on the skill of the crew. If they know their vessel and its safety equipment it will be a routine matter of donning lifejackets and practising a different emergency scenario during each drill. On smaller vessels with limited equipment a drill should take no more than 10 minutes, on larger vessels with a lot of equipment no more than 15-20 minutes.

Overall, the amount of time dedicated to drills compared other activities is minuscule. In an emergency situation it can, however, make the difference between life and death.

Man Overboard Recovery Systems on Fishing Vessels

The Department wishes to remind operators of the recommendations made as follows:

·                                          That a man overboard recovery system be available on board.  It is a requirement for all fishing vessels to have a means of recovering a person from the water.  There are several different manufacturers which provide various types of apparatus for recovering a person from the water.

·                                          That all crew members are familiar with the operation of equipment that is carried on board for recovering a person from the water. For vessels greater than 15m in length, training in emergency procedures shall be carried out at intervals of not more than one month. This training shall be recorded in the logbook.

·                                          Owners of all vessels have a legal obligation to operate their vessels in accordance with  the  law,  and  must  makthemselves  aware  of  the  regulations  applicable. Owners and skippers should obtain and read the relevant Marine Notices available on the Departments website, In addition, the International Maritime Organization produces a booklet for purchase, which provides useful information, entitled Pocket Guide to Recovery Techniques.

Irish Maritime Administration,

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leeson Lane, Dublin, D02TR60, Ireland.



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