Ships are a dangerous place to be, even in peace time or in port. When at sea there is no external fire or police department to call, the ships crew must do everything. During emergencies, to save the ship, every sailor about ship has a specific job to do.
Abandon Ship: Used when the ship is in such a condition that it may sink or it is an extreme danger to the crew, and the crew must leave the ship. It may only be ordered by the Commanding Officer. Word passed is "Prepare to abandon ship, nearest land is ___ degrees (magnetic), friendly/unfriendly(whether the local people are friend or foe), distance to land, temperature of the water, and deep or shallow water destruction instruction (in water less than 100 fathoms, important documents must be burned. In water greater than 100 fathoms, they may go down with the ship. " All headings are given in magnetic bearings so a compass can be used to navigate life rafts. When ordered, the crew will grab their life jackets and report to their abandon ship stations.
Man Overboard: Used when it is believed that a crew member may have fallen overboard. When called, all personnel will physically report to their divisions. Divisions will muster their assigned personnel and report the results to their departments. Departments will report the names of any unaccounted for personnel to the bridge. Bridge will call over the 1MC the names of the unaccounted for personnel and order them to report to the bridge. This process is used to identify who is unaccounted for and may be overboard.
Upon the call of “Man Overboard!” the OOD will immediately perform the prescribed ship maneuver to bring the ship back to its location when the man overboard was reported.
A DRT NC-2 (dead reckoning tracer) plotter is indispensable in a man overboard situation. When a man overboard is reported, a plotter must quickly mark the spot indicating the ship's present position, and change the DRT scale to 200 yards to the inch to keep a more precise track of the person overboard.. The ship's position must be determined where the person actually went over the side. A plotter then determines the bearing and range to the person every 15 to 30 seconds. The NC-2 plotting table utilizes five optical projectors for displaying own ship's and target symbols on the plotting surface. Own ship's position is located at the center of the polar diagram. During normal operations in the geographic plot mode, own ship's position (and, therefore, the polar diagram) move geographically across the plotting surface according to the DRT information supplied by the DRAI (dead reckoning analyzer-indicator).
Life jackets have a strobe light attached that blinks when in salt water. Spotters are posted to look for the person overboard. When the person overboard is spotted, a life ring/buoy is thrown as close to the person as possible and a smoke float is activated and thrown in the vicinity of the person.
Lookouts, under direct supervision of the OOD, are posted at stations on the fantail and sponsons to look specifically for the man overboard. At night, search lights may be used.
The person overboard may be recovered by small boat, the ship, or by air.
When the ship has slowed sufficiently to launch boat, the motor whaleboat will trek toward the target guided by signals, searchlight or radio. This is the most common method of recovery.
Under conditions of low visibility, when weather is too heavy for boat recovery, or when it is believed that a person fell overboard some time previously but was not seen or heard, it is desirable for the ship to turn so as to pass back down her track. This is achieved by the Williamson turn. The turn is started using full rudder (30 degrees). When the ships heading is about 60 degrees beyond the original course, the rudder is shifted and the ship is brought around to the reciprocal of her original course.
When the ship is turned about lines, swimmers and/or cargo nets are lowered when alongside the target.
A helicopter may be used to search wide area, or to provide immediate recovery ability. It is also useful in weather too heavy for motor whaleboats. A rescue swimmer will be deployed to assist in the air recovery.
Collision: A violent crash between two objects having a steady bearing and decreasing range. When a collision is expected, a call to “Rig For Collision (along with expected location of collision)” is called over the 1MC to alert the crew to prepare for a collision. When a collision is imminent, a call to “Brace For Collision (along with expected location of collision)” is called over the 1MC to alert the crew to take personal action to protect themselves for collision.
Fire: Occurs when a fire is reported to the bridge. “Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire in compartment (location)” is called over the 1MC, along with the repair locker responsible for that compartment.
Flooding: Occurs when flooding is reported to the bridge. “Flooding! Flooding! Flooding! Flooding in compartment (location)” is called over the 1MC, along with the repair locker responsible for that compartment.
Emergency Break Away: An accelerated standard breakaway during a conventional underway replenishment using an orderly and prearranged procedure. The objective is for the receiving ship to disengage quickly without damaging the rigs or endangering personnel. The commanding officer of either ship can order an emergency breakaway. The danger signal (5 short blasts) is sounded on the ship's whistle to warn other ships of the emergency action.
Hard Aground: A vessel lodged with its bottom aground that is unable to free itself without assistance.
Soft Aground: A vessel that is aground but that can free itself without outside assistance by shifting ballast and reversing the screws.