Tag Archive for: Marine Incident

Following on from Bomb Threat is to look at a procedure for when you find a suspicious object, and I don’t mean a drunken passenger slouched in the corner.

What is a suspicious object?

A suspicious object is defined as any item (e.g., package, bag, etc.) identified as potentially containing explosives, an IED or other hazardous material that requires bomb technician diagnostic skills and specialised equipment for further evaluation.

Suspicious object indicators

Suspicious indicators are based upon the prevailing and/or communicated threat, placement and proximity of the item to people and valuable assets. More tangible aspects include but are not limited to:

  • Unexplainable wires or electronics
  • Other visible bomb-like components
  • Unusual sounds
  • Vapours
  • Mists
  • Odours

What to do if you find a suspicious object!

If you find, or have reported to you that there is a suspicious object onboard or in your office, factory or other area follow the steps outlined below.

  1. DO NOT touch, move, cover or tamper with the object
  2. Report the object to the Master immediately
  3. Report the object to Police by calling 000
  4. Conspicuously mark the location
  5. Ensure there are no other suspicious objects in the vicinity
  6. Evacuate the immediate area
  7. DO NOT use mobile phones or radio communications within 30 metres of the object
  8. Be prepared to abandon ship if instructed to do so by emergency personnel

Shorlink’s Recommendation

If you carry passengers or cargo we recommend developing a procedure for what to do if a suspicious object is located onboard your vessel or in your premises.

This procedure should link in with your bomb threat procedure and be based on whether you carry passengers, cargo or both.


Consider your exposure level to the public and where you operate. Do you carry large numbers of passengers, cargo or both?

If yes then our tip is to not only have procedures for a Bomb Threat and Suspicious Object Located but also to develop a Counter Terrorism Plan.


Log Books   

What to do in an emergency, including finding Suspicious Object should always be recorded and yourselves and your crew should know exactly what to do.

Record all of your Emergency Preparedness Training (drills) in our Crew Training Log Book which also saves having to fill out forms in your SMS!

You can order online today with free postage – Click Here!

Over the last few months there was a significant number of marine incidents reported and I’m guessing a few that weren’t reported!

It’s interesting to note that during this period there were a number of incidents reported involving Class 4 (H&D) vessels.

Let’s look at a few incidents by class…

Class 4

  • While taking down the sails the jib fell overboard and took down the mast losing the mast and rigging overboard
  • Yacht ran aground
  • Vessel capsized

Class 3

  • A fisherman who was working solo fell overboard and drowned.
  • Fishing vessel struck a submerged reef with a potential risk of pollution
  • Fishing vessel started taking on water and sank
  • Crew member bitten by a sea snake

Class 2

  • Non-passenger vessel collided with a recreational vessel
  • Non-passenger vessel collided with a moored tug and barge
  • Non-passenger vessel capsized in a large swell
  • A crew member was crushed between a pile and the punt’s motor and protection frame then fell overboard suffering serious injury.

Class 1

  • A vessel grounded in mud and rocks attempting to avoid a collision with another vessel
  • A fire and smoke occurred due to wiring connectors

What do many of these incidents have in common?

I asked a number of people that question and most replied many were just unavoidable accidents but…were they?

Without having all of the details we could say that being involved in a collision, running aground and capsizing may have more to do with failing to keep an adequate lookout than just being an unavoidable accident.

The safety and wellbeing of you and your crew relies on the watchkeeper maintaining an adequate lookout. An adequate lookout means knowing what’s around you at all times!

During recent Operational Audits we’ve undertaken more than one Master settled themselves in the helm seat and only got out when in need of a coffee or toilet break.

Is that appropriate? I don’t think so! Some said, “I have all the electronics to ensure I know what’s around me and the depth of water under the keel so why bother getting out of my seat?”

My response to that is if you have steelwork behind the radar you have a shadow or interference that may hide a vessel behind you and how well does radar pick up a yacht without a radar reflector?

As I said, your safety and the safety of all persons onboard and the vessel is in your hands when on watch!

While we all try to avoid fires onboard sometimes they do happen so ensuring your firefighting appliances and equipment are all in good working order is a valuable safety measure.

Flooding can be caused by many reasons including a breach in the hull, unsecured hatches/doors, broken or fractured water pipes, deck hoses dropped and falling into an open hatch and many other reasons.

Regular inspections and maintenance are the key to preventing flooding situations as is ensuring all hatches and sea doors are kept closed and secured.

Crushing incidents are almost always preventable if you follow the appropriate procedures and ensure the right safety equipment is available. Another issue I’ve noted on many occasions is that the work vessel is not adequately secured to the other vessel or structure.

This has the potential to allow unnecessary movement or space between the other vessel or structure which in turn provides an unsafe workplace. While, at times this may be necessary the following of safe work procedures is critical to your safety!

Interaction with sea snakes is inevitable when working on fishing vessels but ensuring you have current knowledge of how to deal with them and snake bite bandages you’re well on the way to saving a life. I’m pleased to say that the snake bite victim survived due largely to their First Aid training and the onboard crew training we deliver.

Working solo can be as dangerous as it gets so it’s imperative that if you do work solo you have appropriate safety measures in place. These may be wearing a PFD or harness or other measures but…you do need them for your own safety!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our top recommendations are…

  1. Ensure a proper lookout is maintained at all times when underway and at anchor; and
  2. Install a Watch Guard or use your mobile phone’s timer if you don’t have a watch guard;
  3. Ensure regular inspections are undertaken of the hull, machinery and equipment;
  4. Ensure all hatches and sea doors are kept closed when at sea; and
  5. Remain aware at all times


Our number one tip is to make sure your SMS is up to date and has all the relevant procedures for both operations and emergencies and…

…all the crew are inducted into the SMS and all procedures!

A safety alert was issued after an incident in which a pressurised fire extinguisher was ruptured and travelled through the air for 300 metres!

Although this happened on a demolition site it could easily happen when undertaking refits or repairs onboard your vessel or workplace.

A machinery operator was using a hydraulic shear attachment to cut fire suppression pipes into sections by pulling lengths from the pile, cutting them and placing the cut sections to one side.

The operator did not see the pressurised fire extinguisher and cut it in half. The bottom section of the extinguisher travelled through the air and crashed through the roof of a warehouse approximately 300 metres away.

It landed in a laydown areas that was not being used at the time and no-one was hurt, thankfully!

While this may sound a bit amusing the reality is that someone could have been seriously injured or even died as a result.

This not only applies to fire extinguishers, but it also applies to all pressurised vessels. All pressurised vessels should be treated with care as they all present potential dangers. Below is a burst air compressor tank and a propane tank which exploded.

Both of these could have resulted in major injuries not to mention loss of lives.

When undertaking a re-fit workers are often subject to tight timeframes and can easily overlook a fire extinguisher or other pressurised vessel on the other side of a bulkhead they are cutting or drilling through. The same goes for factories and other workplaces.

Remember, it’s not just cutting a pressurised vessel that can rupture them they can be ruptured by drilling, items falling on them or any number of other causes.

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Top of the list for recommendations is to take the time to ensure there are no pressurised vessels that may be impacted by the work you’re undertaking.

Check on the other side of bulkheads and decks to make sure all is clear, not only of pressurised vessels but other potential hazards. Here’s a quick check list:

  1. Ensure there is a system in place to ensure no pressurised vessels are in areas where they may be ruptured
  2. Where they are present, remove them to a safer location out of the way
  3. Ensure all workers are trained to recognise pressurised vessels and the requirements to move them out of the way
  4. Ensure workers are aware of the consequences if pressurised vessels are ruptured
  5. Ensure all other potential hazards are identified and dealt with


You don’t want to be responsible for injuries to yourself or others. Worse still you don’t need to be the cause of lives being lost, one of which could be yours!

My best tip is to make sure no pressurised vessels or other potential hazards are removed prior to starting work.

So often owners, operators and/or crew members ask, “is this a marine incident and do I have to report it?”

How do you identify if it’s a marine incident?

Marine incidents are identified by relevant Australian laws and include a number of different types of incidents and may include the following:

  • Death of, or injury to, a person associated with the operation or navigation of a vessel
  • The loss or presumed loss of a vessel
  • Collision of a vessel with another vessel
  • Collision by a vessel with an object
  • The grounding, sinking, flooding or capsizing of a vessel
  • Fire on board a vessel
  • Loss of stability of a vessel that affects the safety of the vessel
  • The structural failure of a vessel
  • A close quarters situation
  • A dangerous occurrence, which is an occurrence that could have caused the death of, or serious personal injury to, any person on the vessel

They can also include:

  • An event that results in, or could have resulted in:
    • the death of, or injury to, a person on board a vessel
    • the loss of a person from a vessel
    • a vessel becoming disabled and requiring assistance
  • The fouling or damaging by a vessel of:
    • any pipeline or submarine cable
    • any aid to navigation
  • Other incidents that are prescribed by the regulations include but are not limited to:
    • failure in operation of a component of material handling equipment, whether or not a person is injured because of the failure
    • loss of cargo of a vessel
    • significant damage to a vessel
    • a seafarer is injured or contracts an illness that incapacitates them from the performance of their duty
  • Any serious danger to navigation on or near the course of the vessel.

How to report a marine incident

There are 2 steps in reporting incidents which are:

  1. As soon as reasonably practicable after becoming aware of the incident you must either:
  • Complete an incident alert form 18 and submit it to AMSA online. This is for Domestic Commercial Vessels (DCV) only; or
  • Download form 19 and email the completed form to reports@amsa.gov.au
  • Note that for Regulated Australian Vessels must submit an incident alert within 4 hours.

Get this form at…


  1. Within 72 hours after becoming aware of the incident you must:
  • Complete the incident report form 19 and submit it to AMSA online; or
  • Download form 19 and email the completed form to reports@amsa.gov.au

Get this form by at…


What are your reporting obligations?

Reporting obligations are imposed by Australian laws. Other mandatory reporting requirements include requirements to report dangers to navigation and certain incidents involving people on board.

The owner or Master of a DCV must report marine incidents to AMSA. This is detailed in Sections 88 and 89 of the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012, Schedule 1 (National Law)

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We can not recommend strongly enough that you report applicable marine incidents inline with the above requirements and, do it on time! If you’re not sure about if it’s an incident or whether you should report it then contact us for advice.


 While it may seem like a waste of time you must record the details of the incident in your log book as this not only a legal requirement but ensures you have accurate information when filling in incident reports. Don’t try to remember the facts a day or so later, make sure you use your log book.

Need a log book? – click here to purchase with free postage direct from Shorlink!


In-water survival

Having to survive in the water after your vessels sinks or through a person overboard situation can be a terrifying ordeal and one that I hope you or your crew don’t have to go through!

The question is…

…if you found yourself in that situation could you survive?

The sad fact is that most people don’t really consider it until it’s too late. On commercial vessels it’s a requirement to undertake drills to ensure all crew have the knowledge and skills to deal with emergencies.

Over the last few months I’ve been delivering onboard safety training to crews around Australia, which has highlighted a serious lack of knowledge and complacency was highlighted yet again.

Having said that lets look at survival techniques.

Here’s a few points to consider first…

  1. Does anyone know you’re in the water?
  2. Are you alone or are there others?
  3. Are you injured or is anyone with you injured?
  4. Do you have a lifejacket on?
  5. Is there an inflatable life raft?
  6. Where are you?
  7. What are you wearing?
  8. What are the conditions?

These are some of the major factors influencing how you survive. If nobody knows you’re in the water then that’s a major problem to start with.

Injuries represent another issue depending on the nature of the injury while not having a lifejacket on puts you in a serious survival situation.

Where you are, what you’re wearing and the prevailing conditions all represent major problems in surviving!

If you’re 50nm offshore and find yourself in the water with no lifejacket or anything else to support you in the water and nobody knows then you’re in a heap of trouble. Survival in this situation is not impossible but to be honest chances are limited.

If you’re undertaking a solo voyage then I strongly recommend wearing a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) that’s GPS activated. This is probably your best chance of survival but the information following may also apply in the above scenario.

Your alone in the water with a lifejacket on, not nice but better than being without one! So…how do you enhance your survival rate?

Hypothermia is a major issue no matter where you are. Even during the last few months delivering training too many crew members thought that hypothermia didn’t happen in the tropics.

If you’re alone in the water you need to use the Heat Escape Lessing Position (HELP) minimise the amount of heat loss from your body.

The HELP position is achieved by crossing your arms tightly against your chest then drawing your knees up and against your chest and keeping your head and face out of the water.

If there’s more than one person then you use the huddle technique. This is where you all huddle together in a group to reduce the heat loss of all persons.

By huddling together you make it easier for rescuers to see you in the water. A group huddling together with lifejackets on is much easier to spot than you alone.

Learn more about in-water survival in the next issue.

This is a topic I cover in my onboard training session along with how to safely and efficiently handle other emergency situations.

If you’d like to know more about these valuable onboard training sessions contact me by email sms@shorlink.com or call my office on 07 4242 1412

The above is only a guide and there are many other steps that can save your life but…

…there are many dangers involved that can impact on your ability to survive!

If you would like more information on this subject or to book a training session don’t hesitate to contact me because…it’s your safety and the safety of your crew!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

If you haven’t trained your crew in basic in-water survival techniques I strongly recommend doing so now before the event. If you expect you or your crew to survive in-water then you need to give everyone, including yourself the best chance of survival by getting the right training.

It’s not only good sense it’s also a requirement for owners and Masters to ensure all crew are inducted, trained and drills undertaken to ensure the safety of all persons onboard.


Crew training saves lives, one of which may be yours so don’t let complacency be the cause of injuries or loss of life. My best tip is to make a start to change the culture onboard your vessel sooner rather than latter!

Crew Training Log Book Log Book requirements.

We all know log books are required and we can supply a number of generic formats including a Crew Training Log book which ensures you record all the information required by AMSA.


More on surviving at sea!

Last week we gave you an introduction to surviving at sea and this week we’ll expand on that with more tips on survival for you and your crew.

  HUDDLE and HELP positions

Previously we mentioned the HUDDLE and HELP survival positions which can be instrumental in saving your life if you don’t have a life raft.


Heat escape lessening position or HELP for short

When you are alone in the water, this position protects the body’s three major areas of heat loss (groin, head/neck, and rib cage/armpits).

Wearing a PFD allows you to draw your knees to your chest and your arms to your sides. Huddling with other people in the water lessens the loss of body heat and is good for morale

Even if you do have a life raft there’s a lot more to surviving! Let’s consider you were able to launch the life raft and managed to get everyone onboard, what next?

The very first thing you need to do is ensure everybody is accounted for then check for injuries. Once you’ve dealt with the injuries the next step is critical to everyone’s survival because it’s one of the biggest dangers you’ll face.

Panic is the one thing that’s hard to control because suddenly finding yourself in the water miles from anywhere and stuck in a life raft is a traumatic experience.

It’s critical for all that you get everyone calmed down, easy to say: not so easy to do but it’s a major first step to surviving.

One of the keys is to get everyone organised in the raft so that they are not all over the place then get everyone to take a few slow deep breaths. This helps calm them down.

Now it’s time to get to work by ensuring the EPIRB has been activated, bailing out the raft then start scheduling lookouts. I prefer short periods as a lookout to keep all focused on something other than the situation.

It’s also time to consider rationing of food and water taking into account where you are and the potential for rescue. My thing is no food or water for the first 24 hours then only small sips of water rather than gulping it down. Same approach for food as well.

If you’re way offshore rescue may be somewhat longer than being close inshore but if you’ve activated your EPIRB be assured that rescue is on its way.

Just a little thing that many people forget or are not aware of is that life rafts can have a tendency to spin or rotate. This is guaranteed to make the hardest seaman sick.

  Life rafts come equipped with a drogue or sea anchor and it’s a simple matter of deploying it ASAP to minimise the rotation of the raft. It also slows down the rate of drift and keeps it in the best position relative to the sea condition.

A key fact is that NO flares should be set off unless there is someone to see them! Far too often people panic and let off one flare after the other. The result is that when a vessel comes along there are no flares left: big problem!

What else can you use to attract attention? Your life raft should be equipped with:

  • Flares
  • Heliograph (mirror)
  • V Sheet

A heliograph is a great device for attracting attention during daylight hours by aiming it at the wheelhouse of a passing vessel. To a lesser degree you can use it by directing torch light onto it then aiming it at a close by vessel during darkness.

The V Sheet, so many people think of its use as like a flag which may be of use for passing vessels but for a passing aircraft use this way makes it very hard to see.

The best way to use a V Sheet when search and rescue aircraft are out looking for you is to lay it flat on the water. This makes a large, easy to see orange identifier.

If you happen to find yourself in the water without a life raft but have a V Sheet use it like described above if aircraft are overhead.

Remember, hypothermia is real and it will affect you if you’re in the water or in a life raft so make sure you take all precautions to limit its onset.

The above is only a guide and there are many other steps that can save your life but…

…there are many dangers involved that can impact on your ability to survive!

If you would like more information on this subject or to book a training session don’t hesitate to contact me because…it’s your safety and the safety of your crew!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

We strongly recommend ensuring your crew know these survival techniques and…know them well. Providing the right training is essential to ensure you and your crew have the best possible chance of survival if you find yourselves in the water!

As I said last week it’s a requirement for owners and Masters to ensure all their crew are inducted, trained and drills undertaken to ensure the safety of all persons onboard.


By simply training your crew in the HUDDLE and HELP position may be the one thing that saves their lives.

Training in life raft launching, righting and use is also a life saver so my best tip is to make sure you provide your crew with the best possible chance of survival by delivering not only initial training but ongoing training!

Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried.

While stress and anxious feelings can be a common response, they usually pass once the stressful situation has passed or the ‘stressor’ is removed.

Everyone feels anxious from time to time.

When anxious feelings don’t go away, happen without reason or make it hard to cope with daily life, it may be the sign of an anxiety condition.

Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in Australia. On average, one in four people will experience anxiety at some stage in their life. There are many ways to help manage anxiety and the sooner people with anxiety get support, the more likely they are to recover.

People in maritime, especially the commercial fishing sector are at high risk of anxiety due to the uncertainty of the industry.  Causes include government regulations, catch rates, weather and of course, the current pandemic adding increased financial pressure.

This can, and often does lead to anxiety for not only the operators but their families as well!

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of an anxiety condition are often not obvious as they develop slowly and given we all experience some anxiety in our lives, it can be hard to know how much is ‘too’ much.

Normal anxiety tends to be limited in time and connected with some stressful situation or event, such as a job interview.

The type of anxiety associated with a condition is more frequent or persistent, not always connected to an obvious challenge, and impacts on their quality of life and day-to-day functioning.

While each anxiety condition has its own unique features, there are some common symptoms including:

  • Physical: panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening of the chest, quick breathing, restlessness, or feeling tense, wound up and edgy
  • Psychological: excessive fear, worry, catastrophizing, or obsessive thinking
  • Behavioural: avoidance of situations that make you feel anxious which can impact on study, work or social life

These are just some of a number of symptoms that you might experience and are a guide only.  They are not designed to provide a diagnosis, for that, you must see your Doctor.

Types of anxiety

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) Is where a person feels anxious on most days, worrying about lots of different things for a period of 6 months or more.

Social anxiety is where a person has an intense fear of being criticised, embarrassed or humiliated, even in everyday situations, such as speaking publicly, eating in public, being assertive at work or making small talk.

Specific phobias is where a person feels very fearful about a particular object or situation and may go to great lengths to avoid it, for example, having an injection or travelling on a plane. There are many different types of phobias.

Panic disorder is where a person has panic attacks, which are intense, overwhelming and often uncontrollable feelings of anxiety combined with a range of physical symptoms. Someone having a panic attack may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness and excessive perspiration. Sometimes, people experiencing a panic attack think they are having a heart attack or are about to die. If a person has recurrent panic attacks or persistently fears having one for more than a month, they’re said to have panic disorder.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) This is where a person has ongoing unwanted/intrusive thoughts and fears that cause anxiety. Although the person may acknowledge these thoughts as silly, they often try to relieve their anxiety by carrying out certain behaviours or rituals. For example, a fear of germs and contamination can lead to constant washing of hands and clothes.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) This can happen after a person experiences a traumatic event (e.g.  assault, accident, disaster). Symptoms can include difficulty relaxing, upsetting dreams or flashbacks of the event, and avoidance of anything related to the event. PTSD is diagnosed when a person has symptoms for at least a month.

If you are experiencing any of the above, please seek help immediately. Not seeking help can lead to life threatening situations which may be prevented.


Shorlink’s Recommendation

Help is there for anyone suffering anxiety.  Although it can be hard to reach out and ask for help, I strongly recommend taking that step because in most cases early intervention can prevent more longer-term effects.

You can always contact Beyond Blue for mental wellbeing support on 1300 224 636 or call me on 0423 313 790 for assistance.



Please note that support from family and friends can make all the difference for someone with anxiety, depression or suicidal feelings. There are lots of things you can do from noticing changes in their behaviour through to practical support to help them recover and manage their condition.