When I was in the middle of one of my daily guard duties, Nuño and Carlos began-by surprise-a drill to abandon ship. They sounded the siren and announced through a megaphone: “Attention, attention, this is an emergency drill, abandon ship, this is an emergency drill, abandon ship, please, leave your posts at once”. In a split second, the entire crew dashed about. Some of them were sleeping, others on deck or in the messroom, but the reaction was instant.
Each crew member has a place and mission assigned in case of an emergency situation that would force us to abandon ship; this may be that the ship begins to flood or a fire breaks onboard the Ranger. It is vital that all crew members are trained in emergency procedures and are able to react efficiently and without panic in a case like this, which we all wish never take place.
In a hypothetical emergency, the twelve people onboard would occupy the two automatic inflatable life rafts, but each would previously make sure to upload provisions, blankets, water, medications, flare guns, radio beacons, and other means for survival to add to those already stored in the raft. Meanwhile, the first officer’s mission is to radio transmit the international distress message from the ship’s main radio to facilitate rescue operations, and set up other automatic signal devices that would allow search teams to locate the shipwreck position. One of these automatic signal devices is integrated into the satellite transmitter Remote Knowledge that allows those reading these pages, to follow the daily course of the Ranger.
I must be in charge of putting on the life jacket, take some blankets and water, go the life raft located at the prow-starboard side and report at Carlos’s orders.
Once that was over, we met to discuss the procedure and to listen to everyone’s opinions on this emergency drill. The overall evaluation was positive coming from Nuño and Carlos and except for some “aspects to be improved” from our performance, the drill has been satisfactory. Everyone reported to their posts and had rafts fully loaded in 7 minutes. The least satisfactory aspects were related to the clothing and shoes worn by some of the crew members which were considered to be inadequate in carrying out an abandon ship maneuver and this will be improved in future emergency drills. That was it.
It is curious, but, although I knew it was only a drill, I could not help but feel a little anxious, trying to comply with my mission as diligently as possible and at the same time keep an eye on the surroundings to see if there was anything else I could help with.