man-overboard-recovery

Some years ago in a now defunct navy journal an article was written about what people think when they fall overboard. Several predominant factors were recognized: (1) Do they know I am overboard? (2) What are they doing? (3) How can I help my rescue? After some study and research the following was gleaned:

a. Most victims that fall overboard and are not recovered because their location is not known.

b. Some recovered bodies showed signs of exhaustion rather than drowning.

c. Recovered victims that remained afloat and conserved energy and remained in a position near the wake were recovered soonest.

It was determined that if the person falling overboard had knowledge of the search and rescue procedures it could increase the victims chances of recovery.

Therefore the following was developed:

INSTRUCTIONS IF YOU SHOULD FALL OVERBOARD.

1. Immediately upon notification that some one has fallen overboard or is missing the international signal for man overboard will be sounded on the ships whistle: three blasts (the letter O in the international Morse code) and a vertically fired flare will be launched. A radio message will also be transmitted on area and international frequencies.

2. If you are in sight, the ship will return to your position by the most expeditious means. This may mean simply turning around and coming to you, or if you are not in sight or it is dark or foggy, by using a Williamson Turn to retrace the ship’s track and then start a search for you.

3. Do not panic or try to swim to the ship. Use your shirt, coat or pants to make a flotation pillow.

4. WHEN THE SHIP ARRIVES AT THE START SEARCH POSITION IT WILL BLOW TWO VERY LONG WHISTLE

BLASTS AND LAUNCH A SMOKE FLOAT. The ship will then commence a search for you and will return to that smoke float every 15 minutes and sound a very long blast, and then resume searching.

5. You should swim towards the Start Search Point regardless of what the ship does. Do not swim after the ship.

6. Following these instruction will greatly improve your chances of recovery and can expedite the search.

7. If you need any further clarification ask questions now.

It is recommended this notice be posted on all department bulletin boards.

This article was written by Captain John Denham, a veteran of 66 years maritime experience in seamanship, ship handling, navigation, piloting, and education. he is also author of The Assistant and DD 891.

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  • http://www.marinebuzz.com OldSailor

    Nice and easy to understand compilation.

  • http://www.marinebuzz.com OldSailor

    Nice and easy to understand compilation.

  • http://www.marinebuzz.com OldSailor

    Nice and easy to understand compilation.

  • Pingback: Man Over Board Search System, Wave Finder: An Overview | MarineBuzz.com()

  • Ben

    Am I missing something or did you forget the lifering?

  • Ben

    Am I missing something or did you forget the lifering?

  • Ben

    Am I missing something or did you forget the lifering?

  • Rory

    Ben, you are missing something! The instructions are for if YOU are the Man Overboard – not if you see somebody go overboard.

  • Rory

    Ben, you are missing something! The instructions are for if YOU are the Man Overboard – not if you see somebody go overboard.

  • Rory

    Ben, you are missing something! The instructions are for if YOU are the Man Overboard – not if you see somebody go overboard.

  • jon spencer

    One of these sure would help.
    ACR AquaFix 406 MHz GPS I Personal EPIRB.

  • Ben

    Rory,

    So *I* am going to fire a vertical flare? Or maybe he means I will look for the flare but then shouldn’t I look for the lifering?

  • Ben

    Rory,

    So *I* am going to fire a vertical flare? Or maybe he means I will look for the flare but then shouldn’t I look for the lifering?

  • Ben

    Rory,

    So *I* am going to fire a vertical flare? Or maybe he means I will look for the flare but then shouldn’t I look for the lifering?

  • Rory

    Ah Ben I understand what you mean now. You raise a good point!

  • john.denham

    The coments are what I experienced when I first read the article. What transpired was “discussion”, something no one had done before. After pulling a number of people out of the water I learned no one could see the ship or life ring because the height of eye of the MOB is maybe one foot. The flare increases the probable visual sight distance. Noise travels well over water. Any sign is better than none as hope is all one originally has. At night or in fog. every item in the water must be visited, that takes time and may require additional maneuvering; it is a gamble, but one target limits the odds. A self made flotation pillow (pants are great) can support a person for hours, in some cases longer. There are two situations to consider: MOB in sight; don’t screw around, go get him as fast as feasible. Not insight: select most probable mean of search. Several points are critical (1) know someone is looking for you if not stay afloat and near wake. (2) know what to expect if a search is started (3) How can I help me?
    The recovery people must understand the dynamics of recovery: ship recovery has problesm with propellors, suctions and freeboard. Boat recovery one must determine is MOB alert or unconcious. Strong swimmer; how strong and can he/she do it alone? Best training is a pre-event discussions.

  • john.denham

    The coments are what I experienced when I first read the article. What transpired was “discussion”, something no one had done before. After pulling a number of people out of the water I learned no one could see the ship or life ring because the height of eye of the MOB is maybe one foot. The flare increases the probable visual sight distance. Noise travels well over water. Any sign is better than none as hope is all one originally has. At night or in fog. every item in the water must be visited, that takes time and may require additional maneuvering; it is a gamble, but one target limits the odds. A self made flotation pillow (pants are great) can support a person for hours, in some cases longer. There are two situations to consider: MOB in sight; don’t screw around, go get him as fast as feasible. Not insight: select most probable mean of search. Several points are critical (1) know someone is looking for you if not stay afloat and near wake. (2) know what to expect if a search is started (3) How can I help me?
    The recovery people must understand the dynamics of recovery: ship recovery has problesm with propellors, suctions and freeboard. Boat recovery one must determine is MOB alert or unconcious. Strong swimmer; how strong and can he/she do it alone? Best training is a pre-event discussions.

  • Ben

    That clears it up but how do you calculate for current without floatsam to follow?

  • john.denham

    Good question. The surfac smoke float ( best estimate to start search) and a float supported body will drift with the wind surface current at a similar rate. Regardless of where the MOB actially fell overboard the search is started where the searchers believe is the best place ( if not insight) and that (the smoke float) moves with the wind surface current . A problem may exist with GPS as it provides a specific position with out regard to current. I have no expereience with Satellite or GPS assisted searches, but tracked smoke floats during searches. Lat & Long changed but we were always with the smoke float. Would like some feedback on electronic assisted searches. Have you though about actual recovery? JGD

  • john.denham

    Good question. The surfac smoke float ( best estimate to start search) and a float supported body will drift with the wind surface current at a similar rate. Regardless of where the MOB actially fell overboard the search is started where the searchers believe is the best place ( if not insight) and that (the smoke float) moves with the wind surface current . A problem may exist with GPS as it provides a specific position with out regard to current. I have no expereience with Satellite or GPS assisted searches, but tracked smoke floats during searches. Lat & Long changed but we were always with the smoke float. Would like some feedback on electronic assisted searches. Have you though about actual recovery? JGD

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