Basic maritime precautions and procedures naturally apply to all seagoing research vessels in the UNOLS fleet. However, the scientific research element adds a unique dimension to shipboard operations seldom found in other areas of the maritime world. The addition of the Science party to the ship and the unusual nature of the work to be performed make it necessary to integrate added safeguards and procedures not commonly found in other areas of maritime work. Many of these extra precautions are discussed in detail in other sections, such as manning, communications, and hazardous materials. The operational aspects of the research program are potential trouble spots because of the non-standard nature or newness of the work. The participation of non-mariners conducting this work and the element of dual control by the Captain and Chief Scientist are also potential areas for problems. This chapter addresses the principal topics of general operations and some prudent steps to be taken to support the research program.
Certain operations for inspected vessels are regulated by 46 CFR 185-196 of Subchapter U and for uninspected vessels by 46 CFR, Part 26 of Subchapter C. Other operations affecting the navigation of vessels, and “rules of the road” are contained in 33 CFR, Chapter I. Recent developments to combat terrorism have added Subchapter H, Maritime Security, to Chapter 1 of 33 CFR; all operators are encouraged to familiarize themselves with parts 101, and 103 thru 106 of this section. To achieve sound operational guidelines, uninspected vessels, insofar as practicable, should use the provisions of 46 CFR 196. In addition to the points mentioned herein, the internal policies set by the operating institution are an essential part of overall operational safety.
Before getting underway or as soon as possible afterwards, there should be a formal safety orientation for all embarked Science party members. Participation should be mandatory. Areas to be covered should include as a minimum: stowage and proper donning of lifejackets, type and location of lifesaving devices, the viewing of the RVOC safety movie, and any other instructions relating to safety for the particular vessel. (46 CFR 185-506 and 46 CFR 26.03-1)
Posted instructions for crew and science party to follow in case of emergency are required. (46 CFR 199.80)
Appropriate charts and publications for the voyage shall be carried. They shall be maintained up to date, and of the appropriate scale to facilitate safe navigation at all times. Electronic charting systems supplement but do not replace the requirement to maintain an up to date chart library for the region of vessel operations. (46 CFR 130.330)
The Master must prepare a voyage plan that includes a Crew and Science Party list before departure. The usual Passenger List is often presented as “Scientific Crew List” or something similar to clearly distinguish that the Science party members are not “Passengers.” (46 CFR 185.503)
All vessels, whether inspected or uninspected, with a fuel capacity of more than 250 barrels (10,500 gallons) of oil are required to have written oil transfer procedures. These procedures must be available during a USCG inspection and must be permanently mounted where the procedures can be easily seen and used by crewmembers engaged in oil transfers. These procedures must apply to both bulk fuel oil transfers to or from another facility and internal transfers between the vessel’s tanks. The requirements for these procedures are contained in 33 CFR 155.720 and 33 CFR 155.730.
If there is an ISM system in place, there should be a specific procedure for the guidance of loading and transfer of fuel oil and lube oil.
An oil record book (Form CG-4602A) is required to be maintained by all vessels 400 Gross Tons (GT) and above under International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) 73/78, Annex I, Chapter II, Regulation 9. Log entries are to be made whenever a vessel discharges ballast or cleaning water from fuel tanks, disposes oily residue (sludge), bunkers, discharges engine room bilge water or has an accidental discharge into the water. Detailed instructions for maintaining the log are contained in the record book.
33 CFR 151.55 requires that vessels over 40 meters (131 feet) in length maintain a Refuse Record Book in which log entries are made by the Master whenever garbage is transferred to another ship or shore facility, or whenever garbage is incinerated or dumped over-the-side. The log entry is to include the date, position, or port where disposal occurred and the amount in cubic meters. The log must be available to the USCG during a boarding or inspection. The log must also be kept for two years after a logbook is full. A waste management plan and mounted warning placard that prohibits the discharge of prohibited refuse over-the-side is also required.
If a stability letter is issued in accordance with 46 CFR 170, it shall be posted in the pilothouse. (46 CFR 170.120 and 46 CFR 196.12)
All research vessels should have posted in conspicuous places station bills setting forth the duties of the crew and scientific personnel under emergency situations. New personnel should be indoctrinated in their duties. (46 CFR 199.80)
Drills must, as far as practicable, be conducted as if there were an actual emergency. Every crewmember on board must participate in at least one abandon-ship drill and one fire drill every month. The drills for the crew must take place within 24 hours of the vessel leaving a port if more than 25 percent of the crew have not participated in abandon-ship and fire drills on board that particular vessel in the previous month (46 CFR 199.180). A ship specific training manual should be developed. Conduct of drills should be noted in the deck log.
All research ships and boats, of whatever size, should carry first aid and other medical supplies as appropriate for the size of vessel, number of persons aboard, and operational pattern. In particular, ships on extended voyages, or in areas remote from shore medical assistance should carry fully adequate medical supplies and instructions. Specific guidance as to medical supplies should be obtained from a competent medical support activity. Selected personnel should be trained in basic First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). Additionally, the Standards of Training, Certification & Watchkeeping (STCW) requires crewmembers to demonstrate competence to undertake listed tasks, duties, and responsibilities. Competency can be demonstrated by successful completion of an STCW approved medical training courses. Vessels on ocean, international, or extended voyages should have firmly established procedures for obtaining medical assistance by satellite phone or radio from a medical support activity, and administering it on board. Support involving radio advisory services, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, training, evaluation and repatriation are available from commercial sources on a subscription and/or contractual basis. (The U.S. Public Health Service is no longer able to provide such support.) All operators should be familiar with and avail themselves of the current UNOLS medical contractor who provides emergency medical advice at sea and routine medical support activity ashore. (46 CFR 72.20-35 - Hospital Spaces)
The following reference books are valuable sources of information:
A properly kept ship’s log is a recognized part of a well-operated vessel. All research vessels, except small boats on day trips, should maintain a formal logbook in which is entered all appropriate records and data. If in doubt, it is much better to log too much than too little. In addition to the purely operational considerations, it is often found that the ship’s log is a useful adjunct source of information for the scientific program, and it thus should include sufficient notations of the research operation to permit relating the scientific logbooks to the ship’s operational activities. (46 CFR 196.35 and 46 CFR 78.37)
Recognizing that planned cruise tracks are often changed between the time a proposal is submitted and the time of the voyage, either the Master or Marine Superintendent of all research vessels shall ensure that a cruise plan is on file with their home office, prior to sailing, which includes the following information:
A copy of the Cruise Plan should be kept at the institutional facility or other designated base, and a copy should be maintained on board. The termination of the cruise or a port arrival should be reported, and it is the responsibility of the Master to see that this is done. The base facility should establish procedures for prompt follow-up action in case of receipt (or non-receipt) of reports.
The National-Geospatial Agency (NGA) is the point of contact for ship operations that use sonic emitters, towed devices, explosive charges, or deploy moored instrumentation. These items could pose a hazard to the safe navigation and operation of submarines and in some cases to surface vessels, particularly those engaged in fishing, towing or other research work. NGA will disseminate this information through the Notice to Mariners and broadcast warnings as well as directly to appropriate Naval commands. Sending the same information directly to the Aids to Navigation office of the appropriate Coast Guard District and in some cases to local Naval Commanders may improve the level of notification and improve local co-ordination of operations.
To contact NGA to update a chart, or submit a notification:
Click on “Products and Services” then on the Nautical section on the web site, and then click on the “Maritime Safety Information” http://www.nga.mil/portal/site/maritime/
The actions required at the scene of a collision, accident, or casualty, and the follow-up paperwork, vary with the legal requirements. In most cases, submission of United States Coast Guard (USCG) forms to the USCG Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection (OCMI) is required. As a general rule, if another vessel is involved, the ship is required to render all practicable assistance in addition to identifying itself. Operators and captains should be thoroughly familiar with the particular requirements, which apply, to their vessel since legal and administrative liability will likely be at stake.
In the case of accidents involving injury to personnel, most institutions have very specific requirements for reporting in addition to the USCG requirement noted above. Ship’s personnel should be thoroughly familiar with these since they are often crucial to liability or insurance proceedings at the federal, state, or institutional level. Notice of collisions, casualties, and accidents are usually required by the owner of the vessel as part of the Charter Party Agreement.
If the incident qualifies as a “serious marine incident” as defined in 46 CFR 4.03-2, then drug and alcohol testing of the individuals involved, including scientists, is required within twenty four hours and must be reported to the Coast Guard. 46 CFR 4.40
Research vessels shall follow the new Maritime Security Policies outlined in 33 CFR Subchapter H; parts 101, 104, and 105. Vessels and facilities required by these new regulations shall submit and follow the provisions of a vessel or facility security plan. It is strongly urged that security obligations and requirements be factored into any science expedition.
Marine superintendents and vessel Masters should also consult the NGA web site to download information on piracy and hostile action towards ships. The Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) “Worldwide threats to shipping report” and the Anti-shipping Activity Messages (ASAM) are useful tools to avoid trouble spots throughout the world. The threat of piracy and terrorist groups attacking ships cannot be underestimated or dismissed as passé.
33 CFR 151.1510 Due to the serious problem of invasive species in US waters, all UNOLS vessels should follow the guidelines established in the USCG Voluntary Ballast Water Management Program. Information can be obtained at: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/gm/mso/mso4/old/estandards.htm.
Vessels over 300 GRT and not owned by the Department of Defense may also have to comply with the EPA regulations regarding Vessel Discharges under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). See the EPA web site at:
Policies of a laboratory or institution operating research vessels regarding their safe operation should be clearly stated in written directives and posted or disseminated as appropriate. As operators implement safety management systems in compliance with International Safety Management (ISM) requirements, these policies will become part of the organization’s structure of accountability and will be subjected to regular audits and reviews – both at home and by foreign port state authorities. As a minimum, the following should be covered:
Research vessel operators should provide cruise handbooks or user manuals with complete information on the ship’s capabilities and procedures for use in planning and conducting cruises. These manuals should be kept current and dated so that users can be sure they have the most current version. These manuals can be posted online as well. Principal Investigators and Chief Scientists should make sure that they thoroughly review and use the appropriate manual when they schedule, prepare for, and carry out their cruise.
In addition, the first chapter of the RVOC Safety Training Manual has been published separately as stand-alone safety indoctrination for members of the scientific party and new crewmembers. All members of the science party should read the RESEARCH PARTY SUPPLEMENT, which is available on UNOLS vessels and on the UNOLS web site.