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Coast Guard Inspections

Besides protecting the coast, the Coast Guard are responsible for search and rescue operations on their costal areas. In order to keep their coastal waters safe, they also do inspections of the ships which sail in their waters.

In most cases, of course depending on your position onboard, a coast guard inspection will affect you only in two ways:

  1. you will not be allowed off the ship until the coast guard inspection is complete;
  2. there will be a general crew drill held, in which you must participate (as in all crew drills).

The Coast Guards will inspect certificates, personnel documentation, life saving equipment, fire screen doors, water tight doors, and procedures.

Coast Guard Inspections

It has become common practice for the coast guards to request a general crew drill to be held at the end of the inspection. The coast guards will often choose the kind of emergency for the drill and this will normally include the medical team and the fire-fighting team. They will be witnessing all operations, watch and evaluate crew and officers actions and reactions. At the same time coast guard inspectors will check on the crew members assigned to designated spots during evacuation.

Coast Guards inspecting a cruise ship

Inspection of Crew Members' Knowledge

Not only will they check if the crew member is present, but their behaviour, too. Leaning against the wall, looking bored, chatting with each other are not behaviours the Coast Guards like. The Captain will for sure hear about it, and you will afterwards too, often in a form of a written warning.

Coast Guard inspectors are also likely to question the crew about the ship, their duties, the emergency signals and the life-saving equipment onboard.

Very common questions are:

  • How much food and water is available to each person in a life-boat?
  • What kind of fire extinguishers the ship carries?
  • Which extinguisher is used for what kind of fire?

Often they also want to see an active approach and will walk into an elevator testing the reaction of the crew member next to the elevator, who has the duty to stop passengers from using the elevator (in this case the Coast Guard inspector identifiable by their Uniform should be stopped by the crew member, like in a real emergency, and directed to use the stairs).

Questioning of the crew will continue, when the abandon ship signal is given and everyone has to report to their assigned life-boat/life-raft. Lowering of life boats, the equipment and the knowledge of the crew will be tested again.

Emergency training is essential onboard a ship and may safe your life. It is something to be taken seriously.