It is to stress about the importance of familiarization onboard and how religiously it has to be followed, that an experience of mine of a vessel relates to.

On a certain vessel, it occurred so that, while on rounds prior to taking over watch in E/R, a fire alarm prompted me to rush down to the control room. The moment, I entered the ECR, a call from W/H was complaining about the steering not responding. The duty engineer was instructed immediately to rush to steering flat and take the same on to local / emergency steering, He went and responded positive.

Mean while on enquiring with the W/H, it was found the location of fire could not be read on the panel, and so the ship’s staff distributed across various regions of the ship to identify / locate any kind of fire incident any where. Fortunately, there was no such an incident and alarm was declared faulty.

On further diagnosis, it was found that the first alarm on was that of “Fire detection system source failure” which, the officer on watch (the chief mate, incidentally) mistook it to be a fire alarm and since he could not identify the zone / which obviously would not be found on the said panel) and raised the alarm by pushing the nearby manual alarm push button. The circuit breaker supplying power to all emergency equipment was put off by a crew member unintentionally and even without his own knowledge, which triggered the source failure alarm and cut-off supply to fire detection, led to a good 20 minutes of panic and confusion.

To conclude, had the officers / personnel, upon joining been made familiar with all essential equipments, as regards to their location and their basic function, such an incident would not have occurred.

So, let us make sure that we followed all the regulation / guide lines which had been laid up for our own good and safer running of the ships!.