Emergency Procedures


Stranding can occur for a number of reasons:

  • Bad navigation
  • Faulty navigation instruments
  • Bad weather
  • Engine breakdown
  • etc.
In case of stranding, take at least following actions:

  • Stop engines immediately (it happens that a ship runs aground with very little speed on a very soft bottom with very little slope) and that nobody on the bridge or in the engine room has felt it)
  • Sound general alarm
  • Watertight doors to be closed
  • VHF watch maintained on channel 16
  • Broadcast to other vessels
  • Sound signals, Light / Shapes to be exhibited especially important in case of fog)
  • Deck lighting switched on
  • Check position on chart
  • Take note of any valuable information (time, course steered, speed, log, eventual manoeuvres, etc.)
  • Sound bilges, tanks
  • Immediately take overboard soundings around vessel to check on what type of sandbank the ship is lying.
  • If the ship is on top of a flat sandbank the danger of breaking in two is minimal. If the ship lies on a mountainous sandbank the risk of breaking is real and the stress on the ship enormous. In that case urgent action must be taken:

    • try to free the ship by giving full astern (or full ahead) with successively the rudder to hard starboard and hard port (a lot depends on the type and size of ship)
    • call the assistance of tug boats
    • consider jettison of cargo (to throw cargo overboard). Be careful of risk of pollution

  • Evaluate risks of pollution
  • Inform Company and any third parties if relevant (P & I Club, Hull underwriters, Port authorities, etc)
  • Update if necessary vessel's position in radio room, satellite terminal and other automatic distress transmitter (GMDSS)
  • Consider danger of the situation and if possible take pictures
  • Consider further actions with consideration for:

    • salvage
    • risks of sinking (emergency message, EPIRB's, abandon ship)
    • secure position (change of tide, weather, stream, stress risks, stability)
    • assistance, port of refuge, oil spills
    • Keep the Company always informed
    • Enter every action taken in the log book

Overboard soundings

When a ship has ran aground, it is of good practice to take the overboard soundings in a well defined pattern and to send these soundings together with other relevant information to the Company and other rescuing parties. This will allow them to assess the situation properly with regard to the ship's stability, stress on the hull and allow them to take the right measures to refloat the vessel or take any other rescuing action if the master hasn't done so yet.

For vessels of less than 200 m in length, the hull will be divided in 10 equal parts. Starting from the stem over starboard to the stern and than back onto the stem over port giving thus 20 sounding points (Figure 1).

Figure 1

For vessels of more than 200 m in length, the hull will be divided in 15 sections giving 30 soundings (Figure 2)

Figure 2

Example of grounding information

Message to Owners at xxx

Vessel "Name of ship" grounded June 25, 12.15 local time, 16.15 GMT

24 08,5 N 48 45,2 W Stop Tank 2 flooded five foot four water Hold 2 seven foot six water stop

Alongside 28 sand 27 sand 29 rock 26 rock 25 rock 28 sand 35 sand 29 sand 31 sand 30 sand 33 sand 32 sand 29 sand 28 sand 27 rock 29 rock 27 sand 28 sand 30 sand 31 sand

Draft afloat fore 27.08 aft 29 08 grounded fore 23 06 aft 30 09 heel 3 port heading 220 moderate swell average length fresh northerly breeze forecast no changes stop

impossible refloat own means stop contacted salvage Cy "ZZZ" expected here tonight.