In the wake of the Costa Concordia, the Sewol, the public is concerned and questioning himself to understand “Are Captains Required To Go Down With Their Ships ?” As maritime professionals, what is your opinion on that problematic matter. Please find some answers that I found on the net …
[I]In the popular tradition of the sea, a ship’s captain is expected to stay until allthe passengers have been safely evacuated.
Customary international law requires captains to operate under the principles of prudent seamanship, which means caring for the safety of crew and passengers. That said, when the ship is sinking, you do try to rescue your own life, but it’s hard to quantify when. As long as your own life is not at risk and there are passengers on board, there is a strong moral obligation to stay.
SOLAS states that all passenger ships must have a system for emergency management, which would set out who is responsible for what during an emergency situation. This may or may not stipulate that the captain has to be the last to leave. “It depends what was written on the plan,” says a spokesman for the IMO.
Howwould a captain fulfil his obligations if he was not on board?
The modern U.S. code, according to a professor at Florida’s Coastal School of Law interviewed by NPR, states that the captain is “legally required to render assistance to every single person trying to get off that ship, and also identify those people who may have been killed in the incident.”
ABC notes that while there aren’t any international maritime laws requiring a captain to stay with his sinking ship, “many countries either have their ownlaws or subscribe to international treaties that mandate certain behavior.”
Under current international regulations, each cruise company must have a safety plan, called a safety management system, that details responsibilities in the event of an emergency, Schoenwald said. One such international treaty is the Safety of Life at Sea convention handled by the International Maritime Organization.The convention requires that passenger ships have emergency management systems in place.
“If you’re going to be master of a ship, your responsibility is first to your passengers, second to your crew, then you look after yourself,” said Allen, a Coast Guard veteran. “It’s shameless and dishonorable for the captain to take himself out of the mix like that.”
Although U.S. law doesn’t single out abandoning ship as a crime, it’s a longtime maritime tradition that the captain be the last one off a sinking ship, according to maritime law professor Craig Allen, visiting professor of law at Yale University Law School and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
In the case of an alarm during a Real Emergency, the passengers must proceed to their muster station. If you are in your cabin, bring your PFD; otherwise, don’t go back for it as there are extras on the boat deck. Find out where you’ll get a life jacket if an emergency keeps you from returning to your room for yours. Remain calm. As a passenger, your obligation is to follow orders. In an emergency situation, don’t expect any crewmember to be less than professional. Your life depends on it. As soon as you board your ship and arrive at your room, find your life vest and participate in the mandatory safety drill, called a muster drill. Pay as close attention to the muster drill as you probably should. Before you board, make a copy of your passport and have a bag with necessities like hard-to-replace medication, said Kimberly Wilson Wetty, head of the Valerie Wilson Travel’s cruise department and John Deiner, managing editor of CruiseCritic.