I can speak to tug and barge stuff and it’s true that changing up the drills can be daunting after many years with the same crew. Try combining a more realistic combination of events. Fuel line failure, drychem then CO2 release, fall back to a SSA and evacuate crewman in a stokes litter (simulate smoke inhalation) prepare to abandon ship. Take your time, it doesn’t need to be done in 30 seconds.
The idea is that the crew must keep in mind that it won’t simply be a fire. It’s going to be confusion, stumbling half asleep, darkness with added smoke. Head counts are difficult under those circumstances.
Crew muster in a dark and quiet boat is not easy. Do it at the dock, ask the Chief to shut everything down, try that.
It’s nearly impossible to setup scenarios like Fire School, so imagination needs to take its place. The crew really needs to treat it as if it’s real. Make sure there is a team mentality in suiting up the response team. Give them the latitude to adjust their approach if they feel the need. Make certain that they can find their way out of a dark and smoky engine room, tape over their visors and have them feel their way out following the hose back to the entry point.
Even though it’s monotonous, actually handle the fuel shutdowns, everyone. Make certain everyone can step up and do everyone else’s job. Change out bottles on the SCBA’s, you’d be surprised how many guys believe they know but have forgotten the method, each SCBA manufacturer has a slightly different setup.
Flooding is the one thing that will get ahead of you quickly. It needs a cool head and the Chief needs a hand to help line up pumps and overboards in a hurry. Make certain everyone is aware of where [I]that[/I] manifold is.
Man Overboard is the toughest, it can’t be stressed enough how little time a man in the water can survive. Discuss how quickly the advance of the boat distances the MOB from rescue. Consider how long it will take to turn around or stop. Has the wheelhouse team ever rounded up on a sea hawser? Give yourself a nice flat day and plenty of sea-room for that one. Close quarters will frequently be a factor. Insist on PFD use.
[I]We use a little equation for the distance covered just relaying the MOB, at 11 knots, approx. 18’ per second, 15 seconds to notify the bridge, = too far away. [/I]At that speed, even if the man was seen falling over, hitting him with a life-ring is unlikely, marking his position with a strobe and a buoy is more useful. Drive home the point that the crew will be at least one short with a MOB.
Do you have a Jason’s Cradle? Set it up and practice rolling a man back into the boat. Be aware that the Jason’s Cradle will likely require someone in the water to guide the victim into the damn thing. He’ll need to be tethered and in an immersion suit as well.
We had a small fire in the galley, an oven mitt was left on a hot burner and filled the galley with smoke pretty quickly, instead of dumping the mitt in the sink and turning on the water, it was run out of the boat and dumped over the side. Duh. Now the whole main deck was smoky. Encourage common sense thinking.
Does everyone know how to setup the AED if you have one? The O2 kit? How to secure someone in a Stokes litter?
Discuss a helo evacuation, stressing the static discharge dangers. Proper water entry in an immersion suit for your vessel?
Have the deck crew walk through the engine room with the Chief and have him point out the critical inspection points for walkarounds.
Then when you’ve run over everything you can think of, let the crew tell their stories of incidents they may have witnessed or experienced in the past. Nothing drives the point home better than a first person recollection. Sea story or not, it illustrates reality pretty well.
Don’t forget to plan for towing gear failures, parted tow lines etc. Take an engine away from the mate. Get the tow safely stopped with a minimum of assets. Shut down the steering pumps (in a controlled situation), demonstrate emergency steering change-over if you have it. Everyone should be able to take the helm in an emergency.
Show all how to contact help over the radio, demonstrate the means to relay position and circumstance to the CG and any other vessels in the vicinity.
These are just a few scenarios I use, maybe they can be of use to you and your crew.