A member has reported an incident in which a man overboard alert was caused on a vessel when life jackets were spotted floating in the sea. The duty officer sighting life jackets floating in the water, called the master, who then called the nearby floating production storage and offloading unit (FPSO) and asked if there had been any reports of man overboard or similar distress. There was no such emergency.
The life jackets were recovered, whereupon it was discovered that they came from the vessel itself. Five empty life jackets were recovered. An inventory of on-board life jackets was made and it was found that the five jackets came from a storage box located near the muster station. Owing to gusting winds, the lid of the box had been blown open.
Members are reminded to ensure that objects on the open deck – particularly boxes or storage containers – are properly secured against the effects of heavy seas causing movement of the vessel, and against all possible winds, including the effects of helicopters. At the same time, it is important to ensure that life-jackets and other emergency equipment remain available and easy for crew to access in the event of a genuine emergency.