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A reminder on watertight doors

What happened

Watertight doors that ought have been secured  shut, were observed open during a  safety walkaround. It’s worth reiterating the importance of watertight doors – the clue is in the name. Watertight doors are special types of doors found on vessels, which prevent the ingress of water from one compartment to other during flooding or accidents, and therefore act as a safety barrier limiting the spread of water inside the vessel.

SOLAS regulations mandate that watertight doors should be kept closed at sea except when in use – i.e. when there is the need for crew to pass through them. (SOLAS: Chapter II-1, Part B-4, Regulation 22). The company’s own rules mandated this also: All watertight doors, scuttles, and fittings below the main deck shall always remain closed except when in use.

What was the cause

  • It was noted, after further investigation during review of similar cases on two other fleet vessels, that watertight doors were left open after the regular engine room walk around, as this was a regular activity and there was “no point to open and close each time”;
  • It was found that some crew were not aware of the relevant SOLAS and SMS requirements or the importance of keeping watertight doors closed at sea in case of emergency.

IMCA notes: In this case, it seems easy and simple to leave the watertight door open – and thus do things in an unsafe  way. What could we do in this case to make it difficult to work in an unsafe way? Is there a way here to make it easy and simple to work in a safe way?


  • Look out for yourself your colleagues and others around you;
  • Take 5 seconds to think about a task before you start;
  • Don’t take shortcuts in safety to get the job done faster;
  • If it’s unsafe – STOP THE JOB!

Members may wish to refer to:

Safety Event

Published: 16 April 2024
Download: IMCA SF 08/24

Relevant life-saving rules:
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