Boat drills are a significant part of our semester at sea training. These boat drills ensure the cadets' safety as well as prepare us for the "worst case scenarios" that could happen aboard a vessel. It takes cooperation and attentiveness in order for these boat drills to be a success. Before we were able to leave Buzzards Bay, we had to pass a Coast Guard inspection of our performance during a boat drill. These drills are taken very seriously for both competence of life at sea and safety.
There are four types of emergency situations that that could happen while out at sea. They are: Fire and Emergency; The first one occurs when there is a fire aboard the ship and the Cadet Fire Party has to take action. The second type of boat drill is an Abandon Ship; when the emergency (either a fire or the ship capsizing) was not able to be resolved and everyone must enter the life boats and abandon the ship. Next is the Man Overboard call; when someone has fallen into the ocean. The person that witnessed the man overboard or anyone who can see the person in the water is must to point at the victim and yell "MAN OVERBOARD! MAN OVERBOARD!" until someone else is able to retrieve a life ring and throw it out to the victim. The fourth drill is a Security Alert or Breach. This is called when when someone who is not authorized to be on the Kennedy has invaded the ship and could pose a threat to us.
Each of these different emergencies have their very own "signature" pattern on the ships whistle and general alarm. The PA system also gives a brief announcement to ensure that there is no confusion. For the first three drills, once you hear the whistle, you must make your way to your pre-assigned lifeboat, with your lifejacket, any your billet card for a muster. Your billet card clearly states where you should be and whether your Division has any special duties to carry out. For example is my division is marked "Providing", and we have a Fire and Emergency drill, I muster at DC LOCKER #4 instead of my lifeboat# 8.
In the case of a Security Alert or Breach Drill, we do not muster at all, we immediately return to our holds (beds), lock the door, and remain silent. These clearly outlined procedures for drills combined with the billet card written instructions may seem strict, but they are well worth it. We practice a drill once every week to ensure that we are capable of making it trough a real emergency.
Try these challenges:
Build a Lifeboat
Design a Life Vest
Tour a Life Boat