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On the evening of November 17, 2000, the U.S. small passenger vessel Port Imperial Manhattan, with three crewmembers and eight passengers on board, was en route to Weehawken, New Jersey, from the borough of Manhattan in New York City, New York, when a fire broke out in the engine room. Crewmembers attempted to extinguish the fire with portable extinguishers, with no success. The fire burned out of control, causing the vessel to lose power and forcing the crew and passengers to abandon the interior spaces. The crew and passengers were rescued by another NY Waterway passenger vessel, and the burning vessel was towed to Manhattan, where the New York City Fire Department extinguished the fire. One passenger was treated for smoke inhalation. No deaths resulted from this accident. The estimated cost to repair the vessel was $1.2 million.
TO THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD: Require that owners and operators of small passengers vessels in commuter and ferry service provide crowd control training to their vessel operating crews.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Unacceptable Action
River, NY, United States
Fire on Board the Small Passenger Vessel
Port Imperial Manhattan
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
USCG (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Crowd Control, Training and Education
Safety Recommendation History
The Safety Board notes that examination and training requirements have been established for crewmembers on board small passenger vessels, including those engaged in commuter and ferry service, and that the Coast Guard believes these requirements are sufficient. The Safety Board also noted previously in this letter the Coast Guard's position on the sufficiency of NVIC 1-91. In the case of the Port Imperial Manhattan, during the fire, the passengers milled about on the foredeck and began to discuss among themselves what they should do to protect themselves. One passenger, at her own initiative, used her cellular telephone to contact the 911 emergency operators to report the fire and to call for assistance. Other passengers considered whether they would have to abandon ship. Neither the master nor the deckhands could attend to the passengers during the early stages of the emergency because crewmembers were trying to extinguish the fire or alert others to their situation. The inability of the crew to manage the passengers caused some passengers to panic and take actions that potentially placed them in jeopardy. One passenger reentered a smoke-filled passenger cabin to retrieve lifejackets for himself and other passengers. Another passenger, hearing an explosion on board the vessel, had to be restrained from jumping into the river. The Safety Board concluded that the crew of the Port Imperial Manhattan was unable to properly manage the passengers during the emergency because they were overtasked with fighting the fire and because they lacked adequate resources and training. During a shipboard emergency, crewmembers must be able to address the emergency while protecting their own safety and the safety of passengers. However, in order for crewmembers to maintain control of the passengers during an emergency, they must be properly trained. Crowd management courses should include, at a minimum, training in the following areas to enable crewmembers to assist passengers during emergencies: · Awareness of emergency plans and instructions and the knowledge of emergency exits and evacuation restrictions. · Ability to assist passengers en route to muster and embarkation stations, including how to give clear reassuring orders, how to control passenger movement, how to keep escape routes clear of obstructions, how to evacuate disabled people and those needing special assistance, and how to search accommodation spaces. · Knowledge of effective mustering procedures, including the ability to use effective procedures for keeping order and for reducing and avoiding panic, and the ability to ensure that the passengers have donned their lifejackets correctly. The Safety Board's investigation revealed that the instruction and drills provided to the crew of the Port Imperial Manhattan did not prepare them for providing the necessary control of the passengers during the fire emergency. Only eight passengers were on board at the time of the fire, however, the vessel was certificated to carry 350 passengers; had more passengers been on board, the consequences could have been far more serious. The Board concluded in the Port Imperial Manhattan report that, without proper training, masters and deckhands on small passenger vessels in commuter and ferry service are ill-prepared to control large numbers of passengers during fires or other shipboard emergencies. The Safety Board continues to believe that the Coast Guard should require owners and operators of small passenger vessels in commuter and ferry service to provide crowd control training to their vessel operating crews. However, the Coast Guard stated in its November 21, 2003, letter-and senior Coast Guard staff reaffirmed on September 9, 2004-that it will not be taking any regulatory action on this issue; accordingly, Safety Recommendation M-02-11 is classified "Closed--Unacceptable Action." Because Coast Guard senior staff indicated at the September 9, 2004, meeting that it would take a second look at the NVIC 1-91 in relation to Safety Recommendation M-02-12, that recommendation is classified "Open--Unacceptable Response," pending receipt of further information from the Coast Guard.
Letter Mail Controlled 11/24/2003 12:14:53 PM MC# 2030577 We partially concur with this recommendation. Examination and training requirements have been established for crewmembers on board small passenger vessels, including those engaged in commuter and ferry service. To become a Master of a small passenger vessel, an individual is required to demonstrate proficiency in emergency procedures, including passenger/crew safety in emergency. Other crewmembers on small passenger vessels are required to receive training in the duties they will be expected to perform in an emergency. This includes, but is not limited to, the emergency instructions listed on the emergency instructions placard posted at the operating station of the vessel. Additional guidance and recommendations for training of deckhands is provided through Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) I-91. Accordingly, we believe the current training requirements are sufficient. We intend to take no further action on this recommendation and request that it be closed.
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