is essential that seafarers are familiar with the
life-saving systems on board their ships and that they have
confidence that the systems provided for their safety will
work and will be effective in an emergency. Frequent
periodic shipboard drills are necessary to achieve this.
1.1.2 Crew training is an important
component of drills. As a supplement to initial shore-side
training, onboard training will familiarize crew members
with the ship systems and the associated procedures for use,
operation and drills. On these occasions, the objective is
to develop appropriate crew competencies, enabling effective
and safe utilization of the equipment required by the 1974
SOLAS Convention. The time limits set out in SOLAS for ship
abandonment should be considered as a secondary objective
when conducting drills.
1.2 Drill frequency
Experience has shown that holding frequent drills furthers
the goals of making the crew familiar with the life-saving
systems on board their ships and increasing their confidence
that the systems will work and will be effective in an
emergency. Drills give the crew opportunity to gain
experience in the use of the safety equipment and in
cooperation. The ability to cope with an emergency and
handle the situation, if the ship needs to be abandoned,
needs to be well rehearsed. However, frequent crew changes
sometimes make it difficult to assure that all on board have
had the opportunity to participate in drills if only the
minimum required drills are conducted. Therefore,
consideration needs to be given to scheduling drills as
necessary to ensure all on board have an early opportunity
to become familiar with the systems on board.
1.3 Drills must be safe
1.3.1 Abandon ship drills should be
planned, organized and performed so that the recognized
risks are minimized and in accordance with relevant
shipboard requirements of occupational safety and
1.3.2 Drills provide an opportunity to
verify that the life-saving system is working and that all
associated equipment is in place and in good working order,
ready for use.
1.3.3 Before conducting drills, it should be
checked that the lifeboat and its safety equipment have been
maintained in accordance with the ship’s maintenance manuals
and any associated technical documentation, as well as
noting all the precautionary measures necessary. Abnormal
conditions of wear and tear or corrosion should be reported
to the responsible officer immediately.
1.4 Emphasis on learning
Drills should be conducted with an emphasis on learning
and be viewed as a learning experience, not just as a task
to meet a regulatory requirement to conduct drills. Whether
they are emergency drills required by SOLAS or additional
special drills conducted to enhance the competence of the
crew members, they should be carried out at safe speed.
During drills, care should be taken to ensure that everybody
familiarizes themselves with their duties and with the
equipment. If necessary, pauses should be made during the
drills to explain especially difficult elements. The
experience of the crew is an important factor in determining
how fast a drill or certain drill elements should be carried
1.5 Planning and organizing drills
1.5.1 The 1974 SOLAS
Convention requires that drills shall, as far as
practicable, be conducted as if there was an actual
emergency.* This means that the entire drill should, as far
as possible, be carried out. The point is that, at the same
time, it should be ensured that the drill can be carried out
in such a way that it is safe in every respect.
Consequently, elements of the drill that may involve
unnecessary risks need special attention or may be excluded
from the drill.
1.5.2 In preparing for a drill, those
responsible should review the manufacturer’s instruction
manual to assure that a planned drill is conducted properly.
Those responsible for the drill should assure that the crew
is familiar with the guidance provided in the life-saving
system instruction manual.
1.5.3 Lessons learned in the course of a
drill should be documented and made a part of follow-up
shipboard training discussions and planning the next drill
1.5.4 The lowering of a boat with its full
complement of persons is an example of an element of a drill
that may, depending on the circumstances, involve an
unnecessary risk. Such drills should only be carried out if
special precautions are observed.
* Refer to SOLAS regulation III/19.3.1.