United States Coast Guard

United States Coast Guard Issues Safety Alert Reassessing Man-Overboard Risks

On April 24th, The United States Coast Guard released a Safety Alert reassessing man-overboard risks in response to a fatality that occurred while a personnel exchange was taking place at sea. You can read the full Safety Alert here  In the Alert it was stated, The ship’s Boatswain and Ordinary Seaman (OS) were manning the port side shell access port and pilot embarkation space behind a hydraulically operated bi-fold hatch door and were preparing for the pilot’s arrival. The port was located forward of the house and approximately 13-feet above the waterline. The Boatswain and OS were unable to monitor the seas from their position behind the hatch door. As the two crew members were in the process of opening the door, seas unexpectedly struck and violently forced it open, flooding the space. The OS was not wearing a harness or safety line nor a personal flotation device; he was subsequently swept out to sea. The Boatswain was forced onto the deck whereby the pilot ladder fell on him, fracturing his leg. The side shell door also sustained structural damage during the incident. Coast Guard Sector New York launched an extensive search and rescue mission that was terminated with no success after 28 hours. The OS was lost and presumed dead.”

The Safety Alert goes on to state, “This casualty reiterates the dangers of personnel exchanges at sea, especially in heavy weather conditions”. Emerald Marine Products agrees that casualty can occur in heavy weather conditions but we have historically seen casualties and near fatalities relating to man-overboard incidents occurring even in calm weather conditions. As reported in the past, man-overboard incidents are caused from many conditions, such as tripping on misplaced objects, dehydration, exhaustion, poor training. Regardless of weather, actions should be taken by companies to assure their employees are protected.

The Safety Alert goes on to state; “The Coast Guard strongly recommends owners and operators of deep draft vessels:

  • Review vessel Safety Management Systems, procedural manuals and guidance that relate to pilot transfers and update as appropriate, considering risks revealed by this casualty;
    • Reinforce the importance for crew members to wear personal protection devices and safety lines when working over the side of a vessel, when exposed to the elements or when there is an absence of a barrier that prevents an accidental water entry;
    • Ensure officers and crew identify potential hazards and conduct a risk assessment, to include consideration of weather conditions, prior to opening the side shell port hatches;
    • Ensure crew communications between Navigation Watch Officers and crew are clear and provide suitable supervision of activities, considering sea state and other changing conditions.”

Emerald Marine Products has heard that more Form CG-835V have been issued to companies that don’t fully comply with Management Safety Systems (SMS) or Towing Safety Management Systems (TSMS). In light of this latest Safety Alert, we are sure the US Coast Guard will be actively looking at many companies compliance with SMS or TSMS.

When companies review their SMS or TSMS policies they should seriously look at the ALERT Man-Overboard Alarm System. In the case of the tragedy outlined earlier, the use of the ALERT system would have helped to track the seaman who was swept out to sea. The ALERT Man-Overboard System is recognized as the leading and fastest indicator of a man-overboard situation. Our automatic water activated transmitters report to the wheelhouse or other monitoring station within seconds of a MOB. A visual of a person in the water will assure a quick response and will be integral in the execution of your MOB recovery outlined in your SMS or TSMS. Why not invest in an alerting system that compliments your mandated MOB procedures? The investment is a fraction of your cost to implement a SMS or TSMS and will pay dividends by providing your employees with the confidence that in the event of a man-overboard incident, the crew will be notified within seconds, and tracking in the event that the MOB is lost will help in their quick recovery.

For more information about our products and how we help companies comply with their Safety Management System or Towing Safety Management System procedures, contact Emerald Marine Products via this contact link or call, 800-426-4201.


MOB Rescue with OSCAR - Water Rescue Training Dummy and C-Hero Lift.

Partnership That Saves Lives

Shane Smith, Founder of C-Hero, a manufacturer of life saving products contacted Emerald Marine Products in 2016 with one goal, increase the chances of saving a life of a tug boat crew member. In 2016, Captain Smith was developing a product that within three years would become a certified type-approval. Specific to International Maritime Organization A520(13) operational readiness requirements for vessels with lower freeboards.

Emerald Marine Products worked closely with C-Hero in the development of their C-Hero Lifting Davit and C-Hero VR-12 Reach poll because our products were so closely aligned and Captain Smith’s knowledge and passion for safety. As Captain Smith expressed when he first contacted Emerald Marine Products, “My product gets a person out of the water, quickly and safely. Your product lets the boat know you have someone in the water in the first place. Before you have a rescue you need to have an alert of a man-overboard.” Captain Smith really understood the impact of a total solution to someone falling in the water. First comes the alert, then the training of a crew so they can spring to a rescue effortlessly and quickly. Finally, the retrieval of the person quickly and safely. “Due to the height and reach of a tugboat, rescue products on the market were not adequate for tugboats”, Captain Smith iterated. Though designed for the tugboats, the C-Hero Lifting Davit works with all other types of vessels such as ferries, push boats and ocean supply vessels (OSV), hence the recently certified type-approval to meet SubchapterM requirements. The USCG (SubM) option boats are required to perform a Man –Overboard (MOB) drill for the USCG at the time of Certificate of Inspection (COI). In 137.215 (4) a surveyor has to examine systems in support of drills and training to ensure that it operates as intended.

Emerald Marine Products is proud to be an adjunct to the SubchapterM requirements and a partner with C-Hero. Together, we provide a total Man-Overboard Alert and Rescue solution with our ALERT Man-Overboard Alarm System, OSCAR – Water Rescue Training Dummy and C-Hero’s Lift Davit and VR-12 Reach Pole. For more information about these products contact Emerald Marine Products via this contact link or call, 800-426-4201.


Fall Overboard Tragedy Can be Prevented

ALERT Man-Overboard Alarm System

ALERT Man-Overboard Alarm System protects all people on or near water.

As a manufacturer of products specific to fall overboard alerting and retrieval, we monitor the news for fall overboard incidents. Just today we read about two fatalities that occurred, each when a worker fell into the water and no one was aware of the issue until it became tragic. The Maritime Executive Online reported, “In the early hours of Saturday morning, a deckhand disappeared from a moored towboat on the Mississippi River at St. Joseph, Louisiana. The Coast Guard, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and the local sheriff’s department conducted a search of the river all day Saturday – including dragging the river and scanning with sonar – but without success. The search resumed Sunday morning.” In the same online issue of The Maritime Executive Online reported , “At about 1700 hours Sunday, Sector Honolulu received a distress call from the master of the fishing vessel Kawaiola, who reported that one of their crewmembers had gone overboard. The missing fisherman was last seen on the deck of the vessel at 1430 hours, and the crew did not realize that he was no longer aboard until several hours had passed.”

Two different locations, two different industries, two different work environments but both ended in the same outcome – a person fell into the water and no one was aware of this fall-overboard until minutes, even hours passed before this person was missed. We don’t know the details of these tragedies but we do know the use of an ALERT Man-Overboard transmitter on that worker could have averted the tragedy by altering the crew and vessel of a man-overboard (MOB).

Even if the person is wearing a personal flotation device (PFD), which definitely can give the person a greater opportunity for survival, there is still a need to alert the vessel that the person fell from, as this is the greatest chance of survival. The ALERT Transmitter immediately notifies the boat that a MOB has occurred, quickly calling into action all eyes and able bodies to rescue the man-overboard in minutes.

Emerald Marine Products is moved by these tragedies to reach out to the fishing community and to other small business that rely on the health and safety of their workers to continue to prosper in a very competitive and physically challenging work environment. We ask these enterprises to seriously consider investing in wearing and using PFD’s. We promise to do all we can to make our ALERT product available to you at a discount so finances are not the issue in preventing fishermen or small businesses from using a fall overboard alarm system. Because our ALERT Man-Overboard Alarm System is automatic and water activated, when the person falls overboard, conscious or not, PFD wearer or not, the device when it gets wet will begin to transmit to the ALERT Receiver and within seconds the alarm is alerting all those in the area of a fall overboard situation.

We encourage solo fishermen, small fishing companies, non-profits catering to the commercial fishing industry, and other small businesses with employees working on or near water to contact us and see if we can help protect their fleets, We’d love to see these all too familiar headline’s about “Disappearing Deckhand” and “Search for Missing Fisherman” to have a better end to the story. A headline that reads, “Fisherman Falls Overboard and is Rescued by Crew”. Life saved, a story with a much better ending than the one’s we read all too often.


Fall Overboard Situations Presentation


Now available is a presentation given to the Signal Mutual Safety Meeting about Fall Overboard Situations, their cause, and solutions for fall overboard alerting and retrieval.


Water Rescue, Retrieval, Recovery

Many times the words “rescue”, “retrieval” and “recovery” are used synonymous with each other when describing the action of bringing a fall overboard victim back to the boat commonly referred to as man overboard training. However, depending on who is bringing the fall overboard victim back to the boat and the condition of that fall overboard victim, the words “Rescue”, “Retrieval”, “Recovery” take on different meaning.

At Emerald Marine Products we actually take these words very seriously and have developed a water rescue dummy specific to the needs of the training operation, sometimes referred to as “Oscar Training’.

The word “Retrieval” signifies the first action of a man overboard training operation. The assumption is that someone has fallen into the water and person(s) on the vessel they just fell of need to “Retrieve” that person. So the team begins a retrieval process by knowing how to get the fall overboard victim back to the boat (maneuvering boat, or throwing a device that the victim can hold onto or be captured by). Once the person is near the boat, the retrieval process requires getting them out of the water and onto the boat. This may require a lifting device or brute strength to lift them out of the water. Easier said than done, correct? Hence the need to train for these type of situations.

The word “Rescue” comes after a successful Retrieval. What determines success? Actually getting the fall overboard victim safely out of the water and back onto the boat. Our OSCAR – Water Rescue Training Dummy (part number OT100) serves the purpose of practicing a retrieval so it becomes a successful rescue. When easily assembled, the OSCAR mannequin is six foot in height and when the bladders are filled with water, oscar weigh can be up to 180 pounds, providing a very realistic water retrieval situation.

“Recovery” is used in the event that the retrieval is not successful. The person who fell overboard was lost or drowned before a successful retrieval was performed. Though this term is not used lightly, it is a training required by many First Responder agencies to practice the undesirable job of finding and recovering a drowned victim. In the event of a Recovery training scenario you actually want the “victim” to be fully submerged. Emerald Marine Products manufactures a “Recovery” mannequin that unlike the Water Rescue Training Dummy, where the head and arms will float, can be filled completely filled with water to sink. The OSCAR – Water Retrieval Dummy (part number OT200) is available exclusively through our dealer Landfall Rescue. If your training organization does not need a full-time recovery dummy, the OSCAR – Water Rescue Training Dummy (OT100) can be outfitted with weights to sink the unit. Simply attach at least 40 pounds of weights to the stainless steel mid-section bolt of the rescue mannequin.

Our OSCAR training dummies have been used in scores of training operations. Some operations don’t involve a “victim.” Recently Virginia Tech University used our OSCAR mannequin to float highly sensitive instrumentation to collect data on a research project they are conducting for monitoring tracking agents in water to aid in research on hazardous spills and search and rescue.

Whether your needs require retrieval, rescue, recovery or to simulate an adult human being in water environments that may be unsafe for a real person, our OSCAR – Water Rescue Training Dummy (versions OT100 or OT200) may be just the solution to your training/experiment needs.

OSCAR – Water Rescue Training Dummy available in two colors.


Instructors Agree on OSCAR Water-Rescue Training Dummy

Recovering someone who has fallen into the water is no easy task, especially if the victim is unconscious or lethargic due to cold temperatures. Training is essential to prepare potential rescuers for how difficult it can actually be. The OSCAR Water-Rescue Training Dummy™ from Emerald Marine Products is used by safety instructors across North America for teaching people what it’s like to retrieve a lifeless, 180 lb. adult.

“It’s definitely eye-opening,” says Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) instructor and US Coast Guard civilian commercial fishing vessel safety examiner Steve Kee. “It drives the point home that it’s not easy to yank a crewmember back on board.”

US Code of Federal Regulations 28.270 calls for those in charge of a commercial fishing vessel to conduct monthly safety drills to ensure everyone is familiar with their duties, including recovering someone from the water. Kee provides the 10- and 18-hour USCG-accepted drill conductor training to those who will oversee the monthly training sessions.

Atlantic Beach Rescue department chief Jonathan Kohan agrees. “From a command and control perspective, you want to train like you operate. It’s hard to put rescuers in real time situations when they haven’t trained in critical mass. It’s very different than lifting a straw or Styrofoam dummy.”

Situated on a barrier island, the small community of Atlantic Beach, New York, swells in the summer months to 15,000 people. Atlantic Beach Rescue is a first response agency with 38 volunteer rescuers. Its technical water team trains year-round.

OSCAR is a set of rugged vinyl bladders that when filled with fresh or seawater, realistically mimic the size, weight and jointed handling characteristics of a 6′, 180 lb. adult. Fitted with a PFD or immersion suit, it imitates a lifeless MOB victim in every way. After use, it is drained and weighs a mere 35 lbs. It can even be disassembled for easy transport. A video is at bit.ly/2h3AVEY.

Emerald Marine Products’ OSCAR Water Rescue Training Dummy comes with a one-year warranty on parts and labor, and costs $699.