United States Maritime Service Training Manual, Preliminary Training, 1943, was created during the peak of US emergency growth in the merchant marine. As the Liberty and later Victory ships flowed out of the shipyards, this was one of the simplified manuals used to help farmers to become seamen.

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Richard Pekelney


US Martime Service Logo
United States Maritime Service
Training Manual

Preliminary Training
Table of Contents

  Oversize lifeboat stowage PAGE 26
  The Body PAGE 77
  Wounds and Hemorrage PAGE 84
  Shock PAGE 86
  Burns PAGE 88
  Unconsciousness PAGE 90
  Poisons PAGE 92
  Artificial Respiration PAGE 94
  Fractures PAGE 96
  Dislocations, Sprains and Strains PAGE 103
  Dental First Aid PAGE 105
  Other Cases PAGE 106
  General Hygiene PAGE 107
  Treatment of Shipwreck Survivors PAGE 108
  The Prevention of Venereal Disease PAGE 112

Ship's Officer-Gold (Worn on Lapel)
Crew Member-Silver (Worn on Lapel)


Our merchant seamen must face the enemy from surface warcraft, submarines, and the air. When their ships are attacked they must fight back. Such great deeds of heroism under these trying conditions are performed by our merchant seamen that our government has created the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal as a visible award for such heroism. Winners of this medal can be recognized by the wearing of the Lapel Button shown above the medal.



Survivors of torpedoed ships are presented with this ribbon and star upon recovery. Some seamen wear more than one star. Each star represents an additional sinking that has been survived. Some seamen wear as many as seven stars, indicating their survival of as many ships lost in enemy action.

In color, the ribbon is light blue on top and dark blue on the bottom with a red band running through the center. The blues symbolize the sky and sea respectively and the red denotes action.




The design and equipment of lifeboats for merchant vessels has been given careful study by the leading maritime nations. The similarity of the practices endorsed for vessels of all nations is evidence of the general uniformity of lifesaving requirements. Every consideration was given by all vessels and boat establishments to the immediate rescue and welfare of shipwrecked passengers and crews.

Wartime conditions require additional equipment, especially adapted to aid shipwrecked men to survive. For instance, means of attracting the attention of rescue vessels and aircraft are needed and have been provided. Again it is the pooled knowledge of the nations at war that underlies the requirements for this emergency equipment. Most especially, these additional items have been added largely as the result of the experiences of hundreds of survivors. The practical value of these wartime additions has been judged by the men who depend on them for their lives.

Before it is passed by the government inspectors, the lifeboat you will find on your ship must meet rigid requirements. To continue to meet these requirements it must be stripped, cleaned, thoroughly over-hauled, and painted at least once a year. It is designed to meet every emergency that can be seen beforehand. But you must give the boat attention that will match what has gone into it.

It is not enough to know the equipment your lifeboat carries and where it is stowed. It is just as important to know how and when and why these materials are used. That is what all the lifeboat requirements and regulations mean: the efficient and seaman-like launching of the lifeboat and the safe conduct of the boat and its

  crew to a friendly shore. This means that the crew of such a lifeboat must reach that shore with all hands in good physical and mental condition. It is a difficult task, but not an impossible one.

Every man in the crew must know all there is to know about a lifeboat. Your understanding of the upkeep and maintenance of a lifeboat, the use of equipment, launching and handling in a seaway, the discipline required, the simple elements of navigation, for on these elements may depend the saving of lives, possibly your own. If every man on a merchant ship sets out to get this understanding and adds to it the cool and deliberate thinking of good sound seamanship, he will survive to sail again.


Every man on board must be thoroughly familiar with the use and purpose of all safety equipment. He should be able to row. He should be familiar with the procedure for lowering boats and launching rafts. He should be proficient in quickly donning a lifesaving suit.

The most common of all recommendations made by merchant seamen who have been victims of enemy attack has been the necessity of repeated lifeboat drills, and, these days, drills of the emergency type are frequently held. The problem of getting lifeboats and rafts away from a ship which is sinking rapidly can be solved successfully only if each man has been thoroughly instructed and trained for the job of getting the boats and rafts into the water. The effectiveness of handling lifesaving equipment depends on the speed and ease with which such equipment can be utilized. This speed and




This modern lifeboat was built for heavy duty. It is shown with complete equipment including red sails, canvas hood and spray curtain. Much effort has gone into the design and building of lifeboats. It is your job to know your boat well. Some day it may save your life.

ease is developed by drills which duplicate emergency conditions.

During a drill, full cooperation between all hands is necessary if the drill is to be a real preparation for some possible future emergency. Each man must have confidence in himself and in the seamanship of the master and the ship's officers. Find out who is in command of your lifeboat, who is second in command. Strict attention must be given to orders. These orders must be understood and carried out just as promptly as if disaster conditions were actually at hand. At some future date a crew may survive because of the skill and speed with which

  you respond to a command. Respond rapidly.

Before and during drills, attend to every small detail that will add to the efficiency of the drill. Know the location and use of each individual piece of equipment. Give consideration to the possibilities of each special situation, for it is here that vital seconds may one day be lost. Take every advantage of the drill to test the boat and yourself.

Remember that the experience you gain from the lifeboat drill will loom large in your lifesaving equipment.

Begin gathering that experience as soon as you board ship. At the earliest possible moment


make it your business to investigate the station bills and muster lists, which are posted in the crew's quarters and in conspicuous places on every freighter, tanker, and troopship.

On the station bill, usually posted in the mess-room, you will find full particulars of the signals -which will be used to call all members of the crew to their emergency duty stations. Also you will find the special duties assigned to each man.

To find out your station and duties, you must know your number on the articles. You will be listed on the station bill by number-not by

  name. If you signed on as an ordinary seaman, and your signature was written on the No. 17 line of the articles, then for the duration of the trip you are O. S. No. 17. In the first column on the station bill find your number: No. 17 is listed as an ordinary seaman whose boat station is in the No. 1 boat, and whose abandon ship duty is to lead out and attend the painter.

Read the station bill from top to bottom and word for word. Since, in addition to your boat station and duties, you will also have fire and battle stations and a number of signals to remember, copy down what you are to do. Keep


Lives may depend on seconds in getting away from a crippled ship. Thus everything must be kept ready and in first class condition.

Notice the lifelines (at least four in number) on the spans between davit heads. They are knotted at short intervals to facilitate climbing down.

Ladders and nets can be dropped to the waterline by simply pulling a toggle.


this listing of your duties in your pocket or over your bunk so that you will be absolutely certain where to go and when.

Inspect the lifesaving equipment that will be issued to you. Make certain that nothing is missing or damaged. Try on your rubber suit, and then and there make up your mind that you will practice putting it on until you can do it on a blacked-out boat deck in a matter of seconds. Check your red light to make sure that the battery and light are strong. Try the whistle. See that the blade of the knife is sharp. Go over your lifejacket to see that the seams are firm. Finally, pick a spot in your quarters to place this gear so that when you do take it off it will be right at hand.

Now, let us assume that the signal for a lifeboat drill has been given. Put on your lifejacket and go to your station at once. If you have made certain of your duties and checked your personal gear, you are ready for the drill.

In a time of trouble you may have to take care of not only your own duties, but also the duties of an injured or missing shipmate. Keep your eyes open during the drill so that, if the occasion arises, you will be able to perform any of the duties connected with swinging out and lowering the boat.

Consider the lifeboat drill to be just what the words mean: practice for getting you into the boat that will save your life. Your life is valuable. So is the drill.

At sea, panic has taken more victims than torpedoes. Panic is largely the result of ignorance. Each lifeboat drill will help to cut down this ignorance, and the better your drills the better are your chances.

Remember-"More drills, more survivors."


When the boat falls are unhooked, a piece of rope yarn should be tied around each fall near the block. This will prevent the swinging block from turning over, causing twists which are difficult to take out.

With the boats swung outboard, the hooks on the weather-side boats should be moused at the first evidence of heavy weather. Heavy seas have unhooked many boats, which have either been lost or found hanging precariously by the frapping line.

The rolling of the ship or heavy seas striking the lifeboat may cause the ring securing the pelican hook to work loose. To prevent this, a turn should be taken with a single strand of

  rope yarn around the ring and the frapping line and tied with a slip knot.

Old-type freight ships have not been provided with adequate fair-leads for hoisting lifeboats with the winches. Care must be taken, therefore, in choosing your fair-leads. Never secure


the snatch-block strap around a ventilator, boat deck rail, ladder rail or stanchion. Deck pad-eyes should be used whenever possible.

In taking the boat fall to the winch, it may be necessary to use inside turns on the niggerhead to provide an adequate lead. To take inside turns, lay the fall across the niggerhead, with sufficient slack forward. Now bring the slack under and then over the niggerhead, taking three or four turns. The free part in your hands will now lead from inboard on the niggerhead.

In two-blocking a boat fall or hoisting a boat by manpower to clear the chocks or to put the swung-out boat in its proper position against the boom, the man taking up the slack usually loses a little when making fast. This often makes it necessary for the men to bear down again. To prevent slacking off, keep a strain, slide one hand down to the cruciform bitt, and press the fall against the arm of the bitt with the heel of your hand, while you take the turn with the other hand.


LAUNCHING A BOAT The crew is mustered, every man with life preserver properly adjusted. The boat cover and strongback are removed. The net and the ladder are lowered over the side. One bow and one stroke oarsman get into the boat and see that the plug is in or that the automatic bailer is free. Check to see that the life lines are free, and that the painter has been led well forward of everything, with the slack taken up. Let go the gripes-the outboard gripes first-and the boat chocks. Remove the reel covers and belay the falls.

Slack the davit guys and swing the boat out; set the davit guys taut and belay. Have the stroke oarsman ship the rudder or place the steering oar in readiness. Three or four men are all you need in the boat while lowering. Have two men at each fall, one to see that the fall is kept clear and one to lower. Lower away on both falls evenly. Have the bow and stroke

  oarsman ready with boathooks to fend off from the side of the vessel. Trip the releasing gear as soon as the boat is waterborne. Have the remainder of the boat's crew and the passengers come aboard by the nets.

Shove the bow of the boat off, getting the boat under way by hauling in on the painter. Begin rowing, under the following orders: "Let go painter;" "Stand by oars;" "Out oars;" "Give way together."

Remember that in rowing you are facing the stern. You will be apt to forget that port is on your right and starboard on your left. It often happens that when the order is given, "Give way port; hold water starboard," the men do just the opposite.

Most lifeboats during rowing drills look like many-legged centipedes, due to the fact that a rhythmic stroke is not maintained. The blame can often be placed on a lazy or unskilled stroke oarsman. You cannot be expected to row well if the stroke oarsman is catching crabs, missing


strokes, and fouling the blade behind him. Ask the coxswain or officer in command either to replace the man or have him attend to his work. A well-rowed boat shoots through the water, and a thrumming noise issues from the oars, yielding a sense of timing.

If the boat is under radial davits, guy the

Such gripes may be made of sisal or webbing.
Such gripes may be made of sisal or webbing.

boat out as described above. If it is under quadrantal davits, crank the boat out. It if is under gravity davits, place one hand on the lever, and, raising it slowly and keeping the boat well under control, permit the boat to move down the runway, controlling it by frapping lines.


The vessel should be maneuvered in such a position as to reduce its motion, and to offer as good a lee as possible for the boat to be

  launched. Some vessels are better in the trough, some with the sea on the bow, and some with a quartering sea. With proper care, a well-drilled crew can launch a boat under the most adverse conditions.

If the boat is not fitted with skates, have mattresses, or two strongbacks, or a pair of oars


slung up and down the side. Before lowering, a barrel of oil should be used over the vessel's side so that the oil will keep spreading. If the vessel is pitching, keep the boat from swaying by drawing the painter taut and by using a stern painter-the painter secured to the after part-in the same manner. If the vessel is rolling, the boat should be kept from excessive swinging by taking a bight around each fall with a frapping line until ready to lower.

When ready, let go the frapping lines and lower away smartly. With care, jerking can be reduced to a minimum. As soon as the boat is waterborne, trip the releasing gear, if so equipped. Immediately sheer the boat off from the side of the vessel by using the steering oar and hauling in on the sea painter.





At the alarm of "Man overboard !" the emergency squad should swing out a boat on the designated or lee side, and follow as rapidly as possible the regular abandon-ship procedure.

One man at least must keep watch on the person overboard.

If storm oil is necessary, one man should be detailed.

A life buoy with an electric water light should be thrown immediately toward the man overboard.

Heaving lines should be ready to pass the sea painter to the returning boat.

The rescue crew should row to leeward of the man and have him grab the end of an oar. Or it should pass a line to him and pull him toward the boat. But the crew should not try to approach too close to him because the boat might strike, injure, or ultimately drown the man.


Today, when merchant vessels sail under wartime conditions, every possible consideration has been given to the lifeboat and its equipment. Many items of so-called "E" (emergency) equipment have been added, the nature and use of which will be discussed under subsequent headings. This "E" equipment is the very best available, and, as in all lifeboat gear it must meet the highest government standards.

The new equipment takes up much valuable space in the lifeboat. (Study the stowage sheets in this manual.) It is necessary for you to exercise great care in stowing all lifeboat accessories. Stow each item so as to interfere as little as possible with the boat's crew. Be sure that it is reasonably protected from damage, yet available for immediate use.

  All lifeboats must carry the following equipment:

Bailer-1 bailer of sufficient size, with lanyard attached.

Bilge Pump-This pump is to be permanently located in a suitable position in the boat. A foot valve is located on the suction side of the pump. The pump is fitted with a flexible drop hose at least six feet in length. All sections are fitted with strainers.

On tank vessels a special type of pump with a direct sea suction is required, of a type which can be pressed into service by turning a simple valve. Streams of water are to be sprayed or squirted over the boats and the occupants while operating the pump. This arrangement will enable survivors to keep the boat wetted down if it is necessary to pass through burning oil. This type of pump requires priming before it is used. This is done by locking the cap or plug


on the discharge side of the pump, and pouring about one quart of water into the chamber. The cap or plug should be replaced before putting the pump into operation.

Blankets-At least six woolen blankets are required to be carried. These blankets are for the use of sick and injured, and for the use of the members of the crew who have little or no protective clothing. It is desirable to stow blankets, in bags of two, in waterproof wraps.

Lifesaving suits which protect men from exposure and keep their clothing dry are provided. This is a most essential factor in survival. Warm clothing is worn by seamen when navigating the colder climates. Insofar as possible, every seaman should be fully clothed at all times, especially during drills. This applies even


in the warmer latitudes, as protection against exposure and the sun.

Boat Hooks-2 boat hooks must be provided. They should be stowed in the boat so as to be readily available.


Bucket-1 galvanized iron bucket of two-gallon capacity, with lanyard attached. In large lifeboats additional buckets will be found useful.

Canvas Hood and Side Spray Curtain-A canvas hood and side spray curtain provides shelter to the occupants of the boat. The canvas hood extends from the stem to the mast. The side spray curtain extends from the after side of the canvas hood to the after part and extends a foot above the guide. It is held in place by rods installed in rowlock sockets.

Chart-A current pilot chart of the water navigated must be provided in a metal container. Pencils and protractors are also very useful for problems of lifeboat navigation.

Compass-1 liquid compass which, when in use, should be kept as high as possible and on the center line away from the keel and hull of the boat.

Daytime Distress Signals-4 smoke signals are required. These signals are designed to give a large volume Of orange or red colored smoke, which is very effective in attracting the attention of aircraft. These smoke signals should be thrown overboard to leeward.

Distress Lights-12 self-igniting distress lights which are to be carried in a watertight metal case. When ignited, the light should be held in a position to the lee side in order to prevent burning particles from falling on persons in the lifeboat.

Flares can be lashed to a boat hook or an oar in order to hold them higher in the air and away from the boat's pump. The greater height at which it is held, the greater is the distance at which it will be visible.

Ditty Bag-1 canvas bag containing sail maker's palm, needles, sail twine, marline and marlinespike.

Drinking Cups-A total of 3 drinking cups, 2 of which shall be of the well-bucket type, to which a chain or lanyard shall be attached. This permits the cup to be dropped into the drinking water tanks.

Drinking Water Containers-Drinking water shall be stowed in four separate tanks. These

  tanks shall carry a total of at least ten quarts of water per person in the boat.

Additional Liquids-When space in the lifeboat permits, additional liquids are recommended in the form of canned tomato juice, or canned unsweetened citrus fruit juices. Juices are superior to food, when it is possible to carry them to augment the provisions and water required by the regulations.

First Aid Kit-1 first aid kit to be packed in a metal container which shall include the following items:

Adhesive compresses
Ammonia inhalant
Scissors (blunt)
Gauze compresses
Tannic acid jelly
Eye pads
Iodine bandage compresses
Rectangular bandages
Gauze bandages
Splint wire and safety pin


Fishing Kit-Each lifeboat shall carry a fishing kit to be opened only for actual emergency use. It consists of the following items:

Cotton gloves
Sinker's bait
Abrasive stone
Dip net
Fishing rig
Bib and instructions

Flashlight-1 flashlight to be contained in a portable watertight metal case. 1 extra lamp and 3 extra flashlight batteries in a waterproof bag. Watertight flashlights are now being developed for marine use and will be available shortly.

Grab Rails-Grab rails shall be attached to each lifeboat and shall extend two-thirds of the length of the boat. This regulation provides means for clinging to an overturned boat as


well as making a grip with which to exert a turning effort in righting the boat. The righting of an overturned lifeboat is not difficult to accomplish. All that is required is a group of men taking a constant strain on the girth lines, and at the same time taking advantage of the wind and the sea.


Attachments-2 galvanized cups attached by lanyards at each end of the boat.

Illuminating Oil-1 gallon of illuminating oil in a metal container.

Lantern-1 lantern containing oil and ready for immediate use, and 2 additional lamp wicks and waterproof container. In no case should lanterns be carried in buckets. Lanterns should be stowed in the gear locker or stowed under thwarts.

Life Line-A life line properly secured the entire length of each side festooned in lights with a seine float in each light.

Life Preservers-2 life preservers. These life preservers are in addition to the vessel's equipment of life preservers.

The manila line which is provided by these regulations as part of the emergency equipment of such lifeboats could be used as a heaving line by making it fast to the preserver in such a way that it may be tossed to a man in the water. In several instances men were lost who could have been saved had their shipmates remembered to use this equipment.

Locker-Suitable lockers for the storage and preservation of small items of equipment. These lockers should be securely attached to the inside of the boat to prevent the ship's content coming adrift in the event the boat is swamped or capsized. It is recommended that the following items of equipment be stowed in the locker:

Circular flag
Ditty bag
Bullet plugs
Signal mirrors
Drinking cups
First aid kit-extra wicks and fishing kit

Manila Line-30 fathoms of fifteen-thread Manila line, preferably tarred.

Mast and Sails-A mast or masts with which men sail and at suitable jib with gear for boat. The sails and gear are to be protected by a

  canvas cover. All sails are to be painted red or chrome yellow in color for the purpose of increasing their visibility on the water and from the air. Each mast should be fitted out with one fore stay and 2 side or back stays, preferably of wire.

Matches-3 boxes of friction matches in watertight containers.

Oars-A complete complement of oars-2 oars and a steering oar with rowlock. Motor lifeboats and lifeboats fitted with propellers operated by hand shall be equipped with 4 oars and for steering, 1 oar.

A steering oar should be painted with a distinctive coloring to prevent confusion when the oars are stowed.

Painters-1 painter of Manila rope secured in the forward part of the boat with a strop and toggle so that it may be rigged as a sea painter and may be readily released from the boat.

1 additional painter to be secured to the stem and coiled in the boat ready for use.

Rig of Painter Under Wartime Conditions-Under peacetime conditions the boat's crew and the ship's officers can maneuver the ship, watch the sea, and await the most favorable opportunity for placing the boat on the water. The ship has no list nor is there the unavoidable confusion and noise attendant with the sinking and shifting of a vessel which has been torpedoed and is perhaps being shelled. It is desired, therefore, to point out that in order to prevent the sea painter from causing the boat to sheer and yaw after it is on the water and the survivors are coming down the lifesaving net, over life lines, or down the falls on the boat, certain precautions are necessary. Unless some means are provided to direct the pull exerted on the sea painter by the vessel's ahead motion to a point far enough forward in the lifeboat to decrease the tendency to sheer, serious accidents will occur. This is particularly true when the vessel is listed and the sea is moderately rough or choppy. To retain better control of the boat many masters and mates have fitted a strop of manila near the stem which can be passed over the sea painter and the free end passed under a thwart. Between the time the boat hits the water and the instant that all are on board and it is decided to cast off, the strap being pulled taut will more properly tow the boat parallel with the vessel's side. When the officer in charge is ready to pull away, the strap can be quickly released, the end thrown free, the boat then sheering away when the strain


Painter to be made fast well forward, outboard and clear of all obstructions (stantions, etc.)
comes directly on a sea painter at the point where it is fast to the forward thwart. This tendency to sheer can and should, of course, be regulated by the use of the rudder or steering oar. These precautions should be carefully explained to all officers and men and they should be drilled in its use. Unless this is done, a repetition of serious accidents to boats (after they are apparently safe over the side), with a consequent loss of life, may be expected.

Plugs-Each lifeboat shall be fitted with an automatic plug. Drill holes fitted with automatic plugs shall be provided with 2 caps attached by chains.

Propeller (Hand-Operated)-All lifeboats having a capacity of sixty or more shall be fitted with a hand-operated propeller.

Provisions-The following provisions should be provided for each person the boat is certified to carry:

14 ounces of biscuits
14 ounces of pemican
14 ounces of milk tablets
14 ounces of chocolate tablets

These provisions shall be stowed in airtight receptacles.

The packing of provisions in lifeboats should be done in a careful manner. Rectangular

  packages which are waterproof are better in that they stow more compactly.

The amount of food rationed daily is governed by the officer-in-charge, taking into consideration the actual number of persons in the boat and the probable length of voyage.

Food should be eaten slowly and chewed thoroughly. Emergency rations will serve that purpose better if taken several times a day in small quantities rather than serving at one meal in a larger quantity.

Rowlocks-1 1/2 sets thole pins or rowlocks attached to the lifeboat by separate chains.

Rudder and Tiller-1 rudder and tiller to be fitted to the rudder.

Sea Anchor-A sea anchor of a circular pattern, the tip of which shall be arranged for securing a conical-shaped storm oil container.

When using riding lines care should be taken that chafing will not take place where lining passes over the gunwale. Where chafing is likely to take place the riding line should be well wrapped with canvas. It should be noted that in an emergency a bucket may be used as a sea anchor or drag. In the use of storm oil the flow can be regulated. Flow can he controlled by adjusting the opening of the pet cock.


Signal Flag-1 yellow or bright orange flag to be used to attract aircraft. Signal flags should be provided with ties in order that they may be properly attached to a boathook or staff.

It has been found that orange-colored objects are more visible on the water than any other color. The inclusion of a signal flag has been found necessary in order to provide an object of high visibility that may be displayed-when friendly aircraft are sighted in order that the airmen may be able to see the lifeboat. Triced up to the mast it also serves a similar purpose for look-outs on passing vessels. In displaying the flag to be observed by airmen, the best method is for two men to hold each end of the flag and stretch it out taut and then move the short axis from a vertical to a horizontal position in order to give a flash of color which may attract the observer's eye.


Signal Mirrors-2 stainless steel mirrors coated with grease and wrapped in a watertight container. In order to use the signal mirrors most effectively, all seamen should familiarize themselves thoroughly with sighting instructions and technique. Unless this method of aiming the mirror is used, the chances of the flash being seen by aircraft or ships are extremely remote.

Signal Pistol-Each lifeboat is required to carry a signal pistol consisting of pistol with lanyard attached and 12 parachute signal cartridges. This equipment is to be contained in a portable watertight metal case.

Should friendly air or surface craft appear during the daytime, it may be desirable to fire a parachute flare from the signal pistol, as the smoke emitted, or the light may be sufficient to attract attention.

  Storm Oil-1 container holding one gallon of oil and so designed that it can be attached to the sea anchor.

Bullet Hole Plugs-25 or more soft wood plugs contained in a canvas bag.


Two or three pounds of rags should be placed in the locker or other suitable place for use in connection with plugs.

Supplementary repair equipment may be carried at the discretion of the Master.


1. Observer should face a point about halfway between the sun and the observed object.

2. Hold the mirror in one hand about four inches from the face and sight the object to be signaled.

3. Hold the other hand about twelve inches behind the mirror in line with the sun and the hole through the mirror, so that a small spot of light appears on the hand. The small spot of light on the hand is reflected on the back face of the mirror (side toward the observer).

4. Now tilt the mirror so that the spot of light on the back face of the mirror disappears through the hole in the mirror, at the same time keeping the observed object sighted through the hole in the mirror. With the mirror in this position the light rays from the sun will be reflected to the observed object.

Note: When the angle between the sun and the observed object is small, the spot of light will appear on the face of the observer, thus allowing both hands to be used in tilting the mirror.


There shall be available and readily accessible (other than in a lifeboat) on board mechanically propelled vessels of over one thousand gross tons for use in lifeboats at least one portable


radio installation, or in place thereof there shall be located in at least one lifeboat on each side of the vessel at all times while at sea a radio installation (in portable form or permanently installed).

The portable radio should be stowed in a safe and accessible location designated by the Master. More than one man should be chosen to take care of getting the radio away and into the boat in an emergency. Do not use this radio in a lifeboat until sufficient time has elapsed to allow a submarine to proceed a reasonable distance from the scene of action.

The efficiency of the transmitter depends on the proper erection of the antenna with the portable topmast provided. If portable masts are not provided a boathook or oar should be lashed to the top of the mast to secure additional height.

A boathook or oar erected in the afterend of the boat, to serve as a short after mast to which


When fully packed the abandon ship kit is sufficiently buoyant to support a man in the water. The color of the kit is bright yellow with a large red cross at each end. When the abandon ship kit fastener is closed it is airtight as well as watertight.

the antenna can be attached, will further improve efficiency and keep the antenna up out of the way. Insulated wire is used for eliminating the possibility of any shock to the boat's crew, in case the antenna is accidentally touched while transmission is going on.


All vessels of three thousand gross tons or over shall carry at least two abandon-ship kits. The articles in the kit shall be packed in a compact manner in a watertight container, with a

  seal over the opening. The kit shall be fitted with a shoulder-carrying strap, and it shall be buoyant. It shall be prominently marked and the outside color shall be orange or chrome yellow.

There shall be included in each kit:

20 one-quarter-grain syrettes of morphine.
48 one-half grain tablets of sulfadiazine in bottle.
10 Navy-type watertight packages containing two and one-half grams crystalline sulfanilamide.
4 ounces of approved oil-cleansing solution in bottle having a screw cap.
5 four-ounce tubes of five percent sulfadiazinetannic acid ten percent jelly.
2 chemical heating pads of approved type.

There shall also be included in each kit three copies of instructions.

Abandon-ship kits shall be stowed in separate locations as designated by the Master.


All vessels of one thousand gross tons or over shall have fitted over projections and openings in way of the lifeboats, between the boat deck and the light load line, strong vertical skids constructed of wood or other suitable material. This is to insure the unobstructed passage to the water of the lifeboats when lowered from the high side of the vessel that is heavily listed.

Lifeboats on all vessels, which are fitted with mechanical means for lowering, shall be equipped with approved vertical fenders or skates on the inboard side extending from the gunwale well under the turn of the bilge. This is to facilitate launching on the high side of a listed vessel.

Such fenders are to be sufficient in number to prevent damage to the boats while being lowered. Fenders or skates are to be designed so as to be light in weight and shall be so fitted as to be easily detached after the lifeboat is afloat. If wooden fenders are fitted they shall be made of the best grade of oak. Spaces in the way of open decks below stowage positions of lifeboats into which boats might swing are to be fitted with strong horizontal bars. These bars should be secured between deck stanchions outboard in order that the boat may descend smoothly on the fenders or skates to the water.


On all vessels of over one thousand gross tons there shall be provided for each set of davits a lifesaving net or nets at least ten feet wide, to reach from the rail to the light load line.


Steel nets shall be made in sections having a width of five feet.

Bear in mind that the purpose of a net is to provide ready means of getting up or down the


Note embarkation ladders that permit rapid and safe descent to lifeboat.

side of the ship. Therefore, it will serve its purpose best if fitted with blocks or spreaders. These will keep the mesh spread and hold it away from the hull a sufficient distance to allow easy climbing.

The ladders provided by these regulations are required to be rigged from the deck in order to insure that means will be provided for the men who are lowering to leave the vessel. The lifesaving net required for each set of davits should be rigged in such a position that it will roll down to where the returning boat will come alongside. It should be rolled up on the outside. Be sure it is lashed so that it may be readily let go with one release line. Tapered wooden toggle pins fitted to straps or other slipknot arrangements may be used.

At lifeboat drills nets and ladders should be released, and the crew should practice climbing on them. It is only in this way that the best arrangement and location of all this equipment can be determined.

It is desirable to weight the bottom of the net, but in this connection care should be taken that the weight fitted will not be likely to damage the boat. Wooden four-by-fours have been found satisfactory.

The best method of rigging lifesaving nets is to rig them from the boat deck in such manner that they can be rolled up when not in use. The

  nets should be rigged so they can be tripped to unroll over the side at the same time that the boat gripes are released. This arrangement should be simple and foolproof.


Cargo vessels and tank ships shall be provided with suitable ladders to enable persons to descend to lifeboats and rafts, one ladder to be provided for each set of boat davits.

Such ladders should have flat treads. The treads of ladders should be kept free from oil and grease, and roughened by the addition of ridges or other types of safety tread.


Cargo or tank vessels of over one thousand gross tons shall be provided with one lifesaving suit for each person on board.

The life suit should always either be worn or placed near at hand. When not worn, keep it in the "made-ready position," that is, roll it down over the boots so you can step into it easily. The deck crew should wear the suit rolled down to the waist while on duty. The engine crew should have it near, for instance, in the engine passage or on the boat deck in the "made-ready position." If you do not wear the suit while sleeping, keep it close at hand.

Wear the kapok jacket, approved for use with your type of suit, at all times when outside inland waters. The clothing worn inside the suit should be as warm as practicable when traveling in winter or in cold latitudes. Each type of approved suit has individual characteristics and you should become acquainted with these in order that the suit may serve more effectively.

When wearing the suit in the water, keep your arms and legs in motion as much as possible. The motion will aid blood circulation and keep the air circulating within the suit. If you want to decrease the water pressure on the body, kick the legs up so as to float horizontally. If you have to stay in the water for a long period, lift your arms high up to aid blood circulation.

It is very difficult to make any sort of coverall suit absolutely watertight around the neck. An effective method of keeping out water is to wrap a medium-sized bath towel or the like around the neck. Loosely fasten the towel in the back of the suit at the neck level. Should the suit become flooded by leakage or a puncture, the kapok life preserver worn with it will keep you afloat.




Practice getting into your suit frequently. Do it in the dark and in confined spaces.
Many wise seamen wear their suits at all times with the upper section tucked in and lashed about the waist.
Notice light (red), knife and whistle attached to suit. Check this gear on your suit constantly.

When you are not using the suit, store it away from oil and grease, steam pipes, and heated locations such as the fidley and steering engine room.

Bear in mind that lifesaving suits are made of rubber. They are not easily replaced if damaged. Take care of your suit. A kit of repair material similar to that used for repairing automobile inner tubes should be carried on vessels provided with lifesaving suits. If the suit is wet, do not put it away before you wipe it off. If available, sprinkle the suit with a good grade of talcum powder, which will preserve the rubber.

  The chief purpose of a lifesaving suit is to keep you dry if you have to go overboard into the water. Preventing your clothing and body from getting wet will keep the body temperature higher and consequently allow you a longer survival time if you cannot get onto a raft or into a lifeboat.

Your lifesaving suit will protect you from exposure. In the colder latitudes and during the winter months make every effort to get into your suit and help your shipmates don theirs before getting into the boats. If you lack time to do this, take the suit into your boat or onto the raft, and put it on when you are able.




1. Life vest should be drawn close.
2. Insert feet in legs of suit. Hold top rolled down.
3. Pull suit up as far as possible-bend slightly forward.
4. Insert one arm in sleeve normally. Second arm elbow first.
5. Grasp ropes and slide up to chin.
Tighten ankle and wrist straps.
Squat to press air out of suit.
Remember-Stow your suit in a cool dry place. Fold it properly to prevent cracking.
Keep it away from steam lines, oil and grease.
These suits are hard to replace-take care of them.



On all vessels of over one thousand gross tons each person on board shall be provided with a police whistle and a sailor's jackknife. Such knives and whistles shall be attached to life jackets or lifesaving suits.

A sharp jackknife has proved to be a most useful article for all crew members during wartime. The practicability of a knife to a seaman does not have to be explained to the men on deck. Persons of other ratings who do not habitually or by choice carry a knife will, it is hoped, by the provision of the above regulation, realize its value. Keep your knife sharp so it will serve its purpose without delay should you have to cut lashings or free lines. A lanyard attached to the shackle should be fastened to your person so that even if the knife is dropped, due to cold hands or darkness, it will not be lost.

A police whistle of substantial plastic material is the best and most practicable sound-producing device for you to carry. Whistles have already proved their value in locating men in the water during periods of poor visibility night or day. The knife and police whistle should be carried on your person when outside of inland waters.



A life-preserver light is provided for each person which, when turned on, shows a red light. Attach the light to your life preserver. If necessary it can be readily transferred to your lifesaving suit.

Red light is used to distinguish men from rafts and floats, which show a white light. Men will not then be swimming toward each other. Life-preserver lights should be worn with the preserver at all times when practicable. According to British and Norwegian experience, the use of life-preserver lights has probably saved more men's lives than any other individual piece of specialized lifesaving equipment. Be sure you have your light at all times and that it is in good condition.

Every member of the crew should appear for drills wearing his life-preserver light attached properly to the life jacket. The light should be worn high so that it will be out of the water when the wearer is afloat, in order that the maximum visibility may be obtained.

To provide replacements for damaged or lost lights, it is recommended that spares to the amount of about ten percent be carried on board.


Extra batteries should, of course, be on hand, particularly if a vessel is engaged in long voyages.


It is important for you to know that all calcium-type self-igniting water lights must be removed from all ocean and coastwise vessels and replaced with approved electric water lights.

Calcium-type water lights have proved to be a hazard during wartime, inasmuch as they cause serious fires by igniting oil sprayed on the ship or floating on the water. Therefore, they should be removed as soon as possible, even though electric water lights may not be immediately available to replace them.


All cargo vessels and tank ships of three thousand gross tons or over and all passenger vessels shall be provided with interior marking in the accommodation, machinery, and working spaces of the vessels in the form of approved luminous cloth or tape that shall clearly show in darkness the location of exit doors, ports, ladders, companionways, and the location of emergency lights, control valves, and similar vital locations or accessories.

Markings of vessels should be periodically tested by blacking out area in order that all on board may familiarize themselves with what luminous material looks like in the dark, as well as directions indicated and exit marks shown.


On vessels of one thousand tons or over there shall be provided self-contained, battery-operated emergency lights of an approved type, at least twelve in number, located throughout the vessel in readily accessible locations and plainly marked. These lights shall be portable and shall be readily removable.

When a ship is torpedoed or strikes a mine, it often happens that the lights go out immediately. In such cases, light is immediately necessary to enable the ship's personnel to take effective measures to carry on with the work of attempting to save the ship or abandon it. While some types of lights have been approved after showing their suitability for rugged work, there is available an approved type of light, which, through a simple but certain mechanism, assures that it will operate immediately upon

  the failure of a ship's current. Lights of this type, distributed about the ship and plugged into the lighting circuits, provide a fairly positive means of emergency lighting without further dependence upon personnel to locate and operate lights. The fact that the lights are quickly in operation, at such a time, actually provides a light for the personnel to reach their locations, remove them, and utilize them as is necessary.


For use during blackouts, caps for flashlights may be made from metal or cardboard in order to provide a small round light beam about one quarter inch in diameter. Alternatively the glass may be painted over, leaving a slip or small round clear area, or a strip of blue bunting may be tied over the glass.


On vessels of one thousand gross tons or over, at least two wire or chain ladders (one on each side) leading directly to the highest part of the engine-room casing are provided and arranged in a way most likely to allow the escape of engine-room personnel in the event of damage to the fixed ladders and gratings. On steam vessels a similar ladder is provided in the fire-room running through the ventilator. Such ladders are not to be hauled taut. They shall be lashed loosely at the floor plates.

In many cases fixed ladders and gratings are torn loose by a torpedo or mine to such an extent that their use as a means of escape from the engine or fireroom is impossible. For this reason the above ladders constructed of wire rope or chain are provided. They are purposely left slack to allow enough give so that the concussion will not snap them.

Where ladders lead to the engine-room skylight and come up under the screen provided for anti-sabotage purposes, a portion of the screen in the form of a hatchway or other section should be made removable from below. The location and arrangement of such ladders should be given careful thought in order that they may most effectively serve their purpose should the need arise.

Ladders fitted in ventilators in the fireroom may necessitate similar attention to the screen in or near the cowl in order to make it removable by any person coming up from below. Engine and fireroom personnel well know the danger


which exists from escaping steam, should it be present in quantity in the upper part of the machinery space or boiler room. Should it become apparent that escape is not feasible by the use of ladders, it should be borne in mind that the shaft alley offers the best alternative.



All vessels are to be provided with a remote-control arrangement for promptly stopping the engines. These controls are to be located on the upper deck, preferably on the boat deck, and in such position that they may be readily operated in an emergency.

The importance of taking the way off the ship before lifeboats are placed in the water cannot be too strongly emphasized. The failure to do so has cost many seamen's lives during World War I and the present conflict. Engines will roll over due to momentum and the action of the water on the propeller. But if the power is cut off, the suction under the quarter is reduced and the ship gradually slowed.


Every vessel of two thousand gross tons or over shall be degaussed in accordance with the

  requirements of the War Shipping Administration.


Every vessel at sea must maintain a complete blackout from dusk until dawn, except for the


display of running lights in such areas and under such conditions as may be directed by competent naval authority.

The strict enforcement of this regulation, except when under direct instructions from a naval escorting vessel, is most necessary. On ships which carry persons in addition to crew, such persons should, upon leaving port, be called together and most seriously cautioned concerning the use of lights on deck or in any other location which might be visible to enemy vessels.

Smoking on deck or lighting matches should not be permitted. The faintest glimmer of light is visible for a good distance by watch officers of enemy vessels. Fidley doors should be given particular attention as reflected light from the furnaces when the doors are open is often visible above the upper grating. Exhaust Venturi-type ventilators on houses also allow light to be reflected through, and should be screened.

Besides the men on watch regularly assigned to close ports and doors, every one should take


it upon himself to make sure that the blackout is enforced. When in convoy, daytime signaling should be utilized to advise vessels in company of any glimmer or glow light of the slightest




nature which was observed during the previous night.

It should be borne in mind, also, that all avoidable noise must be eliminated. Striking bells in the engine room on large gongs, the popping

  off of safety valves, or even the striking of time on the bridge may be heard a long way on a quiet night down the wind. The blowing down of the boilers should be avoided at night.


Vessels of one thousand gross tons or over must have all exterior ship's identification and distinguishing marks removed. This includes the painting out of the name and port of registry. Portable name boards may be utilized when entering and departing from port as may be required.


No baggage, such as suitcases and sea bags, is permitted in any lifeboat. The only exception to this is a small personal abandon-ship kit carried by the individual seaman.

Care should be taken that the abandon-ship kit is not overburdened.

Survivors have again and again recommended that cigarettes be set aside to take into boats. Smoking tobacco has a somewhat harmful effect in that it makes the person using it more thirsty. However, the beneficial effects are felt to outweigh the disadvantages. Cigarettes can, of course, be placed in the abandon-ship kit. They should be packed in moistureproof tins.

Aspirin and quinine should be added to the contents of the abandon-ship kit, and also chewing gum, which allays thirst.

A water-resisting money belt, either purchased or made in your spare time aboard ship, would provide a safe place for your papers and other valuables.


Lifeboat davits are of three main types, with variations of each: gravity, radial or round bar, and quadrantal. The Liberty Ship davit might be considered a variation of the old-type quadrantal davit.

With the gravity-type davits, the lifeboat is carried on two cradles, mounted on rollers, which move over two parallel tracks at right angles to the vessel's side. In operation, after dogs are released, a brake lever is raised which permits the lifeboat and the entire assembly to roll down the tracks by gravity, automatically stopping with the lifeboat suspended over the side and at the embarkation deck. Raising the lever again permits the boat to continue down until it reaches the water.


With the radial or round-bar type davits, the lifeboat is carried on chocks, under davits which may be turned around so that the top describes an arc. In operation, the davits are both turned back until the bow of the boat clears the forward davit. The forward davit is then turned out so that the bow swings out, and the same procedure follows with the after davit, so that the boat is suspended over the side. It is then lowered to the water by its falls. This type of davit must always be guyed.   With the quadrantal type davits, the lifeboat is carried on chocks under the davits. The davits themselves stand upright, with the tops curved in toward each other so that the ends come directly above the hoisting hooks of the lifeboat.

In operation, the davit, which is pivoted near the foot so that it will turn in an arc at right angles to the vessel's boat is suspended over the side. It is then lowered to the water in the usual manner by its falls.

The Liberty Ship davit is much easier to


operate than the old-type quadrantal davit. The worm-gear mechanism has been simplified, and when cranked in is not fully exposed. The crank is fitted on the side away from the boat falls, allowing free operation without interference with the fall. Fair-leads have been eliminated, the fall leading directly from the block to the cruciform bitt.



Releasing gear is installed in many lifeboats. Its purpose is to permit releasing both of the falls from the boat simultaneously as soon as the boat is water-borne, and thus to avert possible mishap.

It consists of two releasing hooks on bridles, one at each end of the boat, connected by a chain running from one end of the boat to the other. The releasing hooks are hooks which are

  hinged on pins so that they may be rotated on the pins and upset. The chain between the two hooks is led along the side of the boat through fairleaders and is equipped with an operating grip in a convenient location near the stern. It is fastened to the releasing hooks in such a manner that a strain on the chain will cause the


hooks to upset and thus free themselves from the falls.

In operation, a strain is put on the chain by pulling the operating grip as soon as the boat is water-borne, upsetting both hooks and freeing them from both falls simultaneously. Releasing hooks are also connected to a rod running along the floor of the boat, and are operated by means of a lever, functioning through universal joints, which disengages a pin at each end, releasing the hooks.

Sillouhette of a ship


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