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Helicopter operation check item - A brief guide for cargo ships

Helicopter landing on cargo ships or oil tankers involves many complexities, and careful preparation will need to be made at various stages, such as prior landing, during landing on board. These operations are commonly used on ships for crew repatriation, Pilot boarding (embarkation and disembarkation), emergency medical cases such as MEDEVAC (medical evacuation) and rescue.

Considering the nature of high-risk operations, all personnel/equipment and survival crafts need to be ready, and they demand accuracy, training, and established procedures. The officers and crew members associated with the scene for these operations should show a high level of situational awareness and good seamanship.

containerships operational matters
Oil Tanker Safety Guide
To enhance safety summarized below are some necessary procedures. These procedures are only indicative, not exhaustive, and must always be guided by practices of good seamanship

Preparation prior landing
  1. Have all loose objects within and adjacent to the operating area been secured or removed?
  2. Have all aerials, standing, or running gear above and in the vicinity been lowered or secured?
  3. Has a pennant or windsock been hoisted where it is visible to the helicopter pilot?
  4. Has the officer of the watch been consulted about the ship's readiness?
  5. Does the leader of the deck party have a portable radio transceiver (walkie talkie) for communicating with the bridge?
  6. Are the fire pumps running and is there adequate pressure on the deck fire line?
  7. Are fire hoses ready (hoses should be near to, but clear of, the operating area)?
  8. Are foam hoses, monitors and portable foam equipment ready?
  9. Are dry powder fire extinguishers available and ready for use?
  10. Are the fire hoses and foam nozzles pointing away from the operating area in case of inadvertent discharge?
  11. Has a rescue party been detailed?
  12. Is a man overboard rescue boat ready for lowering?
  13. Are all types of equipment such as a giant ax, Crowbar, Wire cutters, Red emergency signal/torch, Marshalling batons (at night), and First aid equipment, etc. available
  14. Has the correct lighting (including special navigation lights) been switched on prior to night operations?
  15. Is the deck party complete, ready, in position, wearing brightly colored waistcoats and protective helmets, and are all personnel clear of the operating area?
  16. Has the hook handler been equipped with helmet, strong rubber gloves and rubber soled shoes to avoid the danger of static discharge?
  17. Are landing / winching areas surveyed and proved clear of obstructions, in accordance Sec 4.2 to 4.5 of ICS Guide to Helicopter / Ship operations?
  18. Is access to and egress from the operating area clear?

Helicopter Landing on board vessel
Helicopter Landing on board vessel

Landing on board
  1. Is the deck party aware that a landing is to be made?
  2. Is the operating area free of heavy spray or seas on deck?
  3. Have side rails and, where necessary, awnings, stanchions, and other obstructions been lowered or removed?
  4. Where applicable, have portable pipes been removed, and have the remaining apex ends been blanked off?
  5. "Are rope messengers to hand for securing the helicopter, if necessary? (Note: Only the helicopter pilot may decide whether or not to secure the helicopter)"
  6. Have all personnel been warned to keep clear of rotors and exhaust?

Additionally for Tankers & Gas Carriers
  1. For tankers fitted with an inert gas system, has pressure in cargo tanks been reduced to slight positive pressure?
  2. For tankers, have all tank openings been secured following venting operations?
  3. For gas carriers, have all precautions been taken to prevent vapour emission on deck?

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