Travel at sea requires preparation and planning. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is an agency at the United Nations. It was established to identify measures needed to ensure safe and secure international shipping and to prevent pollution from ships. Member states belonging to the organization have agreed to be bound by “conventions” which are standards set by the group.
The SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea Treaty) Convention provides requirements for the construction, equipment, and operation of ships to ensure safe operations. One of the most important devices used in ships is the watertight door. This is considered safety critical equipment. Failure of these doors to operate correctly can interfere with watertight integrity of the ship with potentially disastrous consequences.
Types of Watertight Doors
SOLAS considers a door to be watertight if it is able to withstand water pressure from both sides. A watertight door can withstand continuous submersion in water. The design and placement of watertight doors vary depending on their intended use. The convention defines four types of watertight doors:
- Type A – which may be left open and should be closed only in the event of an emergency
- Type B – should remain closed and be opened only when personnel are working nearby
- Type C – should remain closed at all times and opened only if needed to allow personnel to pass through
- Type D – non-compliant doors
Watertight doors can be either a hinged type or a sliding type. The hinged type swings out from one side and is operated manually. The sliding type moves vertically or horizontally and is powered by hydraulic cylinders or electric motors.
SOLAS regulations require that all power operated doors must be capable of closing simultaneously from the bridge and Ship Control Center in 60 seconds or less when the ship is upright. The doors must close at a uniform rate of not less than 20 seconds long. They should also be equipped with a local alarm and be able to be operated manually during a power failure.
Watertight doors are heavy pieces of equipment that can cause serious injury if misused or if they malfunction. To avoid injury, they need to be regularly inspected and maintained. This should include the entire system including warning devices/alarms, the electric system, the hydraulic system (pumps, cylinders, pipe connections), valves, and seals. Maintenance will be determined by manufacturers’ recommendations but include keeping the door frame clean and lubricating the gasket.
Safe operation also requires a knowledgeable crew. They need to know how to operate watertight doors. In addition, they need to know which doors may be left open and which should remain closed at all times (unless for momentary egress).
Many accidents at sea are preventable. Yet, many seamen have been injured from watertight doors. The injuries can range from loss of fingers to death. Many of the injuries involve workers getting crushed as the doors closed. Alarm systems are required in order to minimize this hazard. Unfortunately, many seamen still experience injuries from these doors.
Cape May Maritime Lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. Pursue Maximum Compensation for Workers Injured at Sea
If you have been injured in a maritime accident, one or more maritime laws most likely apply. At Freedman & Lorry, P.C., we have experienced maritime lawyers who can assist you in seeking just compensation for your injuries. Conveniently located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients in Cape May, Gloucester, Wildwood, and throughout South Jersey. Contact us at 888-999-1962 or submit an online contact form to arrange a free initial consultation with an experienced Cape May maritime lawyer.