Coast Guard urges mariners to examine watertight doors, bilge alarms

The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard:
(WASHINGTON) — The office of Investigations and Analysis at Coast Guard Headquarters, here, issued a marine safety alert May 9, advising vessel owners and operators to examine their vessels’ watertight integrity and the placement of high-level bilge alarms within their vessels.

The alert was issued in light of information revealed during the ongoing marine board of investigation for the sinking of the Alaska Ranger March 28, that resulted in the loss of five lives, as well as other accident investigations that identified similar issues.

The Coast Guard advised vessel owners and operators to implement a watertight door inspection program that will help ensure all watertight decks and bulkheads are inspected periodically.  The inspections should ensure the watertight doors will function properly to prevent progressive flooding in the event of an accident or other incident that causes flooding. The Coast Guard also recommended that all vessel crewmembers be familiar with the locations of watertight doors and weather tight closures throughout their vessels.

The safety alert further urged vessel owners and operators to ensure high-level bilge alarms are arranged to provide the earliest warnings of the abnormal accumulation of water.  These alarms should be set as low as possible to the deck or bilge-well along the center-most area of the bilge.

The complete marine safety alert is available online at and then by selecting safety alert and most current. 

The U.S. Coast Guard typically conducts approximately 14,000 marine casualty investigations to identify the causal factors of reportable maritime accidents.  The findings and lessons learned from these investigations are used to develop new standards to prevent future accidents.


By Professional Mariner Staff