When an accident happens, support is also needed from the shipping company ashore. Stena Line’s contingency plan regulates everything, from the crew’s first call to procedures for psychological support after the crisis is over.
Martin Lewerentz is Stena Line’s designated person. He explains that the crew’s first emergency call to the company is transferred to an internal safety centre that is manned around the clock. The centre then turns to one of the onshore organisation’s rapid response teams.
”The whole system starts up when this happens. We have drawings of the whole ship, we can connect to the stability computers on board and we also make all the necessary contacts with the competent authorities, classification society and rescue services,” says Martin Lewerentz.
Relatives of the crew are put through to the company’s HR department, while an external centre answers questions relating to passengers. In crisis situations, the company’s communication department has a very important role in answering questions from the media and informing others in the company,” says Martin.
”I am a sea captain myself and I have been involved in incidents at sea. My experience is that in a crisis situation you need to focus on the operational issues without being disturbed by people calling with questions about anything and everything. Today, when everyone has mobile phones, it is very difficult to provide that situation for the crew, but we try to help them as far as we possibly can.”
The emergency response plan also includes procedures for how crewmembers can obtain counselling after an accident.
”Our HR department does that in collaboration with the occupational health services,” says Martin.
He tells us that the emergency response system is tested about four times a year on different scales. In January this year it was put to a live test when a lorry caught fire on Stena Nautica.
”Afterwards we went through what worked well and what could have been done differently. We have made a few adjustments, and now we have a plan which I think works well in all areas. But in an emergency, we who work ashore only have a supporting function. It is the guys and girls on the ships that do most of the work and they are extremely good at it,” says Martin.