Responsibility of the Master after Abandoning a Ship

The master of the ship is overall in charge of the vessel at all times, even when the entire crew have to leave or abandon the vessel due to accidents such as fire, flooding, or collision.


Once the Master gives the abandon ship order, the following things need to be checked by her/him:

  • The master must ensure everyone is on the survival craft by taking a headcount
  • Move away from the vessel if it is capsized or sinking
  • Check with all the crew members if everyone has got ration, equipment etc. as per their muster list duties
  • Check no one is injured and if needed, arrange for first aid
  • Send the distress call if no help has arrived yet (The Annex IV of the COLREGS can also be referred to which extensively covers all distress signals that may be used)


Once all the crew is at a safe distance from the abandoned ship or is rescued by another ship or rescue team, the master performs the following duties-

  • Request the rescue team or ship to cancel the Mayday order
  • Communicate the reason for abandoning the ship and request to issue a navigational warning as the abandoned ship may be a threat to other vessels.
  • Count the number of crew rescued and report it to the nearest coastal authority.
  • All information about accidents and survivors must be provided to the company and P&I club officials once the rescue team reaches the nearest port.
  • Prepare a complete report of the event that leads to the accident, along with other senior officers and submit it to the company and Maritime Accident Investigation authority.

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