“I left it all ready. All they had to do was put the burgers in the bun. I even sliced the tomatoes for them.” Said a tearful yacht chef as she was led away for further questioning by the local police after a tragic incident which resulted in the deaths of 10 members of a yacht crew.
Early reports indicate the chef, an 8-year industry veteran who supposedly had never killed anyone before, had simply left the boat to attend a one-hour yoga class. It was one hour too long.
“It appears the captain tried to use a fire-ax to access the main galley fridge.” Said a local fire-fighter who responded to the call. “We also found a member of the engineering team with a blow-torch and a raw sausage in the engine room, but he seems to have been unable to light it, probably due to being too weak from hunger. It was a terrible scene. Even after all these years you don’t get used to something like that.”
“This could have been prevented.” Says Jamie Oliver, an ISM consultant who specializes in galley safety. “Usually we advise any vessel chef or cook who is departing the boat for a period of time greater than 30 minutes to leave emergency rations on hand. It doesn’t have to be fancy, a giant pot of spaghetti bolognaise will often do, or failing that a dozen pork chops in a pinch.”
A recent report by the MAIB, released just last month, highlights the dangers of Sudden and Spontaneous Starvation at Sea (SSSS). The report details the events that led to the deaths of 29 crew members on the oil tanker ‘Black Dawn’ after dinner was five minutes late. The immediate cause of the tragedy has been attributed to the cook taking a phone call from his brother, although questions have been raised about a lack of training that leads to crew being unable to feed themselves.
“A good vessel familiarization should include a demonstration of how to turn on the range, and basic instruction in emergency food-accessing devices such as a can-opener.” Advises Mr. Oliver. “Sudden and Spontaneous Starvation at Sea or SSSS,” here he makes a hissing sound, “Is a very real problem and one that should be taken seriously. Why in the hell are you laughing man?”
For the time-being most flag states are issuing emergency guidance on the subject, advising that packets of crisps of a variety of flavors be stowed at a distance no greater than 3 meters apart along all thoroughfares and in all accommodation spaces. Alternatively, for vessel’s concerned with the long-term health of their crew, the emergency feeding stations may contain fresh fruit, but these will have to be subjected to weekly checks.
“It is just simply unacceptable that in this day and age we have seafarers dying mere meters from sustenance.” Concludes Mr. Oliver. “Something has got to be done. And clearly that something isn’t expecting adults to know how to feed themselves.”