Working safely on tenders, dories or auxiliary vessels

Know the risks and be prepared

If you operate a fleet of tender vessels or work on a tender it’s important to know the hazards and risks and make sure each vessel has the right safety procedures and equipment in place to keep crew safe. 

The danger of working solo

In some operations, tenders work far from the parent vessel and at times may stray from the vessel looking out for them. 

Dangerous and unpredictable offshore conditions also increase the chance of the parent vessel losing sight, contact or track of the tender. 

If urgent help or medical attention is required, crew need to be able to contact and alert the parent vessel quickly and easily. 

A VHF marine radio is the best way for parent and tender vessels to stay in contact over longer distances.

Know where your tenders are at all times

The use of a radar or an automatic identification system (AIS) can help you monitor each tender’s location.

Being able to maintain reliable communication between the parent vessel and each tender is vital. A VHF marine radio is the best option for keeping communication channels open, particularly in an emergency.

Working and staying safe

To keep tender crew safe, owners and operators of parent vessels must have in place emergency procedures for their operations, including all tender vessels. 

Safety gear—each tender must have the right safety equipment on board, including:

  • a marine radio
  • a registered EPIRB (for emergencies)
  • lifejackets
  • navigation equipment 
  • a first aid kit
  • flares 

Getting the best out of your safety management system 

Owners and operators of parent vessels must have in place a safety management system (SMS) and this must cover all tenders– it’s your responsibility.

  • Involve your crew in the development, evaluation and review of your SMS.
  • Schedule regular check-ins between parent and tender vessels and know the specific return times.
  • Practice emergency responses so every crew member knows what to do if they get into strife.

Identify and address the risks 

Every vessel and its operations are different. It’s a good idea for masters and crew to work together to identify the hazards and risks to their operations and identify ways to reduce or manage those risks.

First it’s important to do a risk assessment to identify:

  • the main daily tasks carried out crew and the potential risks of each task
  • ways to control the risks of each task
  • the appropriate crew for each tender vessel
  • the procedures that need to be in place to deal with emergencies.

Make safety easy 

Conduct a safety induction for all crew on board the parent vessel and tenders. 

Every crew member must be trained and competent to operate a tender safely and know what to do if they stray from the parent vessel, get into trouble or have an emergency situation.

Know the drill—all crew should know the vessel’s SMS and what to do to stay safe.

Find out more about how to prepare an SMS

Last updated: 

Tuesday 5 January 2021