Health & Safety at Sea
Safety is among our highest priorities on every voyage, every day. At sea, the staff to student ratio is approximately 1:2. Our professional staff receives safety and medical training and performs regular drills (see more in the “Training” section, below). SEA owns and operates the SSV Corwith Cramer and the SSV Robert C. Seamans, both custom designed and uniquely built educational platforms. Unlike some other programs that take students to sea, our ships are U.S. flagged, inspected, and regulated vessels, and have been designed and built specifically for SEA with student and crew safety foremost in mind.
Our ships are United States Coast Guard (USCG) certified and regularly inspected for ocean service. In addition, they are inspected by the American Bureau of Shipping and meet or exceed ABS’ stringent machinery and hull safety standards. As U.S. flagged Sailing School Vessels (SSVs), our ships are required to meet safety standards different from those for passenger vessels on a comparable route.
The SSV Corwith Cramer and SSV Robert C. Seamans meet or exceed the safety requirements for their USCG and ABS class designations and possess all required equipment for navigation and emergency situation response. The Corwith Cramer carries one category I 406 EPIRB and one category I 406 GPIRB, as well as three 20-person life rafts. Each life raft is equipped with one 406 GPS PLB. The Robert C. Seamans carries two category 1 406 GPIRBs, as well as three 25-person life rafts. Each life raft is equipped with one 406 GPS PLB.
As with other areas of safety, medical care at sea is heavily biased towards prevention. Students receive ample reminders of the need for adequate hygiene, sun protection, nutrition, and hydration. Both ships carry simple medical kits and are assigned a designated medical officer. The ship’s captain and designated medical officer review each oncoming student’s medical form, communicating with the staff at Woods Hole Headquarters to stay abreast of student health issues.
Both ships maintain 24-hour access to a network of physicians specially trained to provide remote medical care & advice. Our medical response plans include use of MedAire (a subsidiary of International SOS) and Divers Alert Network (DAN)’s TravelAssist program, which arranges emergency medical evacuations for any medical emergency and offers many other medical, travel, and legal benefits. SEA’s DAN membership also allows us access to resources such as Worldcue® PLANNER health, safety, and security briefs, powered by iJET Intelligent Risk Systems, for regions of the globe in which SEA Semester operates.
A Safety Management System governs the operation of SEA vessels and programs aboard those vessels. Emergency drills are conducted weekly when underway and recorded in the deck logbook as per USCG requirements.
SEA cruise tracks are planned well in advance to optimize program objectives, and are based on seasonal weather patterns, sea conditions, oceanographic research clearances and port calls visited. First and foremost, we consider weather; our cruise track selection and timing reflects strict adherence to predictable heavy weather avoidance.