Hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, tornados, tsunamis are more dangerous to ocean-going ships when they are in port. The recent hurricane florence, matthew, sandy, irene, igor, earl, danielle, kyle, ike, hanna, gustav, fay, felix, florence, katrina, rita and wilma shows that. Typhoons mangkhut, jebi, chaba, palma and melor showed similar results.

Isn’t this contradictory? Ports are supposed to be safe and sheltered places for ships.

typhoon, hurricane, cyclone approaching

typhoon, hurricane, cyclone approaching

For small boats, harbors are excellent places of shelter from strong winds and waves. Well, up to a certain extent this is true. But, when the winds become so strong, and the waves so huge, and the full forces of nature takes over, there is no stopping them even if you have very strong

Strong winds can blow a person overboard

Strong winds can blow a person overboard

structures to protect yourself.

Man just have to try their best to sustain themselves, or hold up their hands in despair and surrender to powers beyond their ability to tame. What man has built – huge ships, fantastic building structures, smart vehicles and computer systems, palaces and huge skyscrapers can be reduced to heaps of rubbles in just one stroke of the mighty hand of God.

For ships tied up at the wharves, the severe pounding of the ship’s hull with the rubber lined concrete and steel wharves can bring damage to both. The thick mooring ropes or chains can snap during hurricanes or typhoons. The damages can be severe.

When the weathermen issue a hurricane or typhoon warning, the radio officer will alert the captain who will cancel all shore leaves.

All the engines are put on standby. Before the strong winds arrive, the ship must be put out to sea. It is safer out at sea than it is tied up alongside the wharf.

waves, sea, ocean, strong wind, typhoon,

Huge waves are normal during the course of a voyage especially during winter

At sea, the ship sails under its own power to go against the wind under the able hands of the officers on the bridge and the engineers in the engine room. The sides of the ship should not be exposed to the fury of the winds as it might cause the ship to turn turtle (overturn upside down).

Although the ship will have its own inherent transverse stability that will bring the ship upright during normal cargo loading, fuel transferring and rough weather, hurricanes or typhoons are abnormal conditions that seafarers must be very vigilant about.

So, even though the ship has already arrived in port, no cargo work is possible. The ship still has to put out to sea, but only for a short distance from shore.

During the hurricane or typhoon alert, the ship will be floating just outside the harbor, engines starting, stopping and running according to the orders from the bridge. Sometimes, the ship will be traveling at slow speed in one direction, making a U-turn, and then traveling again at slow speed in the opposite direction. In this manner the ship will be moving up and down the sea outside the harbor.

Other ships in the area will also be doing the same thing, and care must be taken not to collide with them.

When the full force of the hurricane or typhoon hits the ship, it is like any rough sea – plenty of ship movement like pitching, rolling, heaving, swaying, yawing.

The seafarers just have to sit tight and control their ship until the winds and waves die down, knowing that they are more protected than those people on shore.