Commercial fishers are required to practice monthly emergency drills covering 10 contingencies.

Alaska commercial fishermen on a purse seine vessel donning immersion suits as part of a Drill Conductor Training course. Ron Kinnunen | Michigan Sea Grant

Michigan Sea Grant is coordinating Drill Conductor Training courses to be held throughout the Great Lakes region this summer. The training will help Great Lakes commercial fishing vessel captains fulfill U.S. Coast Guard regulations related to instruction, drills and safety orientations, and onboard emergency instruction. Commercial fishers are required to practice monthly emergency drills covering 10 contingencies spelled out in the regulation. Persons conducting these drills must have passed a Drill Conductor Training course.

Contingencies covered in the drills include:

  • Abandoning vessel
  • Fighting fire in different locations on vessel
  • Recovering an individual from the water
  • Minimizing effects of unintentional flooding
  • Launching survival craft and recovering life boats and rescue boats
  • Donning immersion suits and other wearable floatation devices
  • Donning fireman’s outfit and self-contained breathing apparatus if equipped
  • Making a voice radio distress call and using visual distress signals
  • Activating the general alarm
  • Reporting inoperative alarm systems and fire detection system

Operators are required to give comprehensive orientations to all new persons coming aboard before departure. Commercial fishers need to have written safety information onboard. Depending on crew size this information needs to be posted if four or more crew members are onboard or kept as an available booklet if there are less than four crew members. The Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) provides copies of the required information as part of the Drill Conductor class.

Emergency instruction must identify:

  • Survival craft embarkation stations aboard vessel and survival craft to which each individual is assigned
  • Fire and emergency signal and abandon ship signal
  • If immersion suits are provided, the location of suits and illustrated instructions for donning
  • Procedures for making a distress call
  • Essential action that must be taken in an emergency by each individual
  • Procedures for rough weather at sea, crossing hazardous bars, flooding, and anchoring of the vessel
  • Procedures to be used in the event an individual falls overboard
  • Procedures for fighting a fire

The commercial fishing vessel operator or captain should be the one to attend a Drill Conductor class. If space is limited, we encourage the operator or captain to be the only participant from the crew. However, if there is room in class, we encourage crew members to participate, too. Most of our classes include both operators and crew.

The schedule for the upcoming classes include:

  • June 21, 2016: Ojibwa Casino Resort, 16449 Michigan Ave. (M-38), Baraga, MI
  • June 23, 2016: Legendary Waters Resort and Casino, 37600 Onigamiing Drive, Red Cliff, WI
  • June 25, 2016: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Office, 110 S. Neenah Ave., Sturgeon Bay, WI
  • June 27, 2016: Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum, W11660 U.S. 2, Naubinway, MI
  • June 29, 2016: Grand Traverse Bay Medicine Lodge, Stallman Road/McKeese Road, Suttons Bay, MI
  • July 1, 2016: Fairhaven Township Hall, 9811 Main Street, Bay Port, MI


All  classes will be held from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. AMSEA will be assisting with several of the courses and you must register at the AMSEA website. For additional information, contact Ron Kinnunen (Michigan Sea Grant) at (906) 226-3687 or