The main effort in locating and rescuing survivors of a maritime incident is borne by merchant shipping. This research shows that search and rescue is a task that will face most seafarers, but as they generally lack the necessary levels of skill and knowledge required the task will often be poorly performed. A remedy to this unsatisfactory situation lies in proper training and guidance for ships' officers. This thesis evaluates, using illuminative techniques, the first simulator course devised to provide such training. The evaluation will be of particular use to others called upon to provide similar training. It also shows a requirement for the adoption of improved procedures in merchant ship searches, makes relevant recommendations, and identifies areas for further research. More significantly the study has allowed, through simulation, an opportunity unparalleled in the real situation to assess the guidance contained in the Merchant Ship Search and Rescue Manual (MERSAR). This International Maritime Organization manual is the primary aid available to seafarers facing search and rescue responsibilities. The assessment concludes there is scope for extensive amendment to MERSAR amounting to overall rather than piecemeal revision. Positive recommendations are made, particularly in the areas of communications, control and co-ordination. It is anticipated that this original research will have an important role to play in MERSAR's revision, and through this improve the effectiveness of maritime search and rescue.

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