This week I received a thorough (more on that later) briefing of the work of Iceland’s Maritime Safety and Survival Training Center which is located on board the ship Sæbjörg right next to Harpa. The facilities and the program on firefighting, survival, and rescue techniques are impressive, reflecting the importance of safety in Icelandic maritime operations. The Center provides mandatory training on safety and survival to everyone who is going to work on a ship (passenger, fishing, recreational) in Icelandic waters, which are known for their roughness during much of the year.
When I used the word “thorough” I meant to say that I donned a bright orange survival suit and jumped into the chilly Reykjavik harbor along with a group of eighteen students at the center. We floated for a while, got into a life raft, and then I was pulled off the water with a mechanical winch. Since I didn’t have enough fun the first time, I jumped again, this time wearing a life vest on top of the survival suit. While this practice was fun, it gave me an opportunity to reflect on the dangers that confront Icelandic sailors and the importance of training for all contingencies.