How to Abandon Ship

Phil Richards · John J. Banigan

John J. Baningan, co-author of this manual, is first on the right in the ROBIN MOOR lifeboat he commanded. This picture was taken on the tenth day of their 19-day voyage.
John J. Banigan, co-author of this manual, is first on the right in the Robin Moor lifeboat he commanded. This picture was taken on the tenth day of their 19-day voyage. (International News Photos)


To scores of seamen from torpedoed ships, the authors pay humble tribute for their generous aid in the preparation of this manual.

Space will not permit our giving credit to the great number of sources which have been consulted, but grateful acknowledgment is made to the numerous outstanding authorities on whose work and researches we have freely drawn.

We sincerely appreciate the help of Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Arctic explorer, Dr. R. Keith Cannan, Professor of Chemistry, New York University College of Medicine, Dr. Homer Smith, Department of Physiology, N.Y.U., Dr. Robert Venner, Lenox Hill Hospital, and Dr. William L. Wheeler, Jr.

In the uniformed forces we gratefully acknowledge the help of Rear-Admiral H.L. Brinser, USN; Commander Charles D. Kirk, SC, USN; Lieutenant Commander R. Newton Brown, USNR; Captain Leon Peisachowitz, Med. Res., U.S.A; Captain John Meadows, Ord. USA; Captain Seymour Pond, Army Air Forces;


Lieutenant Lawrence Smith, SC, USN; Lieutenant R.J. Stewart, OR, USA; Lieutenant Max Weiner, Army Air Forces; E. Gould, Chief Pharmacist's Mate, USN; S.G. Morgan, Sr., Chief Inspector of Engineering Materials, USN; Morris Greenberger, Associate Chemist, USN; P.L. Zinna, Associate Inspector of Textiles, USN; and also the interest and information afforded by officials of the Marine Inspection Service.

To Second Lieutenant Edward V. Banigan, OR USA, we extend especial acknowledgment for his untiring efforts in having the chapters checked by experts.

Valuable assistance has been rendered by Per Aable, designer of a life suit; Corby Paxton, editor of The Pilot; Howard McKenzie, vice president of the National Maritime Union, William B. Hart, associate editor of the American Magazine, T.W. Herbst, S. Londer, and Samuel K. Duff.

We are indebted to William Robinson and Gobin Stair for the speedy and efficient manner in which they prepared the manuscript for publication.

Phil Richards
John J. Banigan

June, 1942



  Introduction 3
1. Prepare Yourself 9
2. Abandon Ship 19
3. Buoyancy 29
4. Swinging Out 34
5. Lowering 38
6. Waterborne 42
7. Setting Sail 48
8. Open Boat Seamanship 55
9. Navigating 62
10. Transports 68
11. Liferafts 73
12. Tankers 79
13. Medical 87
14. Morale 101
15. Water and Thirst 110
16. Food and Hunger 116
17. Wind and Rain 124
18. Freezing Weather 132
  Abstract of Banigan's Voyage 141
  Index 145


Transcribed and formatted by Patrick Clancey, HyperWar Foundation
Copy editing by Loren Wilton