Safety / Survival / Army Field Manuals / AFM 3-05.70
16-1. As a survivor on the open sea, you will face waves and wind. You may
also face extreme heat or cold. To keep these environmental hazards from
becoming serious problems, take precautionary measures as soon as possible. Use
the available resources to protect yourself from the elements and from heat or
extreme cold and humidity.
16-2. Protecting yourself from the elements meets only one of your basic
needs. You must also be able to obtain water and food. Satisfying these basic
needs will help prevent serious physical and psychological problems. However,
you must also know how to treat health problems that may arise.
16-3. Your survival at sea depends upon your—
16-4. When you board a ship or aircraft, find out what survival equipment is
on board, where it is stowed, and what it contains. For instance, how many life
preservers and lifeboats or rafts are on board? Where are they located? What
type of survival equipment do they have? How much food, water, and medicine do
they contain? How many people can be supported? Also, if you are responsible for
other personnel on board, make sure you know where they are and they know where
DOWN AT SEA
16-5. If your aircraft goes down at sea, take the following actions. Whether
you are in the water or in a raft, you should—
Get clear and upwind of the aircraft as soon as possible, but stay in the
vicinity until the aircraft sinks.
Get clear of fuel-covered water in case the fuel ignites.
Try to find other survivors.
16-6. A search for survivors usually takes place around the entire area of
and near the crash site. Missing personnel may be unconscious and floating low
in the water. Figure 16-1, illustrates three rescue
Figure 16-1. Rescue From Water
16-7. The best technique for rescuing personnel from the water is to throw
them a life preserver attached to a line (A). Another is to send a swimmer
(rescuer) from the raft with a line attached to a flotation device that will
support the rescuer's weight (B). This device will help conserve a rescuer's
energy while recovering the survivor. The least acceptable technique is to send
an attached swimmer without flotation devices to retrieve a survivor (C). In all
cases, the rescuer wears a life preserver. A rescuer should not underestimate
the strength of a panic-stricken person in the water. A careful approach can
prevent injury to the rescuer.
16-8. When the rescuer approaches a survivor in trouble from behind, there is
little danger the survivor will kick, scratch, or grab him. The rescuer swims to
a point directly behind the survivor and grasps the life preserver's backstrap.
The rescuer uses the sidestroke to drag the survivor to the raft.
16-9. If you are in the water, make your way to a raft. If no rafts are
available, try to find a large piece of floating debris to cling to. Relax; a
person who knows how to relax in ocean water is in very little danger of
drowning. The body's natural buoyancy will keep at least the top of the head
above water, but some movement is needed to keep the face above water.
16-10. Floating on your back takes the least energy. Lie on your back in the
water, spread your arms and legs, and arch your back. By controlling your
breathing in and out, your face will always be out of the water and you may even
sleep in this position for short periods. Your head will be partially submerged,
but your face will be above water. If you cannot float on your back or if the
sea is too rough, float facedown in the water as shown in Figure
Figure 16-2. Floating Position
16-11. The following are the best swimming strokes during a survival
Dog paddle. This stroke is excellent when clothed or wearing a
life jacket. Although slow in speed, it requires very little energy.
Breaststroke. Use this stroke to swim underwater, through oil or
debris, or in rough seas. It is probably the best stroke for long-range
swimming: it allows you to conserve your energy and maintain a reasonable
Sidestroke. It is a good relief stroke because you use only one
arm to maintain momentum and buoyancy.
Backstroke. This stroke is also an excellent relief stroke. It
relieves the muscles that you use for other strokes. Use it if an underwater
explosion is likely.
16-12. If you are in an area where surface oil is burning—
NOTE: If you have an uninflated life preserver, keep it.
Cover your nose, mouth, and eyes and quickly go underwater.
Swim underwater as far as possible before surfacing to breathe.
Before surfacing to breathe and while still underwater, use your hands to
push burning fluid away from the area where you wish to surface. Once an
area is clear of burning liquid, you can surface and take a few breaths. Try
to face downwind before inhaling.
Submerge feet first and continue as above until clear of the flames.
16-13. If you are in oil-covered water that is free of fire, hold your head
high to keep the oil out of your eyes. Attach your life preserver to your wrist
and then use it as a raft.
16-14. If you have a life preserver, you can stay afloat for an indefinite
period. In this case, use the "Heat Escaping Lessening Posture (HELP)"
body position (Figure 16-3). Remain still and assume the
fetal position to help you retain body heat. You lose about 50 percent of your
body heat through your head. Therefore, keep your head out of the water. Other
areas of high heat loss are the neck, the sides, and the groin.
Figure 16-3. HELP Position
16-15. If you are in a raft (also see Raft Procedures)—
Check the physical condition of all on board. Give first aid if
necessary. Take seasickness pills if available. The best way to take these
pills is to place them under the tongue and let them dissolve. There are
also suppositories or injections against seasickness. Vomiting, whether from
seasickness or other causes, increases the danger of dehydration.
Try to salvage all floating equipment—rations; canteens, thermos jugs,
and other containers; clothing; seat cushions; parachutes; and anything else
that will be useful to you. Secure the salvaged items in or to your raft.
Make sure the items have no sharp edges that can puncture the raft.
If there are other rafts, lash the rafts together so they are about 7.5
meters (25 feet) apart. Be ready to draw them closer together if you see or
hear an aircraft. It is easier for an aircrew to spot rafts that are close
together rather than scattered.
Remember, rescue at sea is a cooperative effort. Use all available visual
or electronic signaling devices to signal and make contact with rescuers.
For example, raise a flag or reflecting material on an oar as high as
possible to attract attention.
Locate the emergency radio and get it into operation. Operating
instructions are on it. Use the emergency transceiver only when friendly
aircraft are likely to be in the area.
Have other signaling devices ready for instant use. If you are in enemy
territory, avoid using a signaling device that will alert the enemy.
However, if your situation is desperate, you may have to signal the enemy
for rescue if you are to survive.
Check the raft for inflation, leaks, and points of possible chafing. Make
sure the main buoyancy chambers are firm (well rounded) but not overly tight
(Figure 16-4). Check inflation regularly. Air expands
with heat; therefore, on hot days, release some air and add air when the
Decontaminate the raft of all fuel. Petroleum will weaken its surfaces
and break down its glued joints.
Throw out the sea anchor, or improvise a drag from the raft's case, a
bailing bucket, or a roll of clothing. A sea anchor helps you stay close to
your ditching site, making it easier for searchers to find you if you have
relayed your location. Without a sea anchor, your raft may drift over 160
kilometers (96 miles) in a day, making it much harder to find you. You can
adjust the sea anchor to act as a drag to slow down the rate of travel with
the current, or as a means to travel with the current. You make this
adjustment by opening or closing the sea anchor's apex. When open, the sea
anchor (Figure 16-5) acts as a drag that keeps you in
the general area. When closed, it forms a pocket for the current to strike
and propels the raft in the current's direction.
Figure 16-4. Inflating the Raft
Figure 16-5. Sea Anchor
16-16. Also adjust the sea anchor so that when the raft is on the wave's
crest, the sea anchor is in the wave's trough (Figure 16-6).
Figure 16-6. Deployment of the Sea Anchor
Wrap the sea anchor rope with cloth to prevent its chafing the raft. The
anchor also helps to keep the raft headed into the wind and waves.
In stormy water, rig the spray and windshield at once. In a 25-man raft,
keep the canopy erected at all times. Keep your raft as dry as possible.
Keep it properly balanced. All personnel should stay seated, the heaviest
one in the center.
Calmly consider all aspects of your situation and determine what you and
your companions must do to survive. Inventory all equipment, food, and
water. Waterproof items that salt water may affect. These include compasses,
watches, sextant, matches, and lighters. Ration food and water.
Assign a duty position to each person or assign teams, for example, water
collectors, food collectors, lookouts, radio operators, signalers, and water
NOTE: Lookout duty should not exceed 2 hours. Keep in mind and remind
others that cooperation is one of the keys to survival.
Keep a log. Record the navigator's last fix, the time of ditching, the
names and physical condition of personnel, and the ration schedule. Also
record the winds, weather, direction of swells, times of sunrise and sunset,
and other navigational data.
If you are down in unfriendly waters, take special security measures to
avoid detection. Do not travel in the daytime. Throw out the sea anchor and
wait for nightfall before paddling or hoisting sail. Keep low in the raft;
stay covered with the blue side of the camouflage cloth up. Be sure a
passing ship or aircraft is friendly or neutral before trying to attract its
attention. If the enemy detects you and you are close to capture, destroy
the logbook, radio, navigation equipment, maps, signaling equipment, and
firearms. Jump overboard and submerge if the enemy starts strafing.
Decide whether to stay in position or to travel. Ask yourself, "How
much information was signaled before the accident? Is your position known to
rescuers? Do you know it yourself? Is the weather favorable for a search?
Are other ships or aircraft likely to pass your present position? How many
days supply of food and water do you have?"
COLD WEATHER CONSIDERATIONS
16-17. If you are in a cold climate—
Put on an antiexposure suit. If unavailable, put on any extra clothing
available. Keep clothes loose and comfortable.
Take care not to snag the raft with shoes or sharp objects. Keep the
repair kit where you can readily reach it.
Rig a windbreak, spray shield, and canopy.
Try to keep the floor of the raft dry. Cover it with canvas or cloth for
Huddle with others to keep warm, moving enough to keep the blood
circulating. Spread an extra tarpaulin, sail, or parachute over the group.
Give extra rations, if available, to men suffering from exposure to cold.
16-18. The greatest threat you face when submerged in cold water is death due
to hypothermia. The average ocean temperature around the world is only 11
degrees C (51 degrees F). However, do not be fooled by warm water—hypothermia
can even occur in 27-degree C (80-degree F) water. When you are immersed in cold
water, hypothermia occurs rapidly due to the decreased insulating quality of wet
clothing and the result of water displacing the layer of still air that normally
surrounds the body. The rate of heat exchange in water is about 25 times greater
than it is in air of the same temperature. Figure 16-7
lists life expectancy times for immersion in water.
Figure 16-7. Life Expectancy Times for Immersion in Water
16-19. Your best protection against the effects of cold water is to get into
the life raft, stay dry, and insulate your body from the cold surface of the
bottom of the raft. If these actions are not possible, wearing an antiexposure
suit will extend your life expectancy considerably. Remember, keep your head and
neck out of the water and well insulated from the cold water's effects when the
temperature is below 19 degrees C (66 degrees F). Wearing life preservers
increases the predicted survival time as body position in the water increases
the chance of survival.
HOT WEATHER CONSIDERATIONS
16-20. If you are in a hot climate—
Rig a sunshade or canopy. Leave enough space for ventilation.
Cover your skin, where possible, to protect it from sunburn. Use sunburn
cream, if available, on all exposed skin. Your eyelids, the back of your
ears, and the skin under your chin sunburn easily.
16-21. Most of the rafts in the U.S. Army and Air Force inventories can
satisfy the needs for personal protection, mode of travel, and evasion and
NOTE: Before boarding any raft, remove and tether (attach) your life
preserver to yourself or the raft. Ensure there are no other metallic or sharp
objects on your clothing or equipment that could damage the raft. After boarding
the raft, don your life preserver again.
16-22. For all rafts, remember the five As. These are
the first things you should do if you are the first person into the raft:
Air-Check that all chambers are inflated and that all inflation valves
are closed and equalization tube clamps (found on the 25-, 35-, and 46-man
rafts) are clamped off when fully inflated.
Assistance-Assist others into the raft. Remove all puncture-producing
items from pockets and move flotation devices to the rear of the body. Use
proper boarding techniques; for example, the boarding loop on the seven-man
raft and the boarding ramps on the 25-, 35-, and 46-man rafts.
Anchor-Ensure the sea anchor is properly deployed. It can be found 180
degrees away from the equalization tube on the 25-, 35-, and
Accessory bag-Locate the accessory bag. It will be tethered to the raft
between the smooth side of the CO2 bottle and the closest
Assessment-Assess the situation and keep a positive mental attitude.
16-23. The one-man raft has a main cell inflation. If the CO2
bottle should malfunction or if the raft develops a leak, you can inflate it by
16-24. The spray shield acts as a shelter from the cold, wind, and water. In
some cases, this shield serves as insulation. The raft's insulated bottom limits
the conduction of cold thereby protecting you from hypothermia (Figure
Figure 16-8. One-Man Raft With Spray Shield
16-25. You can travel more effectively by inflating or deflating the raft to
take advantage of the wind or current. You can use the spray shield as a sail
while the ballast buckets serve to increase drag in the water. You may use the
sea anchor to control the raft's speed and direction.
16-26. There are rafts developed for use in tactical areas that are black.
These rafts blend with the sea's background. You can further modify these rafts
for evasion by partially deflating them to obtain a lower profile.
16-27. A lanyard connects the one-man raft to a parachutist (survivor)
landing in the water. You (the survivor) inflate it upon landing. You do not
swim to the raft, but pull it to you via the lanyard. The raft may hit the water
upside down, but you can right it by approaching the side to which the bottle is
attached and flipping the raft over. The spray shield must be in the raft to
expose the boarding handles. Follow the five As outlined under raft procedures
above when boarding the raft (Figure 16-9).
Figure 16-9. Boarding the One-Man Raft
16-28. If you have an arm injury, the best way to board is by turning your
back to the small end of the raft, pushing the raft under your buttocks, and
lying back. Another way to board the raft is to push down on its small end until
one knee is inside and lie forward (Figure 16-10).
Figure 16-10. Other Methods of Boarding the One-Man Raft
16-29. In rough seas, it may be easier for you to grasp the small end of the
raft and, in a prone position, to kick and pull yourself into the raft. When you
are lying face down in the raft, deploy and adjust the sea anchor. To sit
upright, you may have to disconnect one side of the seat kit and roll to that
side. Then you adjust the spray shield. There are two variations of the one-man
raft; the improved model incorporates an inflatable spray shield and floor that
provide additional insulation. The spray shield helps keep you dry and warm in
cold oceans and protects you from the sun in the hot climates (Figure
Figure 16-11. One-Man Raft With Spray Shield Inflated
16-30. Some multiplace aircraft carry the seven-man raft. It is a component
of the survival drop kit (Figure 16-12). This raft may
inflate upside down and require you to right the raft before boarding. Always
work from the bottle side to prevent injury if the raft turns over. Facing into
the wind, the wind provides additional help in righting the raft. Use the
handles on the inside bottom of the raft for boarding (Figure
Figure 16-12. Seven-Man Raft
Figure 16-13. Method of Righting Raft
16-31. Use the boarding ramp if someone holds down the raft's opposite side.
If you don't have help, again work from the bottle side with the wind at your
back to help hold down the raft. Follow the five As outlined in paragraph
16-22. Then grasp an oarlock and boarding handle, kick your legs to get your
body prone on the water, and then kick and pull yourself into the raft. If you
are weak or injured, you may partially deflate the raft to make boarding easier
Figure 16-14. Method of Boarding Seven-Man Raft
16-32. Use the hand pump to keep the buoyancy chambers and cross seat firm.
Never overinflate the raft.
25-, 35-, and 46-Man Rafts
16-33. You may find 25-, 35-, or 46-man rafts in multiplace aircraft (Figure
16-15). The 20-man raft has been discontinued. The rafts are stowed in raft
compartments on the outside of the fuselage, usually on the wings, alongside the
upper half of the port (left) side of the aircraft. There will always be enough
raft space to accommodate all personnel on each type of aircraft. If the number
of personnel exceeds the maximum number of raft spaces, additional rafts will be
centerline-loaded and ratchet-strapped to the cargo bay floor. Some may be
automatically deployed from the cockpit or from stations within the cargo area,
usually near the crew chief's station, while others may need manual deployment.
No matter how the raft lands in the water, it is ready for boarding. A lanyard
connects the accessory kit to the raft and you retrieve the kit by hand. You
must manually inflate the center chamber with the hand pump. Board the 25-, 35-,
or 46-man raft from the aircraft, if possible. If not, board in the following
Approach the lower boarding ramp, following the arrows printed on the
outside of the raft.
Remove your life preserver and tether it to yourself so that it trails
Grasp the boarding handles and kick your legs to get your body into a
prone position on the water's surface; then kick and pull until you are
inside the raft.
Figure 16-15. 25-Man Raft
16-34. An incompletely inflated raft will make boarding easier. Approach the
intersection of the raft and ramp, grasp the upper boarding handle, and swing
one leg onto the center of the ramp, as in mounting a horse.
16-35. Immediately tighten the equalizer clamp upon entering the raft to
prevent deflating the entire raft in case of a puncture (Figure
Figure 16-16. Immediate Action—Multiplace Raft
16-36. Use the pump to keep these rafts' chambers and center ring firm. They
should be well rounded but not overly tight. The center rings keep the center of
the floor afloat, and give raft occupants something to brace their feet against
to prevent all occupants from sliding toward the center.
16-37. Rafts do not have keels, therefore, you can't sail them into the wind.
However, anyone can sail a raft downwind. You can successfully sail the
seven-man raft 10 degrees off from the direction of the wind. Do not try to sail
the raft unless land is near. If you decide to sail and the wind is blowing
toward a desired destination, fully inflate the raft, sit high, take in the sea
anchor, rig a sail, and use an oar as a rudder.
16-38. In the seven-man raft, erect a square sail in the bow using the oars
and their extensions as the mast and crossbar (Figure 16-17).
You may use a waterproof tarpaulin or parachute material for the sail. If the
raft has no regular mast socket and step, erect the mast by tying it securely to
the front cross seat using braces. Pad the bottom of the mast to prevent it from
chafing or punching a hole through the floor, whether or not there is a socket.
The heel of a shoe, with the toe wedged under the seat, makes a good improvised
mast step. Do not secure the corners of the lower edge of the sail. Hold the
lines attached to the corners with your hands so that a gust of wind will not
rip the sail, break the mast, or capsize the raft.
Figure 16-17. Sail Construction
16-39. Take every precaution to prevent the raft from turning over. In rough
weather, keep the sea anchor away from the bow. Have the passengers sit low in
the raft, with their weight distributed to hold the upwind side down. To prevent
falling out, they should also avoid sitting on the sides of the raft or standing
up. Avoid sudden movements without warning the other passengers. When the sea
anchor is not in use, tie it to the raft and stow it in such a manner that it
will hold immediately if the raft capsizes.
16-40. Water is your most important need. With it alone, you can live for ten
days or longer, depending on your will to live. When drinking water, moisten
your lips, tongue, and throat before swallowing.
16-41. When you have a limited water supply and you can't replace it by
chemical or mechanical means, use the water efficiently. Protect freshwater
supplies from seawater contamination. Keep your body well shaded, both from
overhead sun and from reflection off the sea surface. Allow ventilation of air;
dampen your clothes during the hottest part of the day. Do not exert yourself.
Relax and sleep when possible. Fix your daily water ration after considering the
amount of water you have, the output of solar stills and desalting kit, and the
number and physical condition of your party.
16-42. If you don't have water, don't eat. If your water ration is two liters
or more per day, eat any part of your ration or any additional food that you may
catch, such as birds, fish, shrimp. The life raft's motion and your anxiety may
cause nausea. If you eat when nauseated, you may lose your food immediately. If
nauseated, rest and relax as much as you can, and take only water.
16-43. To reduce your loss of water through perspiration, soak your clothes
in the sea and wring them out before putting them on again. Don't overdo this
during hot days when no canopy or sun shield is available. This is a trade-off
between cooling and the saltwater boils, sores, and rashes that will result. Be
careful not to get the bottom of the raft wet.
16-44. Watch the clouds and be ready for any chance of showers. Keep the
tarpaulin handy for catching water. If it is encrusted with dried salt, wash it
in seawater. Normally, a small amount of seawater mixed with rain will hardly be
noticeable and will not cause any physical reaction. In rough seas you cannot
get uncontaminated fresh water.
16-45. At night, secure the tarpaulin like a sunshade, and turn up its edges
to collect dew. It is also possible to collect dew along the sides of the raft
using a sponge or cloth. When it rains, drink as much as you can hold.
Manual Reverse Osmosis Desalinator
16-46. Most rafts today are equipped with a manual reverse osmosis
desalinator (MROD). The MROD is a very highly efficient water purifier designed
to remove salt particles from seawater, thereby making seawater potable. The two
most common models are the Survivor 35 and the Survivor 06, which make 35 and 6
gallons of potable water in a 24-hour period if used continuously. Water
procurement at sea is a 24-hour-a-day job. The MROD's life cycle is up to 50,000
gallons of water. The MROD has a 10-year shelf life before it must be repacked
by the manufacturer.
To operate the MROD, place both the intake (larger dual hose) and the potable
water supply hose into the water. Begin a 2-second cycle of pumping the
handle—one second up, one second down. A pressure indicator will protrude from
the pump housing to show that the proper flow is being maintained. An orange
band will be visible when the correct rhythm is maintained. Purge the
antimicrobial packing agent from the filter medium for 2 minutes. Then begin to
collect potable water.
NOTE: Ensure that the water is free from any petroleum residue (jet
fuel, hydraulic fluid, or oil) before using an MROD. The filter medium is very
sensitive to petroleum, oils, and lubricants, and will render the filter
useless, destroying your water production capability.
16-47. When solar stills are available, read the instructions and set them up
immediately. Use as many stills as possible, depending on the number of men in
the raft and the amount of sunlight available. Secure solar stills to the raft
with care. Solar stills only work on flat, calm seas.
16-48. When desalting kits are available in addition to solar stills, use
them only for immediate water needs or during long overcast periods when you
cannot use solar stills. In any event, keep desalting kits and emergency water
stores for periods when you cannot use solar stills or catch rainwater.
Water From Fish
16-49. Drink the aqueous fluid found along the spine and in the eyes of large
fish. Carefully cut the fish in half to get the fluid along the spine and suck
the eye. If you are so short of water that you need to do this, then do not
drink any of the other body fluids. These other fluids are rich in protein and
fat and will use up more of your reserve water in digestion than they supply.
16-50. In arctic waters, use old sea ice for water. This ice is bluish, has
rounded corners, and splinters easily. It is nearly free of salt. New ice is
gray, milky, hard, and salty. Water from icebergs is fresh, but icebergs are
dangerous to approach. Use them as a source of water only in emergencies.
16-51. As in any survival situation there are dangers when you are
substituting or compromising necessities. Even though water is one of your basic
needs, keep in mind the following tips.
16-52. Sleep and rest are the best ways of enduring periods of reduced water
and food intake. However, make sure that you have enough shade when napping
during the day. If the sea is rough, tie yourself to the raft, close any cover,
and ride out the storm as best you can. Relax is the key word—at least
try to relax.
16-53. In the open sea, fish will be the main food source. There are some
poisonous and dangerous ocean fish, but, in general, when out of sight of land,
fish are safe to eat. Nearer the shore there are fish that are both dangerous
and poisonous to eat. There are some fish, such as the red snapper and
barracuda, that are normally edible but poisonous when taken from the waters of
atolls and reefs. Flying fish will even jump into your raft!
16-54. When fishing, do not handle the fishing line with bare hands and never
wrap it around your hands or tie it to a life raft. The salt that adheres to it
can make it a sharp cutting edge, an edge dangerous both to the raft and your
hands. Wear gloves, if they are available, or use a cloth to handle fish and to
avoid injury from sharp fins and gill covers.
16-55. In warm regions, gut and bleed fish immediately after catching them.
Cut fish that you do not eat immediately into thin, narrow strips and hang them
to dry. A well-dried fish stays edible for several days. Fish not cleaned and
dried may spoil in half a day. Fish with dark meat are very prone to
decomposition. If you do not eat them all immediately, do not eat any of the
leftovers. Use the leftovers for bait.
16-56. Never eat fish that have pale, shiny gills, sunken eyes, flabby skin
and flesh, or an unpleasant odor. Good fish show the opposite characteristics.
Sea fish have a saltwater or clean fishy odor. Do not confuse eels with sea
snakes that have an obviously scaly body and strongly compressed, paddle-shaped
tail. Both eels and sea snakes are edible, but you must handle the latter with
care because of their poisonous bites. The heart, blood, intestinal wall, and
liver of most fish are edible. Cook the intestines. Also edible are the partly
digested smaller fish that you may find in the stomachs of large fish. In
addition, sea turtles are edible.
16-57. Shark meat is a good source of food whether raw, dried, or cooked.
Shark meat spoils very rapidly due to the high concentration of urea in the
blood; therefore, bleed it immediately and soak it in several changes of water.
People prefer some shark species over others. Consider them all edible except
the Greenland shark, whose flesh contains high quantities of vitamin A. Do not
eat the livers, due to high vitamin A content.
16-58. The accessory kit contains a very good fishing kit that should meet
your needs just about anywhere around the world. You can also use different
materials to make fishing aids as described in the following paragraphs:
Fishing line. Use pieces of tarpaulin or canvas. Unravel the
threads and tie them together in short lengths in groups of three or more
threads. Shoelaces and parachute suspension line also work well.
Fish hooks. No one at sea should be without fishing equipment, but
if you are, improvise hooks as shown in Chapter
Fish lures. You can fashion lures by attaching a double hook to
any shiny piece of metal.
Grapple. Use grapples to hook seaweed. You may shake crabs,
shrimp, or small fish out of the seaweed.
These you may eat or use for bait. You may eat seaweed itself, but only when
you have plenty of drinking water. Improvise grapples from wood. Use a heavy
piece of wood as the main shaft, and lash three smaller pieces to the shaft as
Bait. You can use small fish as bait for larger ones. Scoop the
small fish up with a net. If you don't have a net, make one from cloth of
some type. Hold the net under the water and scoop upward. Use all the guts
from birds and fish for bait. When using bait, try to keep it moving in the
water to give it the appearance of being alive.
Helpful Fishing Hints
16-59. Your fishing should be successful if you remember the following
Be extremely careful with fish that have teeth and spines.
Cut a large fish loose rather than risk capsizing the raft. Try to catch
small rather than large fish.
Do not puncture your raft with hooks or other sharp instruments.
Do not fish when large sharks are in the area.
Watch for schools of fish; try to move close to these schools.
Fish at night using a light. The light attracts fish.
In the daytime, shade attracts some fish. You may find them under your
Improvise a spear by tying a knife to an oar blade. This spear can help
you catch larger fish, but you must get them into the raft quickly or they
will slip off the blade. Also, tie the knife very securely or you may lose
Always take care of your fishing equipment. Dry your fishing lines, clean
and sharpen the hooks, and do not allow the hooks to stick into the fishing
16-60. As stated in Chapter
8, all sea birds are edible. Eat any birds you can catch. Sometimes birds
may land on your raft, but usually they are cautious. You may be able to attract
some birds by towing a bright piece of metal behind the raft. This will bring
the bird within shooting range, provided you have a firearm.
16-61. If a bird lands within your reach, you may be able to catch it. If the
birds do not land close enough or land on the other end of the raft, you may be
able to catch them with a bird noose. Bait the center of the noose and wait for
the bird to land. When the bird's feet are in the center of the noose, pull it
16-62. Use all parts of the bird. Use the feathers for insulation, the
entrails and feet for bait, and so on. Use your imagination.
MEDICAL PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH SEA SURVIVAL
16-63. At sea, you may become seasick, get saltwater sores, or face some of
the same medical problems that occur on land, such as dehydration, hypothermia,
or sunburn. These problems can become critical if left untreated.
16-64. Seasickness is the nausea and vomiting caused by the motion of the
raft. It can result in—
Extreme fluid loss and exhaustion.
Loss of the will to survive.
Others becoming seasick.
Attraction of sharks to the raft.
16-65. To treat seasickness—
Wash both the patient and the raft to remove the sight and odor of vomit.
Keep the patient from eating food until his nausea is gone.
Have the patient lie down and rest.
Give the patient seasickness pills if available. If the patient is unable
to take the pills orally, insert them rectally for absorption by the body.
Do not take seasickness pills if you are already seasick. They tend to make
the patient even sicker; always take seasickness pills before the symptoms
NOTE: Some people at sea have said that erecting a canopy or using the
horizon or a cloud as a focal point helped overcome seasickness. Others have
said that swimming alongside the raft for short periods helped, but extreme care
must be taken if swimming.
16-66. These sores result from a break in skin exposed to saltwater for an
extended period. They may also occur at the areas that your clothing binds
you—your waist, ankles, or wrist. The sores may form scabs and pus. Do not
open or drain the sores. Flush them with freshwater, if available, and allow to
dry. Apply an antiseptic, if available.
Immersion Rot, Frostbite, and Hypothermia
16-67. These problems are similar to those encountered in cold weather
environments. Symptoms and treatment are the same as covered in Chapter
Blindness or Headache
16-68. If flame, smoke, or other contaminants get in the eyes, flush them
immediately with saltwater, then with freshwater, if available. Apply ointment,
if available. Bandage both eyes 18 to 24 hours, or longer if damage is severe.
If the glare from the sky and water causes your eyes to become bloodshot and
inflamed, bandage them lightly. Try to prevent this problem by wearing
sunglasses. Improvise sunglasses if necessary.
16-69. This condition is a common problem on a raft. Do not take a laxative,
as this will cause further dehydration. Exercise as much as possible and drink
an adequate amount of water, if available.
16-70. This problem is not unusual and is due mainly to dehydration. It is
best not to treat it, as it could cause further dehydration.
16-71. Sunburn is a serious problem in sea survival. Try to prevent sunburn
by staying in the shade and keeping your head and skin covered. Use cream or lip
salve from your first-aid kit. Remember, reflection from the water also causes
sunburn in places where the sun usually doesn't burn you—tender skin under the
earlobes, eyebrows, nose, chin, and underarms.
16-72. Whether you are in the water or in a boat or raft, you may see many
types of sea life around you. Some may be more dangerous than others. Generally,
sharks are the greatest danger to you. Other animals, such as whales, porpoises,
and stingrays, may look dangerous, but really pose little threat in the open
16-73. Of the many hundreds of shark species, only about 20 species are known
to attack man. The most dangerous are the great white shark, the hammerhead, the
mako, and the tiger shark. Other sharks known to attack man include the gray,
blue, lemon, sand, nurse, bull, and oceanic white-tip sharks. Consider any shark
longer than 1 meter (3 feet) dangerous.
16-74. There are sharks in all oceans and seas of the world. While many live
and feed in the depths of the sea, others hunt near the surface. The sharks
living near the surface are the ones you will most likely see. Their dorsal fins
frequently project above the water. Sharks in the tropical and subtropical seas
are far more aggressive than those in temperate waters.
16-75. All sharks are basically eating machines. Their normal diet is live
animals of any type, and they will strike at injured or helpless animals. Sight,
smell, or sound may guide them to their prey. Sharks have an acute sense of
smell and the smell of blood in the water excites them. They are also very
sensitive to any abnormal vibrations in the water. The struggles of a wounded
animal or swimmer, underwater explosions, or even a fish struggling on a
fishline will attract a shark.
16-76. Sharks can bite from almost any position; they do not have to turn on
their side to bite. The jaws of some of the larger sharks are so far forward
that they can bite floating objects easily without twisting to the side.
16-77. Sharks may hunt alone, but most reports of attacks cite more than one
shark present. The smaller sharks tend to travel in schools and attack in mass.
Whenever one of the sharks finds a victim, the other sharks will quickly join
it. Sharks will eat a wounded shark as quickly as their prey.
16-78. Sharks feed at all hours of the day and night. Most reported shark
contacts and attacks were during daylight, and many of these have been in the
late afternoon. Some of the measures that you can take to protect yourself
against sharks when you are in the water are—
Stay with other swimmers. A group can maintain a 360-degree watch.
A group can either frighten or fight off sharks better than one man.
Always watch for sharks. Keep all your clothing on, to include
your shoes. Historically, sharks have attacked the unclothed men in groups
first, mainly in the feet. Clothing also protects against abrasions should
the shark brush against you.
Avoid urinating. If you must, only do so in small amounts. Let it
dissipate between discharges. If you must defecate, do so in small amounts
and throw it as far away from you as possible. Do the same if you must
16-79. If a shark attack is imminent while you are in the water, splash and
yell just enough to keep the shark at bay. Sometimes yelling underwater or
slapping the water repeatedly will scare the shark away. Conserve your strength
for fighting in case the shark attacks.
16-80. If attacked, kick and strike the shark. Hit the shark on the gills or
eyes if possible. If you hit the shark on the nose, you may injure your hand if
it glances off and hits its teeth.
16-81. When you are in a raft and see sharks—
Do not fish. If you have hooked a fish, let it go. Do not clean fish in
Do not throw garbage overboard.
Do not let your arms, legs, or equipment hang in the water.
Keep quiet and do not move around.
Bury all dead as soon as possible. If there are many sharks in the area,
conduct the burial at night.
16-82. When you are in a raft and a shark attack is imminent, hit the shark
with anything you have, except your hands. You will do more damage to your hands
than the shark. If you strike with an oar, be careful not to lose or break it.
16-83. You should watch carefully for any signs of land. There are many
indicators that land is near.
16-84. A fixed cumulus cloud in a clear sky or in a sky where all other
clouds are moving often hovers over or slightly downwind from an island.
16-85. In the tropics, the reflection of sunlight from shallow lagoons or
shelves of coral reefs often causes a greenish tint in the sky.
16-86. In the arctic, light-colored reflections on clouds often indicate ice
fields or snow-covered land. These reflections are quite different from the dark
gray ones caused by open water.
16-87. Deep water is dark green or dark blue. Lighter color indicates shallow
water, which may mean land is near.
16-88. At night, or in fog, mist, or rain, you may detect land by odors and
sounds. The musty odor of mangrove swamps and mud flats carry a long way. You
hear the roar of surf long before you see the surf. The continued cries of
seabirds coming from one direction indicate their roosting place on nearby land.
16-89. There usually are more birds near land than over the open sea. The
direction from which flocks fly at dawn and to which they fly at dusk may
indicate the direction of land. During the day, birds are searching for food and
the direction of flight has no significance.
16-90. Mirages occur at any latitude, but they are more likely in the
tropics, especially during the middle of the day. Be careful not to mistake a
mirage for nearby land. A mirage disappears or its appearance and elevation
change when viewed from slightly different heights.
16-91. You may be able to detect land by the pattern of the waves (refracted)
as they approach land (Figure 16-18). By traveling with
the waves and parallel to the slightly turbulent area marked "X" on
the illustration, you should reach land.
Figure 16-18. Wave Patterns About an Island
RAFTING OR BEACHING TECHNIQUES
16-92. Once you have found land, you must get ashore safely. To raft ashore,
you can usually use the one-man raft without danger. However, going ashore in a
strong surf is dangerous. Take your time. Select your landing point carefully.
Try not to land when the sun is low and straight in front of you. Try to land on
the lee side of an island or on a point of land jutting out into the water. Keep
your eyes open for gaps in the surf line, and head for them. Avoid coral reefs
and rocky cliffs. There are no coral reefs near the mouths of freshwater
streams. Avoid rip currents or strong tidal currents that may carry you far out
to sea. Either signal ashore for help or sail around and look for a sloping
beach where the surf is gentle.
16-93. If you have to go through the surf to reach shore, take down the mast.
Keep your clothes and shoes on to avoid severe cuts. Adjust and inflate your
life vest. Trail the sea anchor over the stem using as much line as you have.
Use the oars or paddles and constantly adjust the sea anchor to keep a strain on
the anchor line. These actions will keep the raft pointed toward shore and
prevent the sea from throwing the stern around and capsizing you. Use the oars
or paddles to help ride in on the seaward side of a large wave.
16-94. The surf may be irregular and velocity may vary, so modify your
procedure as conditions demand. A good method of getting through the surf is to
have half the men sit on one side of the raft, half on the other, facing away
from each other. When a heavy sea bears down, half should row (pull) toward the
sea until the crest passes; then the other half should row (pull) toward the
shore until the next heavy sea comes along.
16-95. Against a strong wind and heavy surf, the raft must have all possible
speed to pass rapidly through the oncoming crest to avoid being turned broadside
or thrown end over end. If possible, avoid meeting a large wave at the moment it
16-96. If in a medium surf with no wind or offshore wind, keep the raft from
passing over a wave so rapidly that it drops suddenly after topping the crest.
If the raft turns over in the surf, try to grab hold of it and ride it in.
16-97. As the raft nears the beach, ride in on the crest of a large wave.
Paddle or row hard and ride in to the beach as far as you can. Do not jump out
of the raft until it has grounded, then quickly get out and beach it.
16-98. If you have a choice, do not land at night. If you have reason to
believe that people live on the shore, lay away from the beach, signal, and wait
for the inhabitants to come out and bring you in.
16-99. If you encounter sea ice, land only on large, stable floes. Avoid
icebergs that may capsize and small floes or those obviously disintegrating. Use
oars and hands to keep the raft from rubbing on the edge of the ice. Take the
raft out of the water and store it well back from the floe's edge. You may be
able to use it for shelter. Keep the raft inflated and ready for use. Any floe
may break up without warning.
16-100. If rafting ashore is not possible and you have to swim, wear your
shoes and at least one thickness of clothing. Use the sidestroke or breaststroke
to conserve strength.
16-101. If the surf is moderate, ride in on the back of a small wave by
swimming forward with it. Dive to a shallow depth to end the ride just before
the wave breaks.
16-102. In high surf, swim toward shore in the trough between waves. When the
seaward wave approaches, face it and submerge. After it passes, work toward
shore in the next trough. If caught in the undertow of a large wave, push off
the bottom or swim to the surface and proceed toward shore as above.
16-103. If you must land on a rocky shore, look for a place where the waves
rush up onto the rocks. Avoid places where the waves explode with a high, white
spray. Swim slowly when making your approach. You will need your strength to
hold on to the rocks. You should be fully clothed and wear shoes to reduce
16-104. After selecting your landing point, advance behind a large wave into
the breakers. Face toward shore and take a sitting position with your feet in
front, 60 to 90 centimeters (2 or 3 feet) lower than your head. This position
will let your feet absorb the shock when you land or strike submerged boulders
or reefs. If you do not reach shore behind the wave you picked, swim with your
hands only. As the next wave approaches, take a sitting position with your feet
forward. Repeat the procedure until you land.
16-105. Water is quieter in the lee of a heavy growth of seaweed. Take
advantage of such growth. Do not swim through the seaweed; crawl over the top by
grasping the vegetation with overhand movements.
16-106. Cross a rocky or coral reef as you would land on a rocky shore. Keep
your feet close together and your knees slightly bent in a relaxed sitting
posture to cushion the blows against the coral.
PICKUP OR RESCUE
16-107. On sighting rescue craft approaching for pickup (boat, ship,
conventional aircraft, or helicopter), quickly clear any lines (fishing lines,
desalting kit lines) or other gear that could cause entanglement during rescue.
Secure all loose items in the raft. Take down canopies and sails to ensure a
safer pickup. After securing all items, put on your helmet, if available. Fully
inflate your life preserver. Remain in the raft, unless otherwise instructed,
and remove all equipment except the preservers. If possible, you will receive
help from rescue personnel lowered into the water. Remember, follow all
instructions given by the rescue personnel.
16-108. If the helicopter recovery is unassisted, do the following before
Secure all the loose equipment in the raft, accessory bag, or in pockets.
Deploy the sea anchor, stability bags, and accessory bag.
Partially deflate the raft and fill it with water.
Unsnap the survival kit container from the parachute harness.
Grasp the raft handhold and roll out of the raft.
Allow the recovery device or the cable to ground out on the water's
Maintain the handhold until the recovery device is in your other hand.
Mount the recovery device, avoiding entanglement with the raft.
Signal the hoist operator for pickup by placing one arm straight out to
the side with your thumb up while you hold on with the other. Vigorously
splash the water and then raise your arm in the "thumbs up"
signal. Once recovered, DO NOT reach for the helicopter or crewman to
try to assist him. Allow the aircrew personnel to pull you into the aircraft