BG Verkehr / Dienststelle Schiffssicherheit
Seeärztlicher Dienst
Brandstwiete 1
20457 Hamburg

Annelie Ewen
Phone: +49 40 361 37-252
Fax: +49 40 361 37-333

Beate Bahl
Phone: + 49 40 361 37-338
Fax: +49 40 361 37-333

Maritime Medical Handbook

Emergency manager and manual rolled into one – the German Maritime Medical Handbook

In Germany, emergency response takes, on average, about eight minutes to get to the emergency site after an emergency call is made. On a seagoing vessel in the middle of the ocean, it might take days till professional medical assistance is possible from the outside. A medical emergency at sea means: no rescue service, no hospital, no doctors close by.

Only in very rare cases are ship's doctors on board; they are only mandatory on ships with more than 100 persons and when the voyage lasts longer than three days. Therefore on almost all merchant ships, masters and navigational officers are responsible for medical care. The Maritime Medical Handbook by the Maritime Medical Service of the BG Verkehr assists in this challenging task.

The Maritime Medical Handbook is part of the mandatory equipment on board of seagoing vessels flying the German flag. This standard work of maritime medicine optimally complements the other medical equipment on board, which also includes the emergency cards.


This reference book is aimed at people without medical experience, written for the layperson and does not need Latin specialist terms. All injuries and illnesses are systematically presented in four steps Causes – Symptoms – Treatment – Medication. They are directly linked to conditions on board a ship.

The Maritime Medical Handbook is divided into different sections: Part A describes emergencies. Part B explains complex treatment measures step-by-step with lots of drawings, pictures and photographs. Part C contains all injuries and illnesses that are not a life-threatening emergency. Part D – Protection of health on board – focusses on hygienic principles and legal requirements.

250 photos, 100 drawings and 20 videos support the step-by-step treatment of injured or sick persons on board. The videos about emergency measures and basic medical treatment techniques can be quickly and easily accessed via a QR Code printed inside the book. One video, for example, shows how to put on personal protective equipment (PPE) in case of a suspected infectious disease (such as COVID-19).

The Maritime Medical Handbook is available in German and English and can be ordered online at