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Captains weigh in on ISM and safety management

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Read the Triton Survey: Safety procedures in place on yachts, not all compliant. And read comments on the topic below:

  • Our crew is already safety conscious. We do more than would be required with ISM. Who needs the extra paperwork?
  • After more than 20 years as captain and officer onboard both smaller and large yachts, I have created mini-ISM systems for under 500 ton yachts. It is doable. A captain just has to be organized, proactive and a leader to crew. The captain also has to create a clear message to the owner how important this is to have the time to accomplish. The problem is that the average captain does not have the leadership, organizational or proactive capabilities to accomplish this.
  • On a larger boat with many crew, senior crew can’t be everywhere to direct actions so training and independent thinking become more important.
  • Safety is our primary concern; safety of the guests, safety of the crew, safety of the vessel, in that order.
  • There needs to be a lower size limit for this type of stuff. What is that size? I don’t honestly know. Safety is good; going overboard (no pun intended) on smaller private vessels’ rules and regulations is just not going to work.
  • I’m just glad I don’t have to operate under ISM.
  • It’s proven that it [ISM] is a better way to live. Teaches situational awareness.
  • It works for cruise ships and others, but it’s too much at the yacht level, especially when you are private and do not charter. A few things are good and necessary, but a good manager/captain can handle these things.
  • In many cases, it is almost impossible to equip and follow the rules on a small private yacht. The yacht I run is only 128 feet but is 340 ITC. We are strictly pleasure and private use of the owner along the East Coast and maybe the Bahamas. The idea that we would have to comply with rules designed for large, world-traveling vessels because an architect’s pencil stroke resulted in 40 registered tons is ridiculous.
  • Enforced safety is the only really effective safety. The challenge is to keep ahead of the paperwork.
  • As a whole, it is a good thing. The down side to mini-ISM is that we have to do all the same things as full ISM (although I feel the inspectors may give you an easier time on mini-ISM inspections) without a DP or shore-based management, so there is a lot of responsibility in getting the system set up and correct without support. Mini-ISM should not exist. If ISM is to be implemented, it should be with shore-based management to improve consistency and easier to operate on yachts with smaller crews.
  • We are 260GT and didn’t really take the time to study ISM. No need to complicate our procedures, which have been in place for so long and work out perfectly.
  • I understand the need for ISM on larger commercial yachts. They have large crew that turn over frequently necessitating the need for written policies, procedures, and rules. Our vessel at 298 tons, 130 feet is a simple vessel to organize and run. Experience counts more for safety than a plan drawn up by agents who don’t have a clue how our vessel is used.
  • Is there room for an inexperienced crew to get their hands on a vessel this size and have tragic consequences? Of course, but should the many suffer the inadequacies of the few?
  • What this plan takes away from safety is cognizant thought of ones own ship. What I mean is, the captain is now given a plan that he can follow to a T and be exonerated from responsibility. All he has to concern himself with is what is on the plan. He is not made to think of the special circumstances that may be unique to his vessel. This and most regulations have been the death of common sense.
  • ISMs and other governing regulatory plans … insist that everyone is equal and capable of any job as long as they follow their rules. Experience has taught me over and over again this isn’t right. I applaud any efforts to make the high seas safer, but action for the sake of acting ,,, sounds good and feels good to those participating but doesn’t keep unqualified people out of dangerous positions. And it is people that make our seas safe, not paper.
  • Yachts need to have more training and emphasis on safety, and a safety management system is the way to do that. Is it time consuming? Yes. Will it only work with 100 percent commitment from the top? Yes. But guess what? That is a fundamental part of our job as master of a vessel. No difference if you work in one sector or another, you are still able to affect safety and environmental protection, no matter if the vessel is 300GT or 30,000GT.
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About Dorie Cox

Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton.

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