Top-level captains and crew listened intently during Moran Yacht Management’s symposium in December. When the floor opened to the audience for questions, hands shot up. Everyone wanted to know more about how yachts were to comply with the new rules about hours of work and rest.
Although many international conventions were clarified, the panel of yacht managers, lawyers, flag state representatives and insurance brokers highlighted unresolved issues in megayacht regulations including hours of rest and annual leave allowance.
“It’s always going to be near impossible to get the prescribed hours of rest with the amount of crew on a particular size boat, generally 10 or less,” Capt. Craig Turnbull of M/Y Allegria said during a cocktail party after the event where the discussion continued. “It seems it will be up to captains to make it work.”
Capt. John Shawcross flew in from Thailand to attend the conference and agreed.
“I think the biggest issues will be implementing the new MLC code,” Shawcross said. “How can busy yachts comply to the logged hours of rest? How can we address this? More crew? Where do we fit them?”
Although Moran’s vessel and shore management software was the primary focus of the two-day seminar in Ft. Lauderdale, experts also addressed deficiencies found at audits, electronic charts and bridge navigational watch alarm systems to the group, which had assembled from not only the United States, but from England, the Caribbean, Europe, Russia and Thailand.
The panel fielded questions on what is commonly called hours of rest; guidelines created by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and International Maritime Organization (IMO) to standardize working arrangements and seafarers’ daily hours of work and rest, and to monitor compliance.
The MLC set limits on hours of work at a maximum of not more than 14 hours in any 24-hour period and 72 hours in any seven-day period.
Several captains in the audience said charter yachts are not able to comply due to trip schedules, back-to-back charters and limited crew quarters. One captain said crew have implicitly signed up for such conditions and should not have to comply.
Several on the panel of experts agreed that although yachts are different from container, cruise or other commercial vessels, all under the agreement must comply and have crew sign documents detailing their time.
These hours of rest documents will also be checked during audits, surveys and inspections, said David Goldie, large yacht manager with Moran Yacht Management UK.
“Owners may choose not to put their yachts into charter because there will be no way to have enough crew for rotations around the clock to fulfill the demands of many charter guests,” Capt. Denise Fox said.
Several on the panel suggested captains come up with suggestions in the way management companies, brokers and others in the industry represented the yachting industry during the adoption of the ILO crew accommodation convention.
“This may sound radical, but maybe we can address it in the charter contract,” Capt. Turnbull said.
Ways to comply must be created because the hours of work addresses fatigue, the primary cause of accidents, and the topic will not go away, several on the panel said.
Hiring dayworkers was offered as a possible option to allow crew time off. But further audience and panel discussion pointed out issues that must be solved first.
Kevin McLean, fleet manager with Moran Yacht Management, cited a Ft. Lauderdale yard that does not allow dayworkers due to insurance concerns. A captain asked if they could be described as crew during their work onboard and several panel members said if dayworkers are named as crew they may need to have training such as STCW, time off, insurance and other benefits.
A panel member said that failure to comply with hours of rest will be the first thing looked at during audits.
Annual leave allowance, as addressed in Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006, also brought earnest questions from the audience.
The MLC has increased the rights of the mariner with the Seafarer Employment Agreement that states all crew will be entitled to a minimum of 2.5 days annual leave per month. This equates to 30 days per 12 months of service. It also states that seafarers cannot take payment instead; they must have days off. And flag states may recognize public holidays to be time-off for crew.
Again, enforcement on yachts presents challenges, said captains in the audience. Plus, weekends during crew leave do not count toward the total of time off, meaning crew get six weeks off each year.
As an example, Gerry Fultz, a purser on large yachts, explained how such conventions will impact yachts with many crew.
“Mainly I see cost increases for the owners covering what will effectively be seven paid weeks of leave for each crew member,” Fultz said in an e-mail after the event. “For a crew of 30, that’s 210 weeks of vacation to be managed per annum whilst still meeting the manning requirements and further associated costs with temporary crew.
“Perhaps the end result will be a percentage decrease in crew salaries to defray the increased expense,” Fultz said. “For the under 45m yachts, compliance with the mandated hours of rest will be difficult, if not impossible.”
Mark Theissen of Telemar Yachting addressed the “deadman’s alarm,” officially Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm System (BNWAS). Unclear issues on this topic include whether the system must be on during anchor watch and at what times a captain may turn the system off.
“Until the shipping notice comes out about BNWAS, we won’t know,” Theissen said.
“BNWAS is supposed to be in operation whenever a vessel is ‘under way at sea’ (under way meaning not at anchor or made fast to the shore), but the interpretation of at sea will vary depending on local regulations where the vessel is currently located,” Theissen said by e-mail after the event.
BNWAS is a safety system made mandatory in SOLAS Chapter V, Regulation 19. The purpose of BNWAS is to monitor bridge activity and detect operator disability which could lead to marine accidents. It became effective on July 1, 2011 with exceptions for existing yachts until July 1, 2012 on yachts 150gt.
“One thing for sure, waiting to install is like buying window shutters during a hurricane,” Theissen said.
In reference to common deficiencies found during audits on yachts, Gene Sweeney, manager of maritime development for International Registries, said paperwork accounts for the majority of issues. Safety of navigation, ship certificates, crew certificates and other documentation must be monitored and kept up to date, he said.
Mandatory ISPS B13.3 training for crew was also offered during the seminar. Attending the presentation fulfilled requirements for ship security and crowd control under the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code under Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).
“Security is everyone’s business,” Moran’s Goldie said. “Vessels should incorporate security drills into regular drills, for example do a bomb search before a fire drill.”
At the end of the two days, captains and crew expressed satisfaction at the knowledge they gained during the event. But conversations continued on the points that remain unclear. And while many of the conventions are implemented, there are still non-compliant yachts.
Moran Yacht Management plans to host the symposium again next December. Many captains and crew will be expecting more answers before then.
Dorie Cox is associate editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at email@example.com.