Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

Shocked and ashamed by training ‘deficiencies’

Posted on | January 15, 2010 | No Comments

claytoonjpgExperience has taught us that most casualties are caused by a human agency. It is possible that we need to train seafarers to handle different tasks in a different way.  The use of lifesaving equipment is one example.

Therefore, when one reads that “shocking” deficiencies in lifeboat training and the use of a bewildering array of release hooks are putting the lives of seafarers at risk, I ask whether we should not have standardized equipment and, well, standardized training.

Also, when one reads of injury and loss of life, due to the lack of formal training requirements for work within enclosed spaces aboard tankers and chemical carriers, it does leave a bad taste in one’s mouth.

As to lifeboat drills, isn’t it annoying, to say the least, to read that: Richard Schifferli, the Paris MoU general secretary, has to say that “a drill can go wrong for a variety of reasons, but too often it is because crew assigned to a lifeboat are not familiar with that type of lifeboat release gear on board.”  Is this rocket science? Where’s the indignation?

On accidents in confined spaces: eleven senior master mariners point out, repeating the finding of the Marine Accident Investigators International Forum (MAIF) that, with 93 fatalities taking place in enclosed spaces aboard ship since 1997, its first area of  concern continues to be “lack of knowledge, training, and understanding of the dangers of entering enclosed spaces…”  Again, aren’t we ashamed?

I am reminded of the famous words of Inspector Renault, played by Claude Rains, in Casablanca: “I am shocked, shocked…”

Yes, we need better training, and rational conformity to a common design standard.  The training process begins at the cadet stage.  Or, at least, it should.  There must be meaningful drills, and not mere paper or certificate compliance.

Safety at sea, and particularly the protection of those who work in the merchant service, must in this Year of the Seafarer, be our number one priority.  Your comments on how we can improve formal training requirements and drills will be most welcome.


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