Tuesday, March 13, 2012
It seems to NAUTICAL LOG that more and more we are seeing Masters of ships in trouble with the Law or what passes for it in many countries. Having spent some 60 years in a sea career of which 50 were actually spent serving at sea from Cadet to Master NAUTICAL LOG does not remember so many Masters being arrested in their own commands. Knowing the maritime industry all my life since my father was a ship manager with three specialised cargo vessels sailing across the Irish Sea one knows for a fact things were handled differently then than today. Back in the 50's a Master would be called to the Owners Office or if in a non-homeport to the Agents Office and an issue discussed. If it was serious there would be a quiet change of command and the vessel crew really did not know much of the details. Of course over time they seeped out but it was all quite dignified.
Nowadays it is just the opposite, make it all as public as possible and shame the Masters involved as much as possible. Two maritime blogs gCaptain® and Old Salt Blog® are a great sources of this type of information and just this morning we read a report in gCaptain® of yet another Master arrested in India for a supposed nautical "hit-and-run". At the MS Costa Concordia accident we had a publicly broadcast screaming match between the vessel Master and an Italian Coastguard Captain which did little credit to either gentleman. Even allowing for the fact that they are both passionate Italians in a highly emotionally charged situation it is not the way to handle such an incident.
Recently we had another brilliant mishandling of a situation when some US CBP agents told the USCG that they thought the Master of a vessel at anchor in the Columbia River area was drunk. The USCG then duly arrived and marched the Master off his non-US Flag State vessel to the County jail prior to removal to a Federal Facility. Since NAUTICAL LOG commented on this behaviour in another Blog we shall not belabour that issue again but the incident does not endear the United States, already disliked or often hated, in other countries. Yes! of course the incident must be dealt with but in a more dignified manner once the vessel is berthed alongside. Remember too the vessel was at anchor and therefore not underway so why not have the Chief Officer take Command as there would be a local Pilot boarding to berth the vessel.
Last year and the year before we had a whole series of USN Officers both male and female being relieved of Command and that is just completely disgraceful. So fellow Masters let us get our act together and shape up set ourselves higher standards and follow them. Maritime Authorities particularly US Maritime Authorities such as CBP and USCG give your Ratings, Petty Officers some training in social skills and perhaps you had better include the Officers as well, they are far far too impressed with there own importance.
Some 300 of our fellow seafarers are held hostage by pirates off the coast of Puntland, Somalia. They face mutilation and or death each and every hour of captivity with no rescue in sight.