The External Audit consists of the Flag State or an outside Auditing Firm coming into the Company and going through all the Protocols, Procedures and associated Manuals. They may also hold a drill simulating a situation in one of the Company's vessels and observe the results of the Shore Staff dealing with it. NAUTICAL LOG has been through this experience with two very different Companies and believe me it is a long, difficult, trying day not made any easier by the subsequent debrief. The External Auditor then prepares a Report which causes another long, difficult, trying day full of office politics!!
Then there is the Internal Audit which consists of the Safety Manager holding an internal audit of his fellow Shore Staff personnel and Managers. This causes another long, difficult, trying day with the added hazard of internal office politics and telling your bosses what to do. At this point NAUTICAL LOG would like to present a quote from a well known handy-dandy ISM Guidelines book:
"In carrying out internal SMS audits companies measure the effectiveness of their own systems. Internal SMS audits are potentially more important than external audits for controlling the effectiveness of the system, since companies stand to gain or lose more than the external audit bodies if system fails. The company, its employees, shipmasters, officers and crews 'own' the safety management system and have a direct interest in ensuring that it is effective. As a result, the internal SMS audit, which represents these interests, should be at least equal to if not exceed the thoroughness of the external SMS audit process"
Hmm!! This is Lecture Hall Theory, in the environment of office operations and politics it is largely bovine scatology. Can you envision the Safety Manager in the subsequent debrief telling the Chairman of the Board that he does not actually have a clue what to do, released mostly the wrong data to his spokesperson and "twittered" during the entire incident. One gets the feeling that the author of the article in "gCaptain" about the Carnival Group Internal Audit envisioned this type of internal audit scenario.
Considering the current situation due to Costa Cruises an External Audit of the Carnival Group is the only one that will be free of an internal "whitewash" impression and only then if a very far removed Company is chosen to do the External Audit. With its asinine "sail-bys" the Costa Cruises is being defiant, acting indecently towards those who have lost loved ones, and displaying bravado/machismo. The Carnival Group has no need of more problems by adding the appearance of a phony Audit however decent the Manager in charge of such an Internal Audit is personally.
Many of our fellow seafarers do not have the opportunity to have an audit, twitter or much else. They are the 300 held captive by pirates off the coast of Puntland, Somalia, now hostages and could be murdered at any moment. There is not even the slightest suggestion that it might be a good idea to plan their rescue. More airtime is given to airhead girls in their twenties defending Italian Masters in their fifty's and clarifying how they can accidentally fall into a convenient lifeboat. God (if there is one) help all present day seafarers in this madding world.