El Faro - Regs and the Jones Act


#39

Does Norway still use a second registry?


#40

[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;196359]During the DWH oil spill clean-up there was propaganda attack on the Jones Act, here’s an article: The Right’s Faux Jones Act Outrage. The argument basically is that labor unions in the U.S. are so powerful that they hindered the clean-up.

That should give some kind of idea what mariners are up against. The fear is that if the pro-Jones Act political coalition falls apart, the cabotage will be lost as well.

What are your views on this?[/QUOTE]

It is not Cabotage Laws that is something wrong with, most countries have them. It is when all kinds of other things gets added on, like where ships are built and protection of seamen’s rights and working conditions.

Nor is it anything wrong with having a strong Unions, as long as they do what they are supposed to; represent the interest of the workers in negotiations with the employers on wages and working conditions.

They are also supposed to represent the interest of worker to ensure that the Government maintain a healthy regulatory regime for the safety of their members and to ensure that workers are adequately covered for health, welfare and social benefits.

To get involved in running “Crewing Agencies” are NOT the task of Unions!!! (Except in America, that is)

In Australia they have a VERY strong Maritime Union (MUA)but hardly any ships to serve on, except by forcing foreign ships working in the Offshore industry to take Australian crews, which is similar to what you all wants for GoM. The present Government wants to break the MUA stranglehold to make the Oil & Gas industry more cost effective, but so far they have not succeeded.

The Unions in Norway are also VERY strong, with nearly ALL workers, incl. some foreign workers, as members. (Some trades are “closed shops”)They also have a strong political position through the Labour Party.
The Seaman’s Unions are representing Norwegian Seafarers, even if the are serving on foreign flag but Norwegian Owned/Operated ships and foreign seafarers on Norwegian ships. Foreigners serving on NIS ships are represented through ITF, where the Norwegian Unions has a strong position.

They do what they are supposed to do and stay out of business and

      • Updated - - -

Touchee. A lot here have problems understanding when I’m making a joke, or being sarcastic, apparently.

On this we agree.

If you agree that nationality have no bearing on capabilities, then it must be race you are referring to in the below?

Now how far back did you have to go to make this claim? As the kids say, let’s unpack this statement. My comment was based on my observation that despite having identical COC’s mariners from different nations have different skills and knowledge. My further observation is that some of these mariners plateau out in my opinion. They come with entry level skills below average but clearly must meet minimum STCW because they have the COC. You can spend years training them and coaching them and performance improves - up to a point. Then it levels off and you have a perfectly good watchstander and maintenance performer but troubleshooting, advanced operations, higher levels of planning/administration not so good. They either lack the capability or desire to progress in these areas. I do not think it was denigrating to suggest perhaps it had something to do with a general level of education prior to their even considering going to sea. Who can say for sure. Much of what you have publicly claimed as your experience in relation to these what? non-western? mariners seems to be based on working aboard OSV type vessels or towing. So your interaction seems to be of a short duration per occurrence. Have you had to supervise them as a superior officer, performed their evaluations, developed their training plans, watched them hit their limits of development? If you have can you honestly say you don’t notice these things? I’m just saying there is a difference between watching them operate a ship or plant over a short time and their overall performance and capabilities in troubleshooting, crisis management etc. Or maybe it is your opinion from the view of a ship owner? Is it you experience as an owner that you have operated top to bottom with mariners from these countries and you have not noted any issues? I’m not talking about rig hands or even unlicensed crew but officers on big deep draft ships.

Yes the remark about uneducated Masters on OSVs in S.E.Asia go back a bit. I was “Navigator” for Bayou company back in 1970, but quit when I found out that they were presenting my newly minted Masters Licence to clear out all their boats when leaving Singapore. (Singapore Marine Department required a valid license, while US did not require one, if the boats were under 300 GRT)
I turned down the offer of a Skipper’s job on a boat under building as i did not see being Master on 5 boats simultanuously as “only a formality”.
After that I worked with US flag boats as “Insuranceman”/Rigmover/Warranty Surveyor from 1974 to 1990, with a period as Master on a Drillship of 1.5 years (1978-80)
Since then I have held various positions in Management of rigs, boats and barges, returning to the role of Rigmover/Warranty Surveyor/Marine Consultant/Marine Adviser/ Towmaster/Loadmaster at times after that,until I finally retired (or being retired by the present situation) in 2016. So yes, I do have a long and varied experience working with Americans as well as other nationalities at all levels.

Of course there are exceptions to this even in my own experience. I am thinking of a specific Filipino engineer who could have sailed 1st on any motor vessel I’ve worked on and a Bangladeshi electrical foreman in a Singapore shipyard I would have stolen in a heartbeat for an electrician. For me they have been few and far between that come up to or exceed even the most mundane US licensed engineer. Maybe it’s just that our two experiences are different and we have come to different conclusions. Mine are they cost less than US seamen and they have limits in technical skills and knowledge. This is not bragging or pro US view just the facts of my direct experience.

I don’t know if you have noticed, but the majority of ships, large or small, are sailing without a single American Mariner, Manager or anything else in sight. Many are manned by all Filipinos, Indians or Indonesian, not to mention the number of Chinese manning vessels under FOCs, as well as a very large Chinese flag fleet.
I think it is disingenuous to assume that these people are less able to learn, or to manage the ships they serve on than any other nationality.(Or race??) It is my experience that you find fast and slow learners among all nationalities and races. Though there are admittedly some differences based on upbringing and opportunities to get a good education. (That you probably find within the US as well??)

Now you on the other hand in response to my observation, in place of simply refuting it or adding to it with your own views of these mariners you chose to attack an American minority group. And you didn’t even give a trigger warning! I just hope they are not too scarred to carry on.

I suspect the Coonasses will survive. They are used to worse from their fellow countryman. But I stay away from any Cajune joints here in Singapore, just in case.

My comment was not about false COC’s but the fact that COC’s issued by different states may not indicate the same level of skills, knowledge, competence, performance. I had no idea false COC’s were a problem actually. What nations are participating in that fraud? I’m seriously curious about that.

It is not necessarily any flag state that issue false, or “undervalued” CoC by some corrupt officials, like occured in the old days, (STCW took care of that)I wouldn’t say it is not possible though, that is why outfits like Check-it exists.
PS> In 1973 I took a “pierhead jump” on and old scrap ship from Singapore to Kaohsiung. After passing Horsburgh L/H I found out that the Pinoy Chief Officer had a false license printed in Saigon and the two Indosesin officers had bought theirs corruptly. I decided to go on along the long route for “Slow Steamers” during the NE Monsoon, with the strong order to call me if anything got close. At one stage, (skirting a Tayphoon) I spent 56 hrs. on the bridge. (The only time in my life I have used anything but coffee to stay awake)

OK no more Jones Act from me but what does “obsolete licensing system” mean? My national license has been endorsed by the Marshall Islands, Panama, Cyprus and Liberia at various times. These nations all accepted a USCG document as basis to issue one of their own. How obsolete is that? Then again my thesis is these flags do anything for money so maybe that doesn’t mean anything after all. We know it wouldn’t work the other way around don’t we? So what is obsolete about our system? You have to be a citizen to get one? The testing, the sea time requirements?

Those who have Unlimited, or even some limited licenses that meet STCW standard has no problem, (within those limitations) But all those holders of some “special” USCG issued licenses are restricted to US vessels and whatever trade is covered. These licenses are not automatically accepted anywhere else.

BTW; Two of the Registers you mentioned are run by International Registers Inc. from their office in Va. and by mostly Americans. You can check their qualifications and records here: https://www.register-iri.com/
They are also among the best run registers, with a better safety and detention rate than the regular US Flag register.


#41

[QUOTE=ombugge;196375]It is not Cabotage Laws that is something wrong with, most countries have them. It is when all kinds of other things gets added on, like where ships are built and protection of seamen’s rights and working conditions.
[/QUOTE]

If the other provisions of the Jones Act are stripped away the current pro-Jones Act coalition will fracture. If that happens the question is; will pro-Jones Act interest groups still have sufficient political power to fully protect cabotage?


#42

[QUOTE=DavidMT;196374]Does Norway still use a second registry?[/QUOTE]

Yes the NIS register is very much alive. In fact it has just been expanded to allow CSVs under NIS register to operate on the Norwegian Continental Shelf and North Sea ferries to register under NIS. Ships registered in EU countries are allowed to operate on the Norwegian coast and v.v.

Commercial vessels under NIS operating in international trade is competing against all other open register, but have to comply with Norwegian rules and regulations in full, which is a hell of a lot tougher than what USCG can throw at you.

Why does anybody register their ships in NIS then???
Because of the reputation of the register for quality, safety and lack of labour disputes, among other considerations.
Does any US Shipowners register under NIS?? Yes, but only those who appreciate the value of quality and safety.
Does any of the “Bayou boys” register vessels under NIS??? No, but they buy or register companies in Norway with vessels under ordinary Norwegian register (NOR) because it give them access to the Norwegian market and high quality vessels and management.


#43

[QUOTE=ombugge;196375]
If you agree that nationality have no bearing on capabilities, then it must be race you are referring to in the below?[/QUOTE]
Well oh my dear, are you serious? This is a most diabolic linkage. How could you link my agreeing with your statement that nationality has no bearing on capabilities to this false accusation of yours against me of being a racist?

Are you really incapable of seeing that certain societies may be disadvantaged when compared to others and this has nothing to do with race? And is not judgmental of their cultures or religions either.

Are you really incapable of seeing that while nationality is not a barometer of capabilities it might be that personnel from any given nation under certain circumstances, might have limited potentials?

Yes the remark about uneducated Masters on OSVs in S.E.Asia go back a bit. I was “Navigator” for Bayou company back in 1970, but quit when I found out that they were presenting my newly minted Masters Licence to clear out all their boats when leaving Singapore. (Singapore Marine Department required a valid license, while US did not require one, if the boats were under 300 GRT)
I turned down the offer of a Skipper’s job on a boat under building as i did not see being Master on 5 boats simultanuously as “only a formality”.
After that I worked with US flag boats as “Insuranceman”/Rigmover/Warranty Surveyor from 1974 to 1990, with a period as Master on a Drillship of 1.5 years (1978-80)
Since then I have held various positions in Management of rigs, boats and barges, returning to the role of Rigmover/Warranty Surveyor/Marine Consultant/Marine Adviser/ Towmaster/Loadmaster at times after that,until I finally retired (or being retired by the present situation) in 2016. So yes, I do have a long and varied experience working with Americans as well as other nationalities at all levels.

So while you have elaborated on your resume you have not answered my questions. It would appear at least for that 1.5 year drillship position you should have been in a position to observe up close and over some time the capabilities of mariners and evaluate their performance. But you do not make comment about the aspects of their development or potential that I was remarking on. And more importantly comparing it to the same for the ex-pats aboard. So either you had the unique experience of having the best crew in the world or you avoided the question for some reason.

I don’t know if you have noticed, but the majority of ships, large or small, are sailing without a single American Mariner, Manager or anything else in sight. Many are manned by all Filipinos, Indians or Indonesian, not to mention the number of Chinese manning vessels under FOCs, as well as a very large Chinese flag fleet.
I think it is disingenuous to assume that these people are less able to learn, or to manage the ships they serve on than any other nationality.(Or race??) It is my experience that you find fast and slow learners among all nationalities and races. Though there are admittedly some differences based on upbringing and opportunities to get a good education. (That you probably find within the US as well??)

Ah here we come to the nub of it all. Nice try but you have misrepresented the point once again. There is no inconsistency between pointing out certain mariners might have limits to the upper end of their potential capabilities and the fact that there are ships that safely navigate with mariners from the same source. Pointing out there are people with poor educations from all nations does not refute the fact that very specific populations of mariners may be disadvantaged in terms of formal and informal education and that this might have something to do with limiting their ultimate potential. Not a universal truth, not overlooking the drive for excellence of any given seaman from any nation with the desire to excel.

Let’s just remember why are we having this discussion at all. In my opinion you have set up a false equivalency that all holders of the same COC are completely 100% equal in every way. I disagree with you and have given my reasons while still keeping an open mind and open to other arguments. You have made only general statements that “all is well” and accused me of racism.

Now let me say you may find if just good “fun” to accuse someone you do not know of racism. That’s where I draw the line though. So even though there are numerous questions above please consider them only rhetorical (as if you have ever answered a direct question anyway). I find that your signal to noise ratio has just exceeded what I can tolerate. This and some other posts in this same thread only serve to demonstrate you have hoisted your troll flag clear to the top of the mast now. Good luck and sayonara.


#44

I’m sorry you fell down that hole but please don’t leave we are just about to have tea.


#45

OK time to cut this discussion, since we basically agree anyhow that:

  • Race and religion does not decide the capability to learn for seafarers, or anyone else for that matter.
    Educational and social background does affect the ability, though. (Universal truth)

  • CoCs issued per STCW only reflects basic minimum knowledge and education. Skills are gained by experience, although not everybody gain at the same rate. Some NEVER learn, regardless how long experience they have gained. (You can do something wrong for years and call it “experience”)

  • Not EVERYBODY can become Master, or Chief Engineer, nor would everybody want to.

BTW; The Drillship I was Master on in 1978-80 had 19 different nationalities in the “expat” crew. It was deliberate and avoided any “tribal fighting”. (Only one was American, but he had lived in Singapore for many years)

I did NOT intend to offend you by pointing out that if nationality didn’t matter, then mayb race did. Sorry if you took it otherwise.

PS> in 1968-70 I was Chief Officer on small Island Trampers in the South Pacific. We had PNG and Solomon Islanders as ratings and learnt the hard way to mix the tribes to avoid problems.

Yes, they had a low educational standard (actually none) and you couldn’t expect them to learn too quickly, but if you were stranded on a jungle island you would have liked to have their knowledge of how to survive on what you could find in the nature.

My avatar is one of those ships:

She ended her days on GabGab Beach, Guam after blowing ashore in a Typhoon in 1976:


#46

According to the hearing transcripts steam ships were exempt from complying with ECA (Emission Control Area) requiments to burn low sulfur fuel. Another example relaxing regs for old vessels.


#47

Yes and no.

The witness is Mr. Morrell, vice president of marine operations - commercial. (Remember operations does not mean what we might think it does - its a maintenance position in this case).

Mr. Kucharski: I believe that you mentioned that the steam vessels were exempted from ECA requirements?

WIT: Yes.

Mr. Kucharski: Was this of any economic benefit to Tote that they were exempt from the ECA requirements?

WIT: Umm, could be. I mean other operators like the gentlemen in the office said that Horizon Line, they operated steam vessels too, so I don’t think there’s any market advantage. We operate steam vessels, Horizon Line operated steam vessels in the trade, so it was the same. I don’t think so.

Mr. Kucharski: You mentioned that to be exempt from the ECA requirements makes you run heavy fuel, is that correct?

WIT: Well we didn’t have to burn the 1 percent sulfur which has increased again to .1 percent, so no, we’re exempt until 2020.

Mr. Kucharski: So did the ships burn a fuel that was higher in sulfur content?

WIT: They were burning HFO traditional fuels.

Mr. Kucharski: So was that like cheaper than the higher sulfur than the low sulfur?

WIT: I’m sorry, I lost you there.

Mr. Kucharski: Was it less expensive to use the low
sulfur?

WIT: Low sulfur is higher, it’s more expensive.

Mr. Kucharski: You mentioned that to be exempt from the ECA requirements makes you run heavy fuel, is that correct?

WIT: Well we didn’t have to burn the 1 percent sulfur which has increased again to .1 percent, so no, we’re exempt until 2020.

Mr. Kucharski: So did the ships burn a fuel that was higher in sulfur content?

WIT: They were burning HFO traditional fuels.

Mr. Kucharski: So was that like cheaper than the higher sulfur than the low sulfur?

WIT: I’m sorry, I lost you there.

Mr. Kucharski: Was it less expensive to use the low sulfur?

WIT: Low sulfur is higher, it’s more expensive.

It appears Kucharski is trying to make the point that normal boiler bunkers will be cheaper than any low sulfur fuel but the witness seems to be saying 0.1% costs more than 1.0%. In the end his words do reflect that what they are burning costs less than low sulfur.

At any rate this is from USCG/EPA FAQ

All vessels powered by propulsion boilers (steamships) which were not originally designed for continued operation on marine distillate fuel or natural gas are exempt from the ECA’s sulfur requirementsbeginning on 1 January 2013 through January 1, 2020(MEPC.202(62)).U.S. flagged Great Lakes steamships(operatingexclusively on the Great Lakes)have been exempted by the EPA through 2025. USCG Marine Inspectorsor Port State Control Officers will notcheck for ECA compliance onboard U.S. or foreign flagged steamships during the interim period prior to 1 January 2013.

There is no distinction between steam and motor vessels with regard to low sulfur fuel supply requirements in MARPOL Annex VI that I can find. That’s what you’re supposed to burn according to the content level and whether in the global or ECA areas as laid out in tables (Regulation 14). Tote is hanging their hat on this exemption by USCG/EPA based on “boilers not designed to burn MGO in continuous operation”. Fair enough as long as the ship is well maintained and in good material condition. So many rules are grandfathered into service by keel laid dates. I don’t see this as especially controversial. Especially keeping in mind this would eventually become moot point as the bunker market comes to supply only low sulfur fuels anyway. Or due to special handling and scarcity the costs for boiler bunkers actually goes up.

And below he states there is NO advantage in operating older ships. Really? Even overlooking all the obvious reasons including the cost of fuel and the possibility the ships must have paid for themselves by now? Some members of this forum have stated all old ships have higher costs of maintenance and operation period. Here is one owner who feels there was no advantage nor I presume disadvantage. I don’t think the board will get very far with conclusions based on age alone unless the automated maintenance management system records turn up something in the machinery history not in the testimony.

Mr. Kucharski: Was there any economic benefits, as piggy backing on Mr. Roth- Roffy’s question about the ships, running 40 year old ships. Was there any other economic benefits for running older ships?

WIT: I don’t believe – I’m not aware of any.

Mr. Kucharski: Regulatory or anything like that?

WIT: Nothing, I mean, no. I mean we were governed by the rules, the vessel is under COI and classification standards, and no, I don’t think so.


Fight to Keep The Jones Act
#48

The exemption for steam propulsion boilers not designed for continuous use of distillate or natural gas until 2020 is in MARPOL Annex VI, reg 14, par 4 subpar 4. You looking in the current edition?


#49

I’d say in general that keeping an older vessel in service is a risk factor that to some extent can be mitigated to acceptable levels with careful inspections and maintenance.

In the case of the El Faro there are a couple issues, one is the wastage found on the El Yunque cargo hold ventilators, the CG has said the vents were likely a path of water ingress.

The second issue is how the lengthening and conversion from RO/RO to RO/CON impacted stability. At conversion the El Faro was allowed to use less stringent SOLAS requirements for righting arm for wind heel than required for new builds. From what I recall those ships used to carry trailers on that upper deck. Lot more sail area on containers stacked four high.

Don’t know if it’s a requirement or not but I’ve seen on newer ships a OPEN/CLOSE indicator board in the wheel house for below deck WTD and scuttles.


#50

Thanks for the citation. I was wondering if USCG or EPA would go out on their regulatory own. Thanks.


#51

They did, who do you think proposed it at IMO? It was largely self-serving, considering the few ECAs at the time and number of steam propelled ships under US flag, both in and out of the GL. In their submission to IMO, they made an interesting note that the last non-LNG carrier propelled by steam was built in 1984. They also noted that modifying existing boilers to take low sulfur would just keep them around longer.


#52

[quote=“Jamesbrown, post:51, topic:43375”]
In their submission to IMO, they made an interesting note that the last non-LNG carrier propelled by steam was built in 1984.[/quote]

Were those the Australian coal-fired bulk carriers?


#53

ATLANTIC STAR, cruise ship.


#54

My point is that if the goal is to keep older ships out of service there are other, better ways to do it than ending the Jones Act.

If the goal is to end the Jones Act, well there are other arguments that can be made. Maybe the opportunity to “use” this loss was too tempting but to me it seems like a sleazy way to advance an argument.


#55

Re: Regs

Can’t help thinking re: El Faro that part of the USCG enquiry is investigating it’s own regulatory reigme, most other competent authorities have an independent investigatory agency E.g. MAIB in the UK but also the remit of the NTSB. The USCG is not comprised of those of commercial shipping experience QED.

For discussion, not blame…


#56

This has pretty much been the case since the Bureau of Marine Inspection was folded into the USCG in 1942.

As El Faro met the definition of a significant marine casualty the NTSB was in the lead. They are civilian but that does not guaranty experienced mariners will make up the board. The NTSB does seem to be organized around modes of transport so you don’t have air inspectors investigating marine incidents. And they seem to have sub specialties so human factors vice technical matters. Having a multi disciplinary approach is not all bad but from the questioning you can tell they don’t have many guys with recent sailing experience.

As far as doing something about it - it probably is not the best time to suggest more government agencies or an increase in budget to split out accident investigation from other aspects of licensing, marine inspection in general, etc. Shift it to a revised MARAD? Not very likely in these budgetary times. Maybe just make all marine incidents come under NTSB but have seats on all boards for a USCG and mariner reps and fund them accordingly. The investigation as to cause being one thing and the USCG reps can make their own recommendation as to credential actions.

Not sure but can lifting a mariners credential be an outcome of a Board of Inquiry led by NTSB or is a separate proceeding needed? How does it work in the aviation world. The NTSB recommends a license revocation to FAA or does FAA conduct its own hearings?

You are bringing up a line of questioning that was explored a bit though. That being this whole ACP thing. Where the classification society performs inspections for the USCG (flag state administration). Was the El Faro in good material condition, was it inspected closely enough? Is the USCG going to question itself or ABS intensively on the subject? This is an area I look forward to reading about in the final report.


#57

Well, I have noticed that NTSB reports do not apportion blame or recommend punitive actions.

However if you look at the end notes of the USCG incident investigation reports, they will sometimes list punitive actions taken, including actions against mariner credenials.


#58

Class Societies have long been performing statutory surveys for other flag states, even the US (Load Line specifically). I believe that there was a program to extend that to SOLAS about the time of the MARINE ELECTRIC sinking. . . but that was before my time with Class. . . I also know that they were looking to have Class do SOLAS again, about the time I was leaving. To be honest, there is some overlap between a regular Class Survey and a SOLAS inspection, depending on the Certificate. (Safety Construction, Safety Equipment, etc.). Good questions, though. . .