I’m writing this with some care, since I am trying to avoid upsetting anybody, but I realise that I have quite a bit of experience of American design and construction, Norwegian design and construction and Far East design and construction and handguns. I used to be what in UK is a “Class 1 Master Mariner” equivolent to what in the USA is an Unlimited Licence I think, but since the British don’t make any distinction between one sort of ship and another once it is more than 500 grt it was a necessary qualification to command an offshore vessel. I have also commanded a 1982 built Halter 180 footer advertised by the people who had it built as “North Sea ready”. This was out in the Arabian Gulf where it was ideal for the job of shifting little jack-ups, and I developed a lot of affection and respect for what was a simple craft ideal for the job it was doing, but “North Sea ready!” I would not have liked to take it to sea out of Aberdeen in winter. A ship I did take out of that port for a couple of years was a UT 734, built in Kristiansund.N in 1985. It was powered by two 9 cyinder Warsila diesels collectively developing 9000 bhp and it could deal with anything we had to face. I brought it out brand new, and we went on a rig shift after one day. Nothing went wrong. I have been involved in safety and warranty surveys of large number of semi-submersibles and jack-ups some of them built in the Far East and some in USA. The Earl & Wright designs were big but of minimal specification and were, in my view, less safe than the Norwegian designs. However no matter where the rigs were built they were all equipped with American sourced drilling systems. And as far as wonderful construction goes, liftboats are not generally used in UK waters, but one was sent over from the Gulf to be used by an American company’s UK subsidiary years ago. It took so long to get it up to a standard that the UK safety authorities would find acceptable that the company was bankrupted. Here I have to say that the British did not turn out to be any good at building rigs. The few they built were pretty difficult to work on. And more generally, Norwegian ship captains were great to work with, but the guys working on Norwegian rigs tended to subvert their own safety procedures to make life easier, British ship captains whinged a lot and it would be unfair of me even to make a judgement about Americans since it is many years since I worked with any and all we hear about now are their misfortunes. Oh – and the handguns. It used to be possible to get a licence for one in Britain and back in the 1970s when the Cold War was at its height I owned one, and practiced with it in case of the beakdown of civilisation after the bomb. But I realised that there would be more chance of the lady I was living with shooting me with it, so it was disposed of. And finally guys, has the Jones Act really been any good for American mariners? The Canadians and the Australians seem to have cabotage laws which are more effective.