Relatively speaking, yes the equipment is cheaper due to the owner’s desire to spend a minimal amount and mostly only on what’s legally required (and of course some owners need to be forced to even do the legal minimum), but that IMO “wheelmark” has a pretty big price tag once it gets stamped on an item.
Couple people on watch, yeah. So a naval vessel should be able to do more with more (in terms of people available). Instead, I get the impression that they do less with more.
I aim to make sure I never am in a position to be needing the Coast Guard or NTSB “excuse me,” since that just won’t fly. That being said, I do feel sorry that the crews of these two merchant vessels had a close encounter of a navy kind. Even if in the long run a court finds those vessels and officers at minimal fault, it’s a bad situation for them.