As a mariner with 35+ years experience sailing with international crews. yes including many Filipinos, there is good and bad in all.
The skill as a Master is in bringing the good to the fore whilst losing the bad. The successful shipping Cos, particularly in the Far East, have been doing this for decades.
As Capt John states, the Colregs are the over-arching mandate under which we all sail. However there are regional variations, herd behaviors in which people (bridge teams & vessels) operate.
These are determined by climate, weather, traffic density, topography, legislation and regulation.
The was traffic operates around Japan, as an example, is subtly different to that in Bohai Wan, and totally different to being off, say, Santa Barbara.
The Merchant Mariners live and breathe in these conditions every day, every watch.
Yes, STCW dictates that vessels have a minimum manning certificate, but in the commercial world the ship managers, who survive on the crumbs off the owners table, see it as a maximum manning certificate. And, yes, there can be dispensations from flag to sail below that.
This means that bridge teams have to work efficiently and communicate effectively. You know what the traffic is doing and you develop a sixth sense, a 'feel' for what is happening and what is going to develop.
This is not learnt in a classroom but by bridge time in trafficked areas.
Seeing some naval vessels I wondered how much sea and watch time the guys get.
Yes they are trained to the N'th degree, but training is not doing. Career ambitions and a structure that is a self-supporting hierarchy means that, as was said in a company that I once worked for, people rise to the level of their incompetence
I have been in Bahrain and observed naval vessels where the bridge teams exceeded the entire complement of my 20,000 ton vessel.
With such large teams the message will be lost or corrupted, certainly delayed, and with every player being a small component the corporate responsibility is fractured into many small components. Thus the importance, value, pride & professionalism is also watered down.
When it foes well, all well and good, when it fails it falls apart and quickly.
Also, when looking at these huge bridge teams, the acronym soup that is the used on Naval vessels is incomprehensible to the average merchantman, particularly in Asia.
The IMO published the Standard Marine Communication Phrases (SCMP) as a common sense simple marine English that allows international seafarers to communicate effectively and concisely. By and large it works and it is the standard that STCW officers are examined. The only people not to use it seem to be the Naval community, of whatever flag.
Gcaptain serves the industry as a forum for those with a common interest in the professional mariners interest, with participants from many backgrounds and career paths. (In my Fathers House there are many Mansions)
That is / has made it such a respected resource in a relatively short time.
As the participants do have a vast breadth of experience then factors, perspectives, that investigators to incidents may have missed may be brought to light.
It is not about apportioning blame, it is about the how and the why.
Mariners will always speculate about maritime incidents. For anyone who has been at sea it is the nature of the job, you don't want to be the next statistic.