Beard Ban At MSC

Flyer69… There was more to the issue than just respirators. It was
SCBA’s and Gas Masks as well. But just to enlighten you on recent
incidents. It was challenged on a ship by a civmar during an
inspection who had a beard, goatee actually and he put all the above
on with no hair crossing the sealing surface as it says in the
admirals memo and had no air escaping from his SCBA or any unit and
maintained a seal.
That discovery was recorded and documented with the Inspectors name
and sent to MSC. It was pushed under the rug, silenced, discarded and
a NEW “cover yo ass” statement was given, it’s now called “Grooming
Standards”. It was proven that there is no safety issue when you use
However, its not over… These new Grooming Standards will have to be
approved after review. What will become the issue, are the WOMEN of
MSC who have hair standards different from the Navy Standards, which
is where this admiral is pulling his info. Our CAC cards say CIVILIAN.

I am currently fronting a bead. Nothing said.

To enlighten you: SCBA are positive pressure respirators. You didn’t read the link very closely, I see.

I am skeptical that a goatee does not cross the sealing surface, would like to see this individual repeatedly don and doff the facepiece and see how he does then. Having administered fit tests, I can see how an isolated, controlled instance could be “recorded and documented” as having been a successful fit test.
But, put that same goatee’d individual in SCBA in a firefighting situation with heavy exertion in an IDLH atmosphere and I think the results will not be the same. He is then exposing himself to danger, as well as the shipmates who may have to rescue him.

After reading this, I assume people know that beards will grow back? Having worked on H2S wells with 200 people onboard at any given time, with shaving and fit testing being the norm, never once do I recall this type of crying from working age adults. I guess with a tangible hazard, the tune is a little different.


When working with anything that can outright kill you, I will happily don a spacesuit with any kind of grooming standard you wish to apply, if required.

The issues at the beginning of this (now quite old) thread remain the same. Wanting a beard or facial hair takes a back seat to the safety requirements of the vessel and your employer. They say that it is a condition of employment and you follow suit. If you don’t like it, go get a job on a yacht where you can work barefoot and get a killer suntan to compliment your beard.

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How does this work in countries where pretty much everyone has a beard, anyway?

Exactly! There’s a tug company in the gulf that made a lot of people scream the same way as this over their no visible tattoos and absolutely no tobacco use policies. But you know what? Even though a lot of people screamed and carried on like entitled brats because they didn’t like it, there were people that met those criteria and filled the jobs.

Maybe some info is lacking here. Our bottles are rated for 60 minutes, we assume they’ll last for 30, and rotate people out after 15 minutes of being on air. We typically have 3 repair lockers with 8-10 people suiting up in each locker. Depending on the conditions, we’ll use 2-6 man hose teams. Each repair locker has 10 SCBAs and there are another 30+ spare bottles plus a few spare SCBAs around the ship. Several things have failed if you’re going in with a hose team and I’ve never seen it happen. Every drill I ask around, who has had to fight an actual fire before, only 2 people have- a switchboard fire in a shipyard where he put it out with CO2 and a main space fire 20 years ago. The chances of suiting up, and a seal being an issue are just so damn small.

I could entertain an argument for hose team guys to shave. Honestly, I’d like to suit them up and run them around for 15 minutes and see how we do on air before going one way or the other.

If you’re wearing a negative pressure respirator to protect yourself from H2S or whatever, that thing needs to have a perfect seal and you need to shave. The MSO (medical service officer) should be taking care of that. I’ll support that all day.

Gas masks… if we go to MOPP level 1, and there’s a credible threat, and I have a mask and suit in my possession, of course I’m shaving as my life may be at stake.

But this general everyone needs to shave thing is just bullshit. Shave, cut your hair, wear your uniform, meet annual fitness standards, oops we’re the Navy. Might as well just have the Navy man the ships, but then it would cost more and they wouldn’t run as well, and we’re right back to square 1. We’re the ones out there running the ships, we know what to do, USCG knows what to do… As soon as something comes from USCG or gets put in the CFRs, I’ll stop arguing, until then, it’s just somebody in the office who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

I agree with that. Everyone at MSC doesn’t need to pass a fit test at all times. Guys working in areas that may need respirators, guys on the hose teams, etc could be required to be clean shaven and if a believable CBRD threat is received such that gas masks are carried at all times then everyone. Otherwise it’s an admiral being a douchebag.

I already knew the SCBA was positive pressure, thats all the instructor kept saying as he was donning it because the hair would allow air to escape. He was wrong. There will always be disbelievers until someone proves it. Same as running a mile under 4 mins.

But just to show you that its not the seal or escaping air that depletes your ability in a fire. Why nobody ever brings up the heavy smoker person? Or the extra overweight person? When we run drills, its people still barely getting out of the space because they cant walk and climb ladders with the pack on. No seal issue there, but they are out of air. We will get this point out and end all this in due time. You cant have facial hair because of a seal but you can be a chain smoker or overweight but cant do but 4 levels of stairs(8 steps per level) with a pack on before you need to sit down.

The British Royal Navy issued a “shave off” order as their ships steamed South for the Falklands in 1882 to all hands.

I like it. Straight razor in heavy seas. That is called trust.


1982 perhaps?


It’s now been extended to all personnel specifically those in training and assigned to the pool. I understand it while at sea but when I’m sitting in the pool for going on three weeks (as of this post) I would like to have my beard nothing crazy just a neatly kept beard while I twiddle my thumbs waiting for an assignment.

My ship is full of beards. That includes me. Nobody cares. That includes me.

What ship?

Here’s the funny part about the beard ban its enforced until your orders like mine specifically state to grow it out before you travel.

It is now official. The ban is now part of MSC’s Safety Management System. Violate it and your history.