Charles Perrow on the role of the Captain

Keeping in mind this book was written in 1984 here’s Perrow on the role of the captain:


I believe that the accident rate has been falling in recent years but that information might be hard to come by.

One Big Question
What is the rate of ship owners trying to restrain gung-ho captains from doing stupid boat tricks vs. ship owners making it clear on the down-low that ultimate authority aside, you ARE going if you want to keep your nice captain job?
Take the El Faro and the Bounty for an example. The skipper of the El Faro seemed to think his job was on the line if he took the long way around and the skipper of the Bounty seemed to LIKE hurricanes. One was scared for his job and one was a nut. Both seemed to operate without anything even resembling Part 121 aircraft dispatchers. (well the Bounty was essentially a private yacht per the regs, but still someone must have wondered wtf they were doing where they were)

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That information is very hard to come by. So hard in fact that the owners themselves are begging the regulators to investigate their biggest failures more thoroughly :

“The industry finds it difficult to accept that only 24, or about 62%, of a total of 39 bulk carrier losses had their investigation reports made available on the IMO Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) database at the end of January 2020. The average time from incident to a report becoming available has been 32 months for these investigations.”

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I would have thought Lloyds would at least have an idea about the numbers and some kind of actuarial studies about the risk of them having to pay out. 53 times in 10 years.

But they make big money brokering deals to names who put up the cash to foot the bill.
Higher returns for higher risks.

Lloyds cares about the bottom line.

Even if nobody else gives a rats ass about some 3rd world crews on some old bulkers flagged in countries no one has ever heard off sailing between ports where nobody cares.

Unless they end up putting oil on a beach and kill some cute wildlife.

Some people have a higher tolerance for risk than others. However the real issues appears to be this:

If a captain with a high tolerance for risk is also having a bad day then there’s increased potential for problems.

As far as the office, in my experience they’d rather not know how sausage is made. If short cuts were taken and the voyage successful they don’t want to hear how it was done. Only if thing go wrong, then the shortcuts will be seen as errors.

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