Here’s where the rubber meets the road: in 32 years of operation no one has ever died while under contract, for reasons of injury or illness, on a Coastal ship. No one has ever been put in a wheelchair permanently. No loss of limbs. The last time the company was sued for a bad back Clinton was president.
If you ran a 32-year long scientific experiment to see if the operation is a safe one, and were presented with all this data, what would be your conclusion? More inspections are necessary? The worst ship-casualty the company has had in those 32 years was a fire in 1997. No one was injured and the ship was salvaged with 90% of its cargo intact.
The company has its own USCG approved 5000 square-foot fire simulator. Not required by any regulations. Crews do realistic fire fighting training [I]every[/I] year, put on by active duty firefighters. By realistic is meant far more intensity than is provided by training schools. The simulator is not rented out, and was built with 100% company money. It is just for use by the 64-shipboard employees of the company. No regulation demands the training. It would be cheaper to send them to training schools, but not half as useful. The company has a 64’ steel training boat which they use, among other things, as a platform for yearly abandon ship drill, where crew members jump into the waters of Puget Sound in winter in survival suits, not a heated swimming pool. The experience of open water in winter is another thing altogether, in 36 degree air temps, cold water and 15 knot winds. They stay drifting in liferafts or floating free in survival suits for hours.
My point is, there is a difference between realistic training and drills. Drills, done on any basis, quickly become stale and rote. Another box to check of on a sheet. For example: in fire drills how many crews actually use the SCBA air in the bottles, runnin gup and down stairs, hauling hoses? If you are emptying an air bottle per fire team member per drill you are doing great. If you aren’t you are setting yourself up for failure in case of a real fire. Drills are important, but [I]realistic[/I] drills done every 24 days, and very realistic training done every year, is, in my opinion, after a lifetime of careful observation, far more effective than rote drills done on a weekly basis, and “somewhat realistic” training done every five years. I’m not saying the latter is the norm for the U.S. maritime industry, but it is not uncommon.