COI Personnel


#1

During my last couple COI’s noticed our Coast Guard sends down three people. One to take care of the Engineering, one to take care of the Deck side and one to “observe”. This “observer” never has a business card either.

I recently found out this “observer” is not attached to the Marine Safety (Prevention) branch but the Investigative (criminal?) branch.

Why would they need someone from investigations unless they felt we were all criminals?

Am I the only one bothered by this scenario?


#2

WTF? Nope, Captmad, you aren’t the only one bothered by that scenario.

Only my upbringing is preventing me from writing my opinion here on how that side of the USCG treats mariners.

So, in deference to my grandmother’s sensibilities, I’ll let other folks reply.

Captain Anonymous, I just lit up the bat phone…


#3

[QUOTE=Captmad;22902]

Why would they need someone from investigations unless they felt we were all criminals?

Am I the only one bothered by this scenario?[/QUOTE]

I have thought about this for some time. They have long lost sight of their true mission: safety at sea. I have been incredibly bothered by the Coast Guard’s actions for a long time. Wether it’s armed boarding of racing sailboats on the Chesapeake Bay or the absolute failure that is the NMC, they are no longer an agency to be trusted with the American people’s best interests. They really can’t decide if they want to be mini-Navy, mini-FBI, or mini-LAPD. I feel any Coast Guard personnel that board your vessel should be treated as a suspect with dubious intentions. The sooner they get out of the mindset that every mariner is a perp who just hasn’t been caught yet, the better we will all be. The Coast Guard is a badly broken agency, and needs to be dismantled. I bet this gets me on a “list”.


#4

I would not be so quick to believe this. I have been through MANY Coast Guard and ABS inspections. Sometimes there is a couple of people and sometimes there are 8 or 9. I don’t see the benefit of a criminal investigator on a vessel during a vessel inspection.


#5

I just got my credentials renewed all at once, C/E Steam, Diesel and Gas Turbine unlimited in 18 days total. I would say that is pretty good for the NMC. Better than ever! Must have an engineer running the place.
As far as COI’s, which I have been through numerous, liner vessels, tankships, breakout ect. I find by treating the USCG with good management skills and Testing and repairing your equipment ahead of time, and most importantly knowing what you are talking about, makes it pretty stress free. After all it’s only 2 or 3 days a year and if you are on a rotation probably only every other year. People that can’t handle this must be mates, after all it’s hard to learn your ship when you stare out at the sea, lagoon or asphalt then head to your room to watch movies. It’s not my first trip.


#6

[QUOTE=Greenwater;22913]I just got my credentials renewed all at once, C/E Steam, Diesel and Gas Turbine unlimited in 18 days total. I would say that is pretty good for the NMC. Better than ever! Must have an engineer running the place.
As far as COI’s, which I have been through numerous, liner vessels, tankships, breakout ect. I find by treating the USCG with good management skills and Testing and repairing your equipment ahead of time, and most importantly knowing what you are talking about, makes it pretty stress free. After all it’s only 2 or 3 days a year and if you are on a rotation probably only every other year. People that can’t handle this must be mates, after all it’s hard to learn your ship when you stare out at the sea, lagoon or asphalt then head to your room to watch movies. It’s not my first trip.[/QUOTE]

I’m not about to get into a pissing match between deck and engine. I’ve never done that aboard ship, so I’m not about to start now. If that’s your gig, fine. But it never makes for an enjoyable work environment to create dissent among the crew. But I assure you no engineer is running the place. Because I’ve yet to encounter any commercial maritime personnel working at NMC. They may be in there somewhere, but I don’t know what their job would be.

I commend them on your 18 day renewal. I really do. But it took them longer than that to print mine. And it was so poorly printed that the NMC is currently printing and issuing a new one for me.

I really don’t see anything anyone wrote about not handling things. It’s about being disgusted with the performance and attitude of a government agency. No one mentioned a thing about being prepared or unprepared for COI’s, so I’m wondering what you’re reading into this. Or are you just trying to cause more dissent? If you think all Mates do is stare out the window, that’s your opinion. Same as all Mates might think all engineers just drink coffee and nap in the control room.

What’s at stake here, and only in my opinion, is that as American citizens and highly regulated and certificated professional mariners, it might be better for us to be treated as such by the agency that oversees and regulates us. On the whole, most individual Coast Guard personnel are friendly and seem like upstanding individuals. Rather, it seems that it is the top brass and overall culture of “us vs. them” that creates the problems. But there is little us commercial mariners can do to change this. It must come from the regulators first. I, for one, would love to believe in the Coast Guard, and work with them, rather than in toleration of them.


#7

I agree with Capt Lee, I wouldn’t read to much into it. One time I had 8 Coast Guard guys show up at the gangway when I had the watch. The captain freaked out when he saw them, he thought he was in for it. They explained that 6 were reservist and were required to observe a routine inspection to get their ticket punched.

I also agree with some of Mike173 comments, the Coast Guard has been in a transition period, it might be better if some of the functions were divested off. But treating them with respect and trying to see their side of things goes a long way.

When I was in Bahrain at ASRY shipyard two CG LTs went thought every ballast tank in over 100 degree heat checking the condition of the tanks, had they found any problems they would have required the company to fix them. One came up from 5 port, puked, then went into 5 stbd. Give em a break.


#8

I’ve been through plenty COIs where reservists, new ensigns, etc. from Marine Inspection were tagging along for ride. No problem. Welcome aboard!

My issue with the situation Captmad found himself in is that one of the folks was not from Marine Inspections, they were from Investigations. Now, having been on the unfortunate end of a conversation with Marine Investigations (I was just a witness, but still an extremely unnerving experience), I take issue with this. I say again, “criminalization of the mariner”.

And Greenwater, this may not be your first trip, but it was your first post. Thanks for coming into the house with your muddy shoes and daring us to ask you to take them off. Nice. Very nice.


#9

[quote=Captmad;22902]During my last couple COI’s noticed our Coast Guard sends down three people. One to take care of the Engineering, one to take care of the Deck side and one to “observe”. This “observer” never has a business card either.

I recently found out this “observer” is not attached to the Marine Safety (Prevention) branch but the Investigative (criminal?) branch.

Why would they need someone from investigations unless they felt we were all criminals?

Am I the only one bothered by this scenario?[/quote]

While I have been out of the Coast Guard quite a few years, the term “investigative” does not equal criminal. Investigators is a term used in the marine safety field to describe just that, investigating things. While the criminal branch (for lack of a better term) also uses the same word for their staff. I doubt very seriously those people are tagging along for COI inspections.


#10

[quote=Capt. Fran;22918]I’ve been through plenty COIs where reservists, new ensigns, etc. from Marine Inspection were tagging along for ride. No problem. Welcome aboard!

My issue with the situation Captmad found himself in is that one of the folks was not from Marine Inspections, they were from Investigations. Now, having been on the unfortunate end of a conversation with Marine Investigations (I was just a witness, but still an extremely unnerving experience), I take issue with this. I say again, “criminalization of the mariner”. [/quote]

Capt Fran, the point I was trying to make is not that sometime trainees come along but that how easy it is to miss-read the situation. Robert Thomas has pointed out investigation does not equal criminal. There are many possible explanations as to why the Coast Guard sent along a third party.


#11

I’ve quit drinking coffee for the day and am now in much better place. Thanks Kennebec and Robert for talking me down off the ledge. I’d much rather hear that I was wrong and misread the situation than have the actual “criminal” side of the service just hanging out at COIs. Thanks again guys.


#12

In the past five years I have had 3 dealings with the coast guard. One was over a spill that happened in corpus we had a leak at the bottom of the barge. Another was a grounding and the third was a rountine inspection, all involment with the coast guard was respectful and polite on the part of the coast guard.


#13

[QUOTE=Capt. Fran;22935]I’ve quit drinking coffee for the day and am now in much better place. Thanks Kennebec and Robert for talking me down off the ledge. I’d much rather hear that I was wrong and misread the situation than have the actual “criminal” side of the service just hanging out at COIs. Thanks again guys.[/QUOTE]

I’ve come down, too. I have the ability to climb on the soapbox sometimes. Sometimes I later regret what I say. Sometimes it is misinterpreted. Perhaps this time I did all three.

I still believe whole-heartedly that the Coast Guard is a broken agency. I have never experienced rudeness from them. But I do like the police-state like stance they have moved towards since 9/11. Sorry, the Coast Guard has yet to deal with a terrorist in the country, to my knowledge.

Think Coast Guard Auxiliary. I know…but before you say anything…they will do a courtesy inspection on yachts. No deficiencies or citations. They are just there to help. That’s what I would truly like to see the Coast Guard become. An advocate for the guys and girls that make their living at sea. Not for the companies, the lobbyists, the unions. Just us. Question: have you ever heard a Coast Guardsman ask an AB this question? “Have you ever been asked or told to falsify your STCW rest log?” I haven’t, but as 2nd Mate I was told to do that to mine. That’s just an example. I’d really like to see them enforcing the laws that protect us as enthusiastically as they do the ones that condemn us.

I would love to see the day when the Coast Guard shows up at the ship (non-emergency) and says, " I’m with the Coast Guard, what I do to help you?" But more than that, I long for the day when a ship’s crew actually would believe that.


#14

mike173 - Yes, I’d say its a mixed bag. Mostly they’re shooting straight, but not always. Best bet is to assume good faith unless there is a good reason to think otherwise.


#15

You have to keep in mind that since 911 the USCG was transferred from the DOT to the Department of Homeland Security. The U.S. government in it’s infinite wisdom heaped yet another responsibility on the Coasties. When I served (86-91) the main responsibilities of the Coast Guard were: Search and Rescue, Aids to Navigation, Marine Inspections, Fisheries Patrol, Marine Licensing, and then started heavy into Drug Interdiction thanks to the Reagan Administration. These jobs alone were more than enough to keep them busy. Remember: “Big Job, Small Service”. The new Homeland Security element really is spreading them thin. They should have created a separate Homeland Security Corps (that would be it’s own clusterf*#k like TSA). I think we need to give them a break. They are trying to fulfill a job that has evloved into too many jobs for a branch of only 38,000 members.


#16

Greetings,
Glad I got everyones viewpoint. Perhaps the gentleman was from the investigative branch of MSO but this was never articulated.

What I really resent is having to teach our inspectors their job. As described in the various replies seems we are always platforms for training, always. Doesn’t our CG have any people performing these functions that know what they are doing? Yes they do but by that time the people move to the next billet to get that ticket punched for promotion. So we continue the seemingly endless cycle of training inspectors.

The other thing that gripes me about our “inspectors” is they do not have any sea time! Someone that does not have any seatime is telling me how to run my ship! Do you see where this is going?

So what does the most learned readership of gcaptain think?


#17

It’s kind of hard to miss.

The best way to look at it is to help them get through their part of the process, try to learn something from them, and try to teach them what you believe they should know.

It isn’t personal and it’s not their fault they come on board without 20 years as a department head.

It’s only a day or two out of your year anyway.


#18

There are (at least) 2 types of USCG Investigators - Marine Safety Investigators and Criminal Investigators. The thing to ask when you come across one these guys is which kind of investigator they are. I’ve never been in the USCG, but my understanding is that Marine Safety Investigators are experienced Inspectors with some advanced courses under their belt. Maybe they have to observe some inspections every year just to get their inspector ticket punched.


#19

[quote=Steamer;23104]

The best way to look at it is to help them get through their part of the process, try to learn something from them, and try to teach them what you believe they should know.

It isn’t personal and it’s not their fault they come on board without 20 years as a department head.

It’s only a day or two out of your year anyway.[/quote]

I agree with steamer here, in many respects the CG’s goal is the same as ours, to verify the ship is safe, in compliance and so forth.

As far as expertise, I was told the CG prefers to inspect at the same time as ABS.

Having said that I don’t like the current system. . I wonder if a system where they give the ship a score would work. That way everyone involved could see if the ship was improving or not. As it is there is always the concern the ship might get delayed because the inspector had a chip on their shoulder or something.


#20

[QUOTE=Steamer;23104]It’s kind of hard to miss.

The best way to look at it is to help them get through their part of the process, try to learn something from them, and try to teach them what you believe they should know.

It isn’t personal and it’s not their fault they come on board without 20 years as a department head.

It’s only a day or two out of your year anyway.[/QUOTE]

I agree 100%. Usually, it’s the young inspectors that are difficult, if at all, but they are learning as well. In the past, there were always 4-8 CG personnel conducting the inspection, but now we’re ACP, and it’s generally several ABS engineers and 1 or 2 from CG. Either way, it’s the same to me. I look forward to these inspections, but I hate the ISM & SMS audits…as part of your job within ISM is how good the office does their job and the ensuing paperwork involved.