Do maritime academies teach Competency theory


This is true, but a step beyond that, what kind of culture are the schools installing, or what type of approach?

For example; I think that the schools may use a little in-group / out-group with deck / engine dynamics in some cases to rev up the students.

I think that’s the wrong approach. Conrad, IIRC, said “In matters of importance the captain and the mate think alike”. This is often true, which is why I often get the chief eng involved early in decision-making, even if it’s just the broad outlines. Nobody better to “red team” my thinking, mate’s more inclined to agree with me.


I’m a hawspiper so I really don’t know the specifics of the culture that is being taught in the academies. But after nearly 25 years in the industry I can give a personal, well founded opinion of the finished product. Overall I have a favorable opinion of US maritime academy graduates. Whenever I have a disfavorable opinion of an academy officer or training cadet it is usually because of their “hands-off” approach to work or arrogant attitude. I honestly don’t believe the academies can train less than great people to have a good work ethic, to be humble or to be good shipmates. But if the schools could emphasize more on these two topics I think it would improve the appearances & opinions of graduates. Also, the hierarchy that we mariners have is for safety & letting the best get to the top to get the job done. I think too many of the hands-off, prick officers see our maritime hierarchy culture as a means to get out of work & to hold a position where being a prick won’t get them fired. Needless to say, I am not a stay in my office CE/1AE. IMO, it would be nice if we could change the culture where it was unacceptable for any engineering officer to sit in their office for 30 days on the computer without going into the ER.


My observations are similar to yours.

I’m going to have to look for the exact quote but the right approach can be summed up as having confidence in your own skills, appreciate and have confidence in the skill of other crew members. But never underestimate what you’re up against.

Taking a ship to sea is not something to be taken lightly.


What kind of vessels do you work on then?

I said this same thing a few weeks ago and nobody believed me. I hold USCG responsible as “sea time” on, let’s say, dinner boats, should not ever suffice to acquire AB Unlimited. Worst I’ve seen have come from the Gulf, however.
The whole national AB system is a farce and the new STCW requirements are really beginning to put things on the right track


For most of my time at sea the deck department (Bosun and AB’s under the supervision of the CM) took care of changing out the lifeboat falls. It was a matter of pride that it was handled aboard ship. As of late I have noticed shoreside assistance being called out for this sort of stuff. A CM friend of mine was beside himself when his opposite number had a vendor do it.


I’m disappointed by that sort of thing as well, however, I am curious though as to how many companies want it done that way though for the sake of liability in the lawsuit happy world we live in these days.


I’ve been a team member/leader who has changed lifeboat wires or flipped them end-to-end several times. I’ve also supervised 3rd party technicians who completed the work. My preference, let the 3rd party handle it when they are doing their mandatory 5 year inspection & let the crew inspect it thoroughly afterwards. Letting the 3rd party specialists who do that job every week take care of it is better than having a bunch of questionable AB’s/mates do it every 5, 10 or 15 years depending on their rotation. Sure, if it is non-vital 2,000 hrs, 5,000 hrs maintenance make the crew do it to keep the crew trained & to keep costs down. But if I’m riding a lifeboat down on a gravity davit I would perfer to put my life in the hands of seasoned, trained professionals & not into the hands of a bunch of OS’s who passed a USCG multiple choice test.


Given the tempo of operations, the schedule, crew size and workload I don’t see the crew doing it, at least not in my case.

The other issue is with critical equipment more and more Port State Control is demanding to see if the work done matches the Safety Management System, asking to see the credentials of the crew carrying out the work, instruction manuals and so forth.

I’d rather have a fat binder full of official looking documents and worker credentials to show that the work was legit then have the company save a buck or two.

Better to have the crew change out the wires on non-life critical equipment to keep their hand in so that at least they have know-how to supervise the work.




I think that we now have a significant number of non-mariners, especially from the oil patch, who are working as mariners for the money, but don’t have much interest in being a skilled Mariner.


I have seen those “3rd party specialists” and they can be the same guys welding railings or doing whatever the next job entails as a repair vendor. This was the case with Horizon when they had Dockside in LA doing the work. If your mates and AB’s are questionable, yes, there would be concerns but the CM and Bosun should be a part of the permanent crew. If they are questionable, they either should be educated or not in that position.

With all due respect, what is the different between critical and non-critical equipment. Are stores (or cargo) cranes, mooring winches, gangway winches to name a few really any less non-life critical when you use them all the time.

I have watched it (lifeboat falls) being changed out. It takes a few hours and really isn’t rocket science. One of the advantages of the crew doing it is that it doesn’t have to be done in port where time is always short.

If don’t you use the skills that your people should have (as mariners) what point is there for them to even attain those skills.

Falls are either end for ended or renewed every 2-1/2 years. If end for ended they can be in service 5 years. Or as an alternative they can be inspected annually and renewed whenever necessary due to deterioration or at intervals of not more than 4 years.


I don’t know how many dry chems fire extinguisher we have over 12 decks but it’s a lot. They are inspected annually by shore-side. They always miss few, usually because some deck panels are raised or just missed.

That means arrangements have to be made for the last few to get done. All the equipment needed to this was on-board, scales, stickers (left by the contractors) boxes of dry chem. So one time rescheduling to get a few missed units was turning into a pain so I told the c/m to pay out some OT to the 3/M and get it done.

The third mate did a good job but but unfortunately on a couple of extinguishers he split a little dry chem. When the CG came aboard for an unrelated item they spotted it and raised a fuss.

More than a fuss really, they asked to be shown the section in the SMS manual regarding fire extinguishers and it said to be done by contractors, but CG OK fine just show us the instructions you are using. This is to unscrew the cap and add chem and screw the cap back on. Not rocket science. Of course no instructions to be found.

So the CG said there were going to hold the ship in port until instructions were on board or have contractors come down on short notice and check the half dozen done by the crew. Big panic ensued, but managed to have a set of instructions faxed just before scheduled sailing.

This action by the CG is mostly about teaching the ship a lesson more than safety but it worked, lesson learned.

That’s why I posted that is was due to PSC ect. That’s my experience. Even with contractors with the boats PSC goes over the paperwork with a fine tooth comb. Not with the other equipment.

EDIT: I got part of this story wrong, the first is right, having the 3/m do the job, I was there for that. The second part about the CG, that was experienced by my relief and told to me when I later relieved him. It was not the CG that spotted the dry chem and held the ship, it was PSC, I think Japan.


In my case I would say that if the shore-side crew that did the boat wires signed on as crew, I would still not allow them to do it as they would not be able to provide what I want. Signed and stamped certificates from an approved company.


One company I sailed with it was policy to change the crane wires on a geared container ship every 2 years. The hoist wire on one crane was 380 metres and weighed 2.5 tonne.
The operation was carried out at sea by the crew under the supervision of the chief Mate. I stood the mates morning watch and did the meal relief for the evening meal with the two junior mates splitting the 4 to eight at night.
The operation took three days and would have been almost impossible to schedule in port as there were no lay-by berths in any of the ports we called at.
Fire equipment and lifesaving equipment servicing was undertaken by shore contractors and could be completed concurrently with cargo operations only at ports where the terminal allowed access to the contractors.


As a general rule any wire used to lift people, the two examples are the lifeboat wires and the elevator wires, are done by certified contractors.

The risks of cargo or stores cranes is mitigated by avoiding having people under loads. Accon ladder wire usually is not under load, when it is it’s a static load. I don’t relay on inspections for the accon ladder wire only, I also have it changed out on time intervals regardless of apparent condition, it’s cheap, quick and easy to change out.


I’ve worked multiple different tugs, supply boats, container ships, research vessels, etc. I’ve only worked two places that had an AB on the bridge as lookout at all times, the research vessel and the current tug company I work for. Most ABs I’ve seen hardly ever stand a bridge watch.


I sailed the Titus during operation Enduring or Iraqi Freedom as on the American Tern, USNS Martin and APL Balboa. I remember the “Guardian Mariner” 12 man detachments, entertaining and dangerous, yea enough said…


On foreign ships flagged in to US, the safety equipment both LSA and FSA can be grandfathered and kept IMO compliant. The foreign ships have UNITOR or another sensible dry powder extinguisher type - refillable on board instead of the moronic sealed US units like General which need to be taken ashore when with Unitor and others replacement cylinders and powder are serviced onboard. Even the Storch and other fire nozzles and single jacketed hoses are at times allowed, sketchy at times but never saw one of the IMO “bailing wire” brass wire fail when under pressure.