There are several reasons why there are more frequent and more serious casualties on foreign vessels compared to US:
- the foreign fleet is [U]generally[/U] less well maintained than US ships,
- training [U]generally[/U] is not of the same standard as US mariners,
- the quantity and quality of emergency equipment is not as good as on US ships
This may sound biased, but investigation reports of casualties on foreign vessels leads to these root causes most of the time.
The foreign fleet is also engaged in true deep sea commercial trade. Something US mariners and US fleet have little, if any, experience in any more. There is a huge variety of shipping going on that US mariners are not involved in, with a few exceptions. The experiences of the US deep sea mariner are narrower than our international counterparts.
Learning from failure is something that should be addressed by proper implementation of the ISM code. A good SMS should take failures into account and those experiences should be reflected in the procedures. That way others can benefit from a failure, without having to experience it themselves.
[quote=sean;16251][I]The foreign fleet is also engaged in true deep sea commercial trade. Something US mariners and US fleet have little, if any, experience in any more. There is a huge variety of shipping going on that US mariners are not involved in, with a few exceptions. The experiences of the US deep sea mariner are narrower than our international counterparts[/I].
Whoa … how can you say that? While many if not most US mariners are brown water types, there are still more than a few of us who sail "in true deep sea commercial trade"all around this world. Our commercial deep sea fleet still exists as well as the “gray funnel liners” of both stripes that support our Navy fleets around the world.
We are not a “few exceptions” and I might add we perform and compete quite well. The American seaman is head and shoulders above the rest of the world in skill level and ability.
I contend that the experience of the US merchant mariner is far from narrower than any other nation’s seafarer, unless you want to count the opportunity to enjoy the sometimes primitive social and working conditions found under other flags. The other side of that coin is that compared to some foreign flag ships, we are the ones enduring primitive social and working conditions.
I stopped sailing a little over year ago and took a job as a surveyor. Since then I have boarded lots of foreign ships and I can now say that most foreign ships are in better condition, more modern, and overall better run than American ships. I used to buy into the belief that American seaman were superior, but now I am not so sure. I do not believe that we are inferior or that there is a system wide defect in our maritime educational system, but some of the above statements just aren’t true.
Foreign fleets are less well maintained: Not from what I have seen. I regularly board foreign containerships and they are almost always relatively new, modern, and clean. I have found the same to be true with regards to tankers as well. In fact this past week I was aboard a RO/RO that had accomodations so nice I thought they had passengers aboard. That being said, I have found that many of the bulkers are not in as nice a condition, but the US flag bulker I worked on was not in very good condition either. Without a doubt there are bad actors in the international shipping community, just as there are here in the US (Sabine shipping anyone?).
Training is not as adequate: I have not been underway with foreign officers, but dealing with them on an almost daily basis I have found them to be knowledgeable, courteous and eager to do a good job. Are there bad foreign mates and engineers sure, and I have met a few, but there are bad American officers as well. There are diploma and license mills out there, but a reputable company cannot afford to take the risk of hiring under trained and under qualified officers anymore.
The quantity and quality of emergency equipment is not as good as on US ships: Haven’t found this to be true either. Once again, foreign ships are more modern which by definition means they have been equipped with the latest safety gear and designs. There are not many American companies (aside from MSC which isn’t a profit driven enterprise) that choose to exceed safety regulations. Just did a safety inspection on an Indian foreign tanker all the gear was in good condition, well maintained, and met all the SOLAS requirements.
I agree with what was said about American seamen not having that much experience trading overseas. We are outnumbered by almost every other seafaring nation, most of my peers that still sail are sailing on tugs and barges trading in US waters. I do not believe that MSC is a fair comparison to foreign commercial traders. MSC is not profit driven, it exists purely to supply the military overseas and even then when compared to foreign commercial companies it would be a moderately sized company.
As Americans we could learn a lot about the business of shipping in this modern age. Our ships on average are older than foreign ships and dramatically less competitive, I do not believe it is the fault of the American Mariner, the fault lies more with out dated cabbotage laws, poor (nonexistent) maritime policy and onerous regulations that are not easily understood by foreign companies (Ever watch an Indian C/O try to muddle his way through a CFR? Hell, watch an American C/O use the CFRs. They suck!)
Just a couple of notes: First, I tell everyone that is interested in moving up, not only the stories, but simply put my feelings while the vessel is unsecured (underway) that 100% of all collisions involve at least 1 vessel that is underway - so while we are underway - our chances of a collision have just increased 100% - Think about it! And for the other commentors - as for our contemporaries from other nations - they are human to begin with and make mistakes also, some undergo better training than some of us, some of their vessels are as modern as ours, and if you have never experienced this then you really shouldn’t have anything to say about their training, experience, or equipement.