Who would have thought it - TOO MUCH PAPERWORK! - By : Sundar Subramani
Master on board - Is his prime role is to command the ship or to complete record and do…cumented compliance with SMS, Port formalities and so on?
Almost all the maritime regulations that were developed for Ship management aspects talks about Master and his responsibility, authority and overriding authority. But does the Master have time to manage and command the ship, as it was in earlier days?
What are those Human elements that affect his Knowledge, Skills and attributes as a capable Master to manage the ship safely?
My discussion / interview with sailing Masters gave me some eye openers!
- Too much paper work, never getting time to concentrate on Navigation - 100% of Master’s gave this response. On shuttle tankers / feeder containers - too many port formalities, on long voyage tankers, gas carriers - too many regulatory and industry related paper works
- Extreme pressure from company and company representative regarding HOW TO DO things on board. Master and Chief Engineer shall be given sufficient space considering the Knowledge and skills (based on which they were recruited) to do things with their own competence.
- Interference of company representatives during third party inspections / surveys / audit on board. Thus failed to demonstrate the reality and reliability of on board system. But the failure or weaknesses resulting from such situations are always recorded as Master’s failure.
- “I had purser to do paper work – when there was 10% of documentation was needed, Radio officer handle messaging – when only 2 message goes out in a day. Now I my 80% working time is goes on making reports and send an average 20 message and 5 telephone calls to company daily”. THIS WAS THE COMMENT MADE BY A MASTER FROM A BULK CARRIER, MANAGED BY A VERY REPUTED COMPANY.
Some points for thoughts, following from 80% (116 out of 142 Masters) of my interviews and research, hence might not be applicable for some.
a. Master’s are no longer treated by majority of the companies as Person in command, rather a person responsible for all problems happened on board.
b. Master is given all supports in a way to keep him on board as a remote control to manage from shore, rather than help to manage the ship safely Example:-
- Master’s review is a check list answered YES/NO,
- Internal Audit is done with focus on company’s weakness originating from ship,
- Incidents are analysed and actions are imposed on board without any consultation or training the ship staff for their effective contribution
- Request (resources) made by Master for improvement of ship is treated as luxury or incapability in managing the vessel with existing crew.
- True feedback on seafarers performance are neglected or not positively responded reasoning budget and financial restrictions
c. Any NC, Findings or observations received during the third party verification and inspections are always treated as a failure to demonstrate by the ship.
d. Failure or weakness occurred during the previous Master is also listed under the Master on command. On the other hand lot of restriction being given what to record in the Master’s handing over note, reasoning this is not an ISM document.
I feel these are sufficient to evaluate the functioning and characteristic of Master’s Human element while on board.
What we can expect from such a Master?
How we shall be managing people and process on board at all-time consistently?
From: DAILY COLLECTION OF MARITIME PRESS CLIPPINGS 2014 – 046
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