Hi folks. Allwyn from Australia here. Would like to push in a query here to professional mariners. This is focussing on modern ship management procedures on board today. I have been a Marine Engineer and now work on fleet safety and quality management.
In my dealings with the fleet, i see complicated anti pollution regulations require compliance and understanding mostly from the Chief Engineer. Most if not all Captains do not understand the equipment involved or what goes into making and keeping the ship IOPP or IAPP compliant. At the management level i hear a lot of frustration and complaints about Captains not being able to understand and comprehend basics and thus inadvertantly or advertantly marginalizing support that the Chiefs need. For that reason we implemened a direct hotline for the Chief to the Office without the need to go through the Captain which also was for many a frustrating experience again.
Today everything on board a Merchant ship is an engineering operation. It is impossible and beyond the scope for Ship Captains knowledge or training to know how ships move, how power is created, how water is generated, how fuel is centrifuged, how hydraulic systems work, how safety, backup and emergency buses are linked as systems, how sewage is processed and made harmless before discharge or what goes into the complexities of discharging cargoes using onboard gear etc…
Anything going wrong in these, or literally one can say on the ship is related to some Engineering aspect. Ship Captains do not have the abiliy, skill sets for analytical and higly specialized troubleshooting work that endanger vessels all the time, let alone comprehend the redundancy factor for equipment or spares on board that is absolutely essential for the safe running of the vessel.
[B]No management holds the Captain responsible for such[/B]. They hold the Chief Engineer responsible and it becomes his responsibility to solve that problem to ensure the safety of the crew and the Master included.[I] We did an internal study on critical operations [B]requiring a high skill set[/B] over a large period of time, spanning more than a year[/I]. Over 95% cases involved the skills of the Chief Engineer and his team in either bringing back operations to safe mode, preventing a pollution incident, preventing commercial damage due to delays and in some instances prevention of possible grevious injury.
Moreover we faced a situation where many ship Captains showed high handedness without being able to factor in and able to comprehend the criticality under which the Chief Engineer was working. Some instances including a few Chiefs who resigned and left this company were a direct result of the Captains inability to comprehend a Marine Engineers job.
Times have changed and we are seriously even considering putting up a Cargo Engineer to take care of deck machinery, loading discharge operations, ballast water management, deballast and ballast functions and managing the loadicator towards that end. This would free up the mate also for purely navigational responsibilities.
A Captains skillset requirement today is much lesser than what was say even 15 years ago wih the advent of accurate Global positioning and easy to use Radar and navigational equipment and extremely accurate weather analysis.
[I][B]How would people here feel if i raised the issue of complete executive management responsibility being put on a Chief Engineer instead of the Captain on board, because of his better understanding of the ship and it’s equipment? [/B][/I]
Thanks, and this is not to raise Deck-Engine issues, but serious replies to why this is possible or why it is not. Would be glad to hear views of people on this forum, whether the mindset to share top operational executive management on board is possible yet or not? Or shall we have to continue with the ‘Command’ based system on board for the foreseeable future?