Risk Management / Skills and Culture

[QUOTE=captjacksparrow;171604]I treat the weather forecasts more or less the same as I treat guidance or direction from a pilot in a port I don’t know well: they get the benefit of the doubt until they give me reason not to.[/QUOTE]

I was referring to the weather routing maybe a few mariners can beat them from time to time but I’d put my money on the weather routers and win long-term. I’ve sailed with a couple captains who swore up and down they could beat them but my observation was that they were fooling themselves. One guy on the x pac liner run would consistently have 8 - 12 hours longer runs than the other guys using routing.

As far as the forecasts in general, as you know, it depends. The modern industrialized countries do OK. Other places not so much. Simple situations are better than complex. I think one thing is not to put too sharp of a point on it, I’ve made that mistake a couple times.

The important point is how big a bet are you making? It’s embarrassing having to wait for a second tug, but we know sometimes the cost of getting it wrong can be much higher.

[QUOTE=freighterman;171602]Two questions, neither of which have to do with the late tragedy, but concern risk assessment and safety culture in a nuts-and bolts sense:

I’m curious as to what “weather routing” services various companies use. In the company I work with, operating 260’ LOA, 1900 IGT palletized freighters in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, we use Bon Voyage Software (BVS), by Applied Weather Technology (AWT). Several downloads of data per day. Amazing accuracy. Simple but detailed graphics. It simply lays down a proposed trackline to follow to avoid bad weather, based on the waves and wind you want to avoid, and your destination. With every download of data it revises the trackline.(This is not a testimonial. I just wanted to give an idea of how it works).

Years ago when we first started using BVS I admit I was doubtful as to its accuracy, in a part of the world infamous for frequent and volatile low pressure systems. I soon had to eat crow. Its routing suggestions were beating our experienced captains’ ideas on weather routing, more often than not. Captains came to respect its accuracy very quickly. It has revolutionized our operation, which, while not as time sensitive as other maritime trades, still rotates around a rigid schedule.

My question is: How many competitors does AWT have? Does anyone have experience comparing Bon Voyage to another competitor’s system? Which is better?

Separate question (and again, this has nothing to do with the recent tragedy):
On deep-sea vessels are changes in speed still reserved for the captain alone, in any circumstance? What is the practice in other trades (tugs, GoM?)

As a captain operating in the PNW/Alaska area, I tell the mate that the throttle was there to be used, early and often, to avoid danger. Especially on the traffic-filled and rock-strewn Inside Passage of BC and SE Alaska. I tell mates that if they find themselves in a tricky Rules of the Road situation, or in a navigational situation they think they can’t handle on their own, to call me to the wheelhouse immediately and then SLOW DOWN. If they simply want more time to assess a situation I tell them they can slow down, or even hove-to, and not bother calling me. [U]Absent hauling a barge[/U], you can posit all sorts of situations where slowing down a vessel might increase the level of danger, but there are far more cases where slowing the vessel down will reduce the level of danger, giving you more time to suss things out. I have never had cause to regret this standing order, and if I hear the engines reduce RPMs while I was off-watch I always know the mate is being attentive. Nor have I ever had anyone abuse the “privilege” by simply going slow ahead all watch, etc. Certainly on the high seas in bad weather in our trade the mate is expected to change speeds quite often during a watch, and if anything, if the mate catches Hell it’s because it isn’t being done enough.

When I sailed deep-sea for awhile as mate myself, I found that the throttle was sacrosanct, never to be touched by lesser mortals than the captain. A captain told me there was nothing to be gained in any circumstance by slowing a vessel down on the high seas, outside of bad weather. Hyperbole, but he made his point. Don’t ever touch the throttle without his express permission–and I wasn’t going to get that outside of a gale. Certainly, that particular vessel was a steamship (the old Ready Reserve fleet container ship [I]Diamond State[/I]. Changing speed involved all sorts of men and valves in a steamplant which, at the time (First Gulf War) was notoriously touchy.

I’m not making a point here. I’m just interested in the differences in maritime culture and why they come about.[/QUOTE]

This sounds excellent. What does Bon Voyage cost? How do you get the updates? Email? Sat broadband?

With regards to the mates changing speed, they can in an emergency but I’ve never seen it. In traffic a course change is almost always a viable choice. If we are in pilot waters we will have a pilot and we discussed speed changes in advance.

With a low-speed diesel engine slowing down from sea speed is done by a “load down” program to avoid thermal stress. Also at sea the engine room is unmanned and an engineer is required to slow down. As far as slowing down for weather, don’t have to very often we avoid weather if we can, if required the captain would get called first. In general I like to anticipate the need or likelihood in advance if possible.

in the aircraft industry they dont want the pilots making decisions or thinking they teach them the manual is god.
Has caused plenty of crashes with young guys that no nothing else.
I only feel safe flying with guys with lots of grey hair who break company rules to save the aircraft if need be.
That Qantarse 380 that blew the engine up and nearly cut the wing off here in Singapore but landed in a configuration Airbus says wont work. ( almost ran out of runway)
Everybody knows the old guys on board threw the rule book out, we all know if younger guys were flying that they would have crashed it with the checklist in their laps following policy.

ask Transocean and BP about risk management

I agree with being able to throw the rulebook out to save the vessel. The trick is knowing when. As others have alluded to, we all like to think we are smarter than the book; but that is very rarely the case. The fact that we get away with even very wrong decisions most of the time only re-inforces the faulty decision making process. Thanks for another thought provoking thread everyone.

[QUOTE=tugsailor;171611]This sounds excellent. What does Bon Voyage cost? How do you get the updates? Email? Sat broadband?[/QUOTE]

$900/month for our fleet of 5 vessels. We use the Inmarsat BGAN system to download the data. Captains download the data four times a day. There is an icon on the computer desktop to get the data. Then you open the BVS program on the computer and import the latest file.

[QUOTE=freighterman;171735]$900/month for our fleet of 5 vessels. We use the Inmarsat BGAN system to download the data. Captains download the data four times a day. There is an icon on the computer desktop to get the data. Then you open the BVS program on the computer and import the latest file.[/QUOTE]

That is a very reasonable price. It probably pays for itself every month n fuel savings. There is no excuse not to subscribe to BVS.

I’d pay $200 a month out of pocket to have that.