Yes, you are correct. This past January I posted the details of my retaliatory termination from Noble Drilling. I was one of the whistleblower Captain’s that contributed to the “Spotlight On Safety” report.
It is not the current structure that does a poor job of holding shore-side personnel accountable. Unfortunately, it is the U.S. Coast Guard, the Flag State(s) and, in my particular case the Department of Justice, who refuse to hold shore-based management accountable by enforcing compliance with the International Safety Management (ISM) Code as well as other applicable laws. I was terminated eleven days after filing a report of safety violations. At the time of my termination, Noble Drilling had just commenced a term of four years probation. I brought Noble Drilling’s illegal and unsafe conduct to the attention of the U.S. Coast Guard, the Liberian Flag State and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska (where Noble Drilling was sentenced to probation). Despite providing all of them the evidence and documentation as to Noble Drilling’s conduct (while they were on probation) none of them took any action. If the regulatory/law enforcement agencies aren’t going to hold shore-base management accountable then who else is?
The ISM Code is very clear as to the “Master’s Responsibility & Authority.” Unfortunately, corporate cultures such as Noble Drilling that do not value safety only comply with the ISM Code and safety management system “on paper.” They know they will not be held accountable for their actions, therefore, they have no incentive to change their “culture.” Termination/Retaliation and intimidation against those who speak up and the self-preservation of management is their priority, not safety.
It is also not as simple as saying the “buck stops” with the ships crew. While the Captain is ultimately responsible for the safety of his crew and vessel there has to be support from shore-based management.
No crew member should be fired or retaliated upon for reporting safety issues and/or safety violations. In particular, when a Captain is retaliated/terminated for such it sends a very loud and powerful message as to the “culture” of that organization as well as to what ones fate will be if they report safety violations.
This impacts mariners in all areas of our industry. The one common denominator between all of us should be safety. Hopefully, this paper will be the beginning of dialogue to bring much needed change to a very broken system.