Storm Avoidance - Crew calling the DPA

Split from this thread:

Junior officers calling the office might not be that simple.

If the mate calls the office there’s very likely to be an assumption shore-side that the mate is trying to undermine the captain’s authority. Fundamental attrition error; the office might assume the mate wants the captain’s job or that the mate is a “snowflake” that can’t take a “no nonsense” captain.

Another issue is communicating the idea that there’s no actual problem, just the risk of having a problem. The office might assume the mate is afraid of a little green water on deck.


Better be safe than sorry.

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And that is a fundamental flaw in the system - the office piece of the puzzle. There’s a lot of talk about bridge procedures and protocol with regards to BRM, yet little is discussed about how the office fits into the equation. If shipboard personnel have no confidence in calling the office, what good is it? When the DPA is bombarded with phone calls about overdue reliefs and pay questions, it’s like the boy cried wolf and serious concerns will be met with disregard or feigned interest. As you said “the Captain knows best” in the minds of many in the office and there is reluctance to question senior officers. And if follow up is made the situation is too often downplayed. I’ve seen it from the office side. There is serious resistance to accept junior officer’s concerns at face value. On the other side, few people in the office would want to accept the risk of giving orders in terms of vessel routing in a storm. Nobody wants that liability or weight on their shoulders if something were to happen. If weather routing service is activated and guidance given, 99% of office staff simply say the weather routing people know more than me and any deviations can be made by the Master.

The inclusion of vessel superintendents, fleet managers, up to the DPA in BRM-esque training has always been part of the complete picture to me - not only for the benefit of shipboard communications, but inter-office discussions. The altruisms “we’ve done it this way for 30 years” and “we’ve always worked with these same contractors forever” is commonplace on shore just as on the ships, among others. Different topics but same mentality.


That’s what the useless DPA is for. You wouldn’t believe the shit we had to explain to that person that didn’t include driving through a hurricane.


I have a personal pet peeve with the term “the office”. With one company I worked for I’d send queries by email and get a response stating “the office” did or did not agree with my course of action. No problem if “the office” agreed but if this "“office” did not agree I would ask the name of the “office” so I could respond. Of course I knew the “office” was likely the person I was reporting to and his immediate superior but they didn’t have balls enough to say it was their decision so they blamed “the office”. Eventually I resigned the company and when the COO asked me why I told him I preferred to work for people not inanimate offices. He concurred and in the future instructed his people to put their name to any decision they made. I think the term used was “take ownership of your decisions”


You guys work for some pretty crappy companies it seems.
I think the better DPAs actually sailed, in a senior role, and make sure they are available to the crews if they ever do call or email

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Only a two day course in Australia. You would certainly want to appoint the right person, with the required experience/ certification, to this position.

Most of the DPAs I’ve encountered are not qualified for the role.

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Promoted to their level of incompetence.


Even still, you’d think if a ship called and said “hey we’re in the fucking eye of hurricane Ian can you help us,” even an incompetent one would do something about it.

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It might help if junior officers had more to report than just some vague “I don’t like this”. If there was a requirement to maintain a paper plot and generate and log numbers for CPA (Closest Point of Approach) to the center and max winds expected that would give the crew something more concrete to report.

Another approach would be to add material on Mitigated Speech to the required classes.

Supposedly they sailed right through the eye. There’s no need for a paper plot at that point.

The point of hurricane avoidance is to avoid.

I posted about practices that make it easier for junior mates to report possible problems by reducing ambiguity here.

In this case if the planned track took the vessel inside, say the forecast 50 kts wind field, that’s something specific the mate could report to the DPA (or whomever) and the DPA could then call and ask the captain about.

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It just goes to show how much the “office” doesn’t give a flying fuck about the ships. I’m sure they had a discussion with the Captain before the ship left Charleston, and I’m sure he gave them an appropriate plan they approved, that didn’t include driving through a hurricane.

And then they stopped paying attention, and let a ship do exactly that. Obviously nobody was watching.

Here’s the post from the other thread.

In this case "ship’s planned track is inside the forecast 64 kt. wind field (for example) is clear and unambiguous.

Come on. If your office opened up the ship tracking and overlayed the weather on top of it they would shit charcoal if they saw you in the center of a hurricane.


If it saves money, no damage, and no one gets hurt then it was a great decision by the master!

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I guess I don’t understand your point.

The mates would want to call the DPA or whoever if they believed the captain’s avoidance action was not sufficient. But there’s a problem that there’s a strong belief that “the captain is always right”. So they are up against that.

Are you saying the mates would be calling while in the eye?

Sure wasn’t the case this time!

Mate to office: Current weather conditions? The sky is clear with light variable winds and a slight chop.