Military approach to seafaring
October 22, 2012
A new captain
is hired for a new vessel and shortly after is asked what challenges he or she
faces on the new vessel. What do you think the captain said?
imagine it would be “there’s not enough established doctrine or written procedures
to follow.” Perhaps if ISM (international safety management code) had been
implemented as intended (to minimize human error by following written procedures
that represent best practices) he might have said such a thing. But that
culture, to my knowledge, has not been established on the civilian side of
seafaring. While working with companies to implement ISM and other safety
management programs, I often use the example of how when serving on Coast Guard
cutters there was a right way to do everything and it was written down in
manuals. There were almost no checklists used because everything had to be
learned, practiced, memorized and drilled. From this perspective, a
real safety culture is one where the word “safety” is never mentioned. I can’t
remember ever hearing it on any Coast Guard cutter. There was only the right
way to do things.
In Dale DuPont’s interview on Workboat.comwith Lt. Cmdr. Craig Allen,
commanding officer of the Coast Guard cutter William Flores, I was pleased to see that some things never change.
When asked what challenges he faces on his new vessel, he says that their
biggest hurdle is that there is not enough established doctrine or procedures
to follow. That’s exactly what he said.
Allen explains that they will have to make them up from scratch based upon
lessons learned and best practices. This is an example of what the Coast
Guard’s safety culture looks like. The Coast Guard is not a top-notch
organization by accident. How excellent is your operation?
For more information, visit Maritime Compliance International.