Posted Nov. 12, 2016, 2:06 p.m.

HAZARDOUS OCCURRENCES ON SUPERYACHTS  (This complete editorial can be found at: Edition 30)


It’s Never Too Late To Learn


By Captain John Rose MNM, ExC


In a world where the working environment encourages a Just Culture for safety i.e.where people are not punished for actions, omissions or decisions taken by them which are commensurate with their experience and training, but where gross negligence, wilful violations and destructive acts are not tolerated, the silence from those working in the Superyacht industry is extraordinary! The question to ask is why is this section of the maritime industry lagging behind? Is this due to apathy amongst the crew or maybe we have always done it this way; or is it fear of reprimand from fellow crew members, yacht managers or owners, or is it just plain ignorance of good practice?


A closer look reveals that it is not just the seafarers at fault.  The sharing of information by Superyacht managers and owners, especially data obtained through the lessons learned from incidents and hazardous occurrence reports is very limited; equally the ability to assess and openly share meaningful information and trends in safety performance of shipboard operations is not readily available.


The formal review and careful assessment of incidents is rarely adopted when looking at reports on ‘near misses’, this is despite the fact that the difference between a near miss (or a ‘near hit’ is perhaps a more accurate description) and an incident causing damage or injury is often just a matter of luck. 


So why ignore safety lessons learned from a near miss or hazardous occurrence?  After all they provide valuable information on causal factors, namely the latent defects and human behaviour or the ‘Human Element’ as this is now more commonly known.


The ‘Latent Defects’ are defined as contributory factors in the system that may be dormant for a long time (days, weeks, or months) until they finally contribute to the accident or near miss. Analysis uses 11 categories, the most frequent relate to communication, design, housekeeping, incompatible goals and training.


The ‘Human Element’ is all about people’s ability and capability to deal effectively and safely with the complexity, difficulty, pressures and workload of their daily tasks, not only in emergency situations but also during routine operations. People problems can be divided into 12 categories, or the ‘Deadly Dozen’, the behaviours most likely to kill or injure you or your fellow crewmembers. The most prominent categories identified when analysing reports are: Alerting (Do you speak up when you should do?); Complacency (Does every person comply with check lists and procedures prior to commencing and during the work being undertaken?); Communication (Is the message understood by everyone involved?), and Culture (Is there an effective safety culture onboard?).


The Superyacht industry continues to grow, both in the number and the physical size of vessels being built, therefore the adoption of good safety practice in everyday operations becomes increasingly important. The rest of the maritime industry does not have a good opinion of Superyacht managers and owners when it comes to safety standards and their commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility. There is no better time than the present to start to address this weakness, the failure to learn the lessons from near misses and minor incidents will increase the likelihood of incidents that will incur real costs and profit leakage for both the managers and the owners.


Don’t be despondent; there is proven support readily available to help improve safety awareness amongst seafarers.  The Charitable Trust CHIRP (Confidential Hazardous Incident Reporting Programme) promotes the enhancement of maritime safety by providing a totally independent confidential reporting system for all employees or persons associated with the shipping and maritime industries. The work focuses on commercial and recreational activities whether these are at sea or at the interface between the vessel and ashore.   CHIRP is a well-established and respected programme backed by a board of trustees consisting of senior leaders from the shipping industry. A Maritime Advisory Board of 22 members provides over 700 years of maritime expertise, they review the reports on hazardous occurrences and their findings with recommendations are published in our Maritime FEEDBACK publication. 


To help raise awareness and provide on-site help, two volunteer Superyacht ambassadors promote the work and publications, for those interested, more volunteer ambassadors will be made most welcome to join CHIRP.  Electronic versions of the past 41 editions of Maritime FEEDBACK  are available from the CHIRP website:-


As an example of the valuable information freely available to readers, there is advice on reports received on non-compliance with the Collision Regulations, the launching and recovery of RIB’s and the danger of ‘hooking’ when operating them, use of lifejackets and maintenance of the same, damage from wake, entry into enclosed spaces, fatigue, galley risks, machinery space risks and many more.


The role of CHIRP is to review all hazardous occurrence reports received and share any learning in order to help preserve human life and prevent injury. To reassure any reader that may be considering submitting a report; all reports received are processed to ensure the reporters’ identities are kept confidential, the reporter is advised of the proposed action plan and can agree or stop the process if the reporter is fearing any form of reprimand as a result of any enquiry relating to the report. Likewise the details of those who take action to remedy the problem are not shared with the reporter.  On closure of each report all records of the names of individuals and companies are removed.


We have 13 years experience and have never exposed the identity of a reporter, even when only four people were on board a vessel we were still able to help fix the problem, in that case it related to the lack of safety drills being undertaken.


CHIRP Maritime can help and provide guidance on safety matters in the Superyacht industry. Have a look at our web site or better still, contact us when you want to discuss safety on your vessel or relating to those hazardous occurrences seen on third party vessels when operating in close proximity to yours.


Before dismissing this subject as ‘not important’, please consider the common ambition amongst seafarers, that every crewmember should return safely to family and loved ones at the end of each and every trip!



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