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Operational Excellence through Leadership and Compliance

Maritime Compliance Report

Welcome. Staying in compliance takes dedication, diligence and strong leadership skills to stay on top of all the requirements which seem to keep coming at a rapid pace. With this blog I hope to provide visitors with content that will help them in their daily work of staying in compliance. I hope you find it a resource worthy of your time and I look forward to your feedback, questions, comments and concerns. Thanks for stopping by.

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Workboat Show 2013 Wrap up

The Workboat Show this year was a little warmer than most, as it is usually held in December, but the “Subchapter M” buzz has certainly cooled off since last year’s show. As the years go by, with no word of when the final rule may come, many have become desensitized.


Despite the uncertainty surrounding the topic, we did fill the room for our conference session on Subchapter M. The panelist, including myself, shared our ideas on the need and methodology for training, compliance management, and preparation for the impending regulations. The session was well received and ended with spirited round of questions and answers that could have gone on for at least another thirty minutes.

 

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Workboat Show 2013

Don’t miss the 2013 Workboat Show. It’s not in December this year. In fact, it’s only three weeks away. The International Workboat Show will take place at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans from October 9th through October 11th.


Once again, there is a big demand for information regarding Subchapter M, the proposed towing vessel inspection regulations. On Wednesday October 9th, from 1:00pm until 2:00pm, I will be participating in a panel discussion on Subchapter M. The Workboat Show website describes the session as follows:

 

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Checklists

When should a checklist be required?


Have you ever wondered why a watch relief checklist is common in the industry, but a bridge transit procedure checklist is not? I’m not sure the reason is given much thought. Consultants seem to think lots of forms make their manuals more professional, managers like the idea of having everything documented, and mariners feel they are the victims of a useless paperwork onslaught. A mariner, who was sick of all the foolish paperwork he was forced to do, once wrote about making a fake ISM form for how many sugar cubes were used by individuals at the ship’s coffee mess. His point was proved when the crew did indeed; fill out the ISM sugar cube usage form.

 

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A “Good” Inspector

In the past, I have heard many opinions from vessel operators on what they consider a “good” Coast Guard marine inspector to be. The majority opinion has been that good inspectors apply “common sense” in enforcing regulations, or that they do not necessarily, “follow the book.” I disagree.


The truth is, enforcing prescriptive regulations has very little to do with applying common sense. Enforcing performance or management based regulations if a different story altogether, but we’ll save that for future discussions.  While some regulations may seem to be drafted without “common sense,” the authority to waive them is above an inspector’s pay grade. An inspector who is not knowledgeable of the regulations he is charged with enforcing, or is not thorough or consistent in enforcing them, is not doing anyone any favors.

 

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Unraveling Subchapter M

The level of understanding of Subchapter M runs the gamut from nonexistent to expertise. Some in the towing industry have been involved with the process for the past eight years, helping to steer the direction of the final rule. Others in the towing industry have still never heard of a TSMS or think Subchapter M is a pipe dream which will never come to fruition. So here’s a basic recap for those who may have been too busy to pay attention.

 

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The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Sometimes I feel like the boy who cried wolf. I study all maritime related regulations and policies and warn my clients about the severe consequences of noncompliance. All too often the bark is much worse than the bite when it comes to these things due to minimal or nonexistent enforcement.  But when they do bite, it hurts. It hurts not only from the penalty, but from a sense of injustice. Vessel owners think, “Why am I being singled out? This was never an issue before? What about the company down the road?” For whatever reason, selective enforcement is a reality that we must live with. But every regulation ignored, or complied with in a half-assed manner, is a roll of the dice. To be fair, there are many companies who choose to minimize their risk by accepting responsibility and dedicate themselves to getting it right. However, there is no denying that the “wait and see” strategy works and has worked for many years.

 

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Pressure Cooker Bombs?

Pressure cooker bombs! Who knew?


You did hopefully. That is, if you are a “Company, Vessel or Facility Security Officer.” The tragic events of this week’s Boston Marathon should have come as no surprise to those charged by federal regulations with having, “…general knowledge through training or on the job experience in… recognition of dangerous substances and devices.”


Ten years ago, when the Maritime Transportation Security Act regulations were published by the Coast Guard, I was hired by a training company as a subject matter expert to develop a course. It was during my research for this project that I first heard of the pressure cooker bomb. The information that I gathered at the time was that this type of improvised explosive device (IED) was very popular in Malaysia. I incorporated many kinds of IEDs into the course, including pressure cooker bombs.

 

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No Deficiencies?

Many vessel operators claim that Coast Guard inspections are notoriously inconsistent. They claim such things as, “One Coast Guard guy came and told me it had to be this way, and next year another one came and told me to do something else, and the next year a third guy came back and told me to do it the way we had it in the first place.” This unfortunately is true altogether too often, especially when it comes to dealing with inexperienced inspectors or examiners.

 

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TWIC Readers

“I thought TWICs were going away?”  I have heard this many times over the past year. They are not. Many believe TWIC is a useless program. The truth is TWIC is a very important program, but few understand it.


Basically, the most important purpose of a TWIC is to not allow anyone, unescorted, into a secure area of a vessel or facility unless we know they are not a terrorist and they have a card to prove it. This may seem like nonsense to some, but if a major terrorist organization can send a terrorist spy to the U.S. and infiltrate the CIA, FBI and Army Special Warfare command, then they can surely send some to infiltrate the maritime industry. In fact, during one joint FBI/ USCG operation, a significant number of individuals “having a nexus to terrorism matters,” were found to have U.S. merchant mariner documents and they were subsequently placed on the terrorist watch list and the no-fly list. Furthermore, officials recently uncovered a major plot to attack the maritime industry because it is viewed as a soft target by terrorists.

 

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Subchapter M Alliances and Software

Check out this interesting article on Subchapter M alliances and software being developed:


http://www.marinelink.com/news/surfaces-chapter-finally351557.aspx
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