- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

25 September 2012; Off the coast of Oregon.

As expected the ship was a bit lively, courtesy of wind and waves hitting the ship on the starboard quarter. That produces a sort of corkscrew motion; a combination of a bit of rolling and a bit of pitching but in an irregular way. Still I was quite happy with the state of affairs as I have seen it much worse during this time of the year here. I was just very glad that we did not have to go the other way. So we surfed away with the weather, had the ship being going the other way, we would have been pushing against it. I do not think that I would have been able to go much faster than 15 knots then and still would have had to deal with severe pitching against the long running swell. We passed a tug and tow this morning, battling its way northbound and I do not think that the skipper was a very happy camper; sliding & gliding up and down the waves with a yawning barge behind him. But we are running away from it all, and the weather will only get better the closer we get to San Diego.

On board the crew were in a heightened state of activity behind the scenes. We have our yearly DPV audit. D.P.V stands for Designated Person Visit. For some years all the company’s have to operate under the ISM code. The International Ship Management code. This can be compared in a way to an ISO protocol, only it is compulsory. It means that a shipping company has to implement procedures to monitor its safety practices and that there has to be a review of those as well by internal and external auditors. The Designated Person is part of this internal auditing system. The DP stands a little bit outside the regular company structure as he/she has the power to bypass every Director and VP in the company and go directly to the CEO if there is a major problem within the system and nobody follows up. The CEO is personally responsible for the good operation of the ISM code in a company and thus there is this bypass system.

Once a year the DP or his delegate has to visit each ship in the company and do an internal review. Basically this means that the ships operation is checked against the Safety Management System (SMS) that the company has implemented to comply with the ISM code. This system is documented in a series of books which we call the Marine Regulations. Those regulations cover nearly everything that we do on board and how we do it. From the drills to the way we do maintenance.

ladder To give one example of how far this system goes with requirements; There has to be a yearly ladder check. All ladders on board from small to large have to be inspected at least once a year for sturdiness and safe working. They then get a new color code. Rickety ladders etc. are discarded. A ship normally has about 50 to 60 ladders on board, from small step ladders for ceiling work to the tall ladders for stage work. Every “owner” brings his ladder to inspection by the safety officer and if approved gets this mark. The owner normally waits for his ladder to prevent somebody else with walking off with it, as step ladders are “hot property” and there never seem to be enough of them.

Ladders being assembled, tested and marked in the ships provision loading area.

This current DPV audit lasts until tomorrow and is a focused DPV. That means that the auditor does not look at everything, but focuses on 10 points in depth. A necessity as the system is too extensive to check on everything. We have two auditors on board, a gentlemen whose focus is on the safety issues and regulatory compliance (paperwork that is being asked for by outside authorities) and a lady who is concentrating on the environmental aspect of our operation. That means tracking waste flows, handling of waste flows, reporting and controlling. I have no doubt that the Statendam is doing well, but we will find out tomorrow the true status, when we get our first interim report.

Tomorrow morning the wind and swell should start to die down, also because Hurricane Miriam is pushing other weather to the north, and it will all meet in the area between San Francisco and Los Angeles. If the North is pushing harder, we will have sunshine tomorrow and still strong winds and swell, if the south pushes harder, we will have overcast skies but less wind and less swell. Very hard to predict, it is a matter of wait and see.

2 Comments

  1. I have faith in both you and HAL. Unlike RCI with their major sewage scandal years ago.

  2. …and the Veendam (sp?) just failed a CDC inspection. Bad things can happen to cruise lines…hopefully, they learn from their mistakes and move on, so we can all continue to enjoy our cruises. (sorry, my sensitivities are showing 🙂

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