The drilling and training of the crew continues un-abated as we are nearing the moment for the Inspectors to come on board and who deem if the ship, and all of us are safe and are able to keep it safe. Every ship has a Passport which has to be issued by the Flag State. This passport is made up of a number of main certificates which cover a plethora of smaller certificates (Literally 1000’s of them) but a few of them are very important. The two most important ones are: The PSSC, or Passenger Ship Safety Certificate and the ISM or International Safety Management Certificate.
The first one is the cover certificate which states that we are in compliance with all the Solas regulations or Safety at Sea and the second one covers the way we comply with the rules. Under the ISM code the Inspectors have to be very focused on compliance with requirements under the MLC 2006 convention. These rules cover the way the crew work and live and how they are treated by the company. As not every shipping company is as focused on these aspects as they should be, the IMO (International Maritime Organization) places much emphasis on scrutinizing these aspects. Thus the crew cabins are built on board in accordance, or exceeding the MLC rules and similar regulations apply to the general wellbeing on board, food, health, basically everything which could affect the proper living circumstances of the sailor. We have nothing to worry about here of course as HAL looks extremely well after its crew but it has to inspected and checked.
The most important inspection is however the PSSC. Do all the safety systems work and does the crew know how to use them? The shipyard has to ensure that everything is working but we have to ensure that we know how to use the equipment in a professional and safe way. The most important thing is to get everybody safely off the ship and for that we need 1036 crew marching to the same tune and thus we drill.
The passenger mustering (Guest Safety Briefing) is completely different on this ship compared to the rest of the fleet as the Guests will now muster inside. So we have to retune the thinking of the crew completely to achieve this. It is not a matter of just marching from your cabin and then directly to you lifeboat. No from your cabin you go to your muster station, which is a public area, and then when your lifeboat is ready, you march from the Muster area to the lifeboat and walk straight into it. A sort of waiting comfortably for your taxi to arrive/be ready and when it is there, get up and hop in.
Thus while the shipyard continues with finishing off the ship we run around with fire hoses and lifejackets. After each drill there is a debriefing which involves all the stake holders and which can take up to an hour to ensure we do not forget any small details which might turn out to be the virtual spanner in the wheel.
T.he remainder of the crew is busy with bringing more and more furnishings into the ship. Materials which were all stored away in Guests Cabins. What did also continue throughout the weekend, maybe because it was so quiet, was the installation of more art. Framed artwork is being hung in all the public spaces on the public room decks 2 and 3 but also larger items are being unveiled. My “Art piece of the day” is a sculpture which rises through the deck from the lower level dining room up to the upper level. This piece is in the forward part of the dining room while the wine tower, which also rises through the two levels, is in the aft part of the dining room. As all the labeling is still missing I cannot exactly explain what this is but it is quite fascinating.