From 17-18 March, The Superyacht Group joined 30 superyacht captains at the 2016 Captains Meeting, hosted by Floating Life Yacht Management, to discuss the industry’s key safety and security issues for operators.

Straying from the minutiae of the myriad rules and regulations to which each and every superyacht must adhere, discussions focused on the minimisation of risk through a focus on software (people), as opposed to hardware (the yacht itself).

Andrea Pezzini warned of an impending crew refresher training crisis. 

Enrico Ursomando, a RINA representative, told delegates that approximately 80 per cent of incidents occurred as a result of human error, be it fatigue or lack of qualifications. Andrea Pezzini, the owner of Floating Life, disputed this with his own view that these errors may not even be the fault of those on board, suggesting instead that human error can occur at any moment in a yacht’s life, from its creation in the shipyard all the way until its eventual demise.

 Floating Life's Barbara Tambani.

The conclusions reached espoused the importance of awareness and working relationships for the minimisation of risk. Where once the survey was king, it has been usurped by the importance of auditing. While surveys still have their place in ensuring a superyacht’s hardware is up to scratch, audits have risen to prominence because of the priority that they give to limiting and highlighting human error.

Paperwork, Ursomando explained, is only the proof of your procedures. “Brain, procedure, paperwork,” he said, highlighting that experience, awareness and adaptability must form the foundation of safety procedures, with paperwork representing proof.

With mention of proof, delegates began to explore the importance of the relationship between captain and yacht manager – a relationship that has not always been a comfortable one. Pezzini, recognising the issues that have occurred between captains and managers in the past, announced that he hoped for, and was actively pursuing, specific yacht management certification in the future, for Floating Life and the industry as a whole, thereby separating the professionals from the cowboy management services.

“If we have a good relationship with a captain, when a superyacht encounters dangerous conditions, we can be a big help,” Pezzini explained. “Know that I am able to help you, otherwise, what do you use a management company for? The manager has the ability to share responsibility with a captain.”

Day two’s discussions moved away from safety and awareness towards the 2010 Manila Amendments, taxation and fiscal representation.

The Manila Amendments, which came into force in 2012 with a five-year transitional period, were created to ensure global standards will be in place to train and certify seafarers. A yacht’s current certification will no longer be accepted by the end of 2016, and as an industry we have, by and large, been too slow on the uptake.

 

In light of the need for major shipping and oil companies to also comply by 1 January 2017, and the lack of schools qualified to issue the updated certification, superyacht personnel are going to find it extremely difficult to obtain certification because of over-subscription to the requisite courses. Large companies have booked all the available spaces they can in order to ensure a certified work force. The IMO’s current stance is that there will be no further extension, given that there was a five-year transition period.

 

In the case of Italy, it was said, governing bodies have been so slow to adapt to the new legislation that there are currently no schools certified to qualify candidates in accordance with Manila. Furthermore, it was reported Italian schools have been blocked booked for two years, in the hope they become certified. This is likely to cause major problems as of January 2017.


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