Ocean Time Marine has recently launched its new Safety Management System (SMS) software, allowing captains and crews to write their own SMS. We put this concept to the industry and ask if a captain writing his or her own SMS is a viable option and solution.

“I’m completely in support of captains writing their own SMS. Indeed, we would suggest that an SMS written without collaboration of the user is a wasted exercise,” Adrian McCourt, managing director at Watkins Superyachts tells The Crew Report.

“The best person to write the SMS is the captain and crew,” adds Mick Uberti of Ocean Time Marine. “Just because there are consultants for virtually any need you could imagine, doesn’t mean that you should use one. A consultant may do a great job of writing an SMS but are they really the best person to identify your risks and how to mitigate them?”

“I would suggest that the management company could produce the framework for the SMS but have the crew produce section seven, which is the front-end user operating procedures – a partnership."

There is a place for management when it comes to SMS, however. A good management company can provide support – something that is becoming more valuable as the level of paperwork captains and senior crew have to deal with grows. In addition, McCourt does point out that the yacht’s SMS only exists as long as the designated person ashore (DPA) or management company has a valid document of compliance, and that both DPA or management company and yacht systems must be complementary.

“I would suggest that the management company could produce the framework for the SMS but have the crew produce section seven, which is the front-end user operating procedures – a partnership,” he says. “Two parties producing a management system from separate angles and then trying to dovetail them together would seem a laborious exercise and rather a drain on resources.”

Getting a crew involved in the SMS will also improve its effectiveness in achieving its goal, adds Uberti. “Without commitment from the captain and senior crew your SMS will not be effective. The best way to get captains and senior crew ‘on board’ is to have them take control of their own safety, and write it themselves, in a language we all understand.”

What is important is that captains and crew understand the importance of en effective and useful SMS. How superyachts go about this can differ, however.

Some will utilise software, such as that offered by Ocean Time Marine. “What most yacht captains and crew need is a starting point. Ocean Time Maritime prodive a platform that will assist them in writing their own SMS.”

For others, software isn’t necessarily the answer. “I can’t really see any need for a boat to buy a product that shows them how to write a manual,” says McCourt, who adds that the below is a simple and effect solution:
  • Use the section headings of the code as your chapters
  • Write a procedure for each section
  • Say what you do, do what you say, and record it
  • Review what you have written and delete anything that you don’t need or the code doesn’t need – this will probably reduce your final draft by 75 per cent
  • Repeat the process
  • Have the crew read and comment objectively
  • Repeat the review at regular intervals – add only what is essential and delete what is not
  • Keep deleting

McCourt also adds that attending an ISM course – something Watkins Superyachts offers on a regular bases – is hugely beneficial to those wishing to write their own SMS – but reminds captains that if the yacht is ISM-compliant the DPA must be involved.

The Crew Report is interested to hear from captains about how they put together the superyacht’s SMS. Please comment below or email lulu@thesuperyachtgroup.com