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A ticking time bomb: the solutions?

Managers and flag states illustrate how they would manage continual non-compliance of working hours…

In this SuperyachtNews article, a captain outlined the realities of  complying with the Maritime Labour Convention’s regulations of hours of work and rest. Here, we speak to flag states and managers, who explain how they handle any incidents of non-compliance...

What should a yacht’s management company do in the case of continual non-compliance with the Maritime Labour Convention’s (MLC) working hours of rest? Guy Waddilove, founder and director of 8 Yachts, recommends implementing a number of measures to try to improve the situation on a yacht within the fleet. These include: making a senior crewmember responsible for hours-of-rest management; ensuring the captain is fully aware of the hours of rest and that all crew are well versed in the MLC’s rules; and checking the forms for errors before submitting them to the management company, which then also needs to guarantee their accuracy. “Careful monitoring of the pinch points where hours of rest are exceeded can highlight modifications that can alleviate problems,” advises Waddilove. “For example, if officers are out of hours due to a number of overnight or longer passages, you would consider employing another crewmember (or encouraging an existing crewmember to upgrade qualifications) with the required deck ticket to help this problem.”

When it comes to enforcing regulations, a yacht’s flag state is often the first to undertake inspections and highlight any non-compliance issues. “Yachts less than 500gt tend to experience the most problems with management of hours of rest,” begins Angus Lamming, principal surveyor at the Isle of Man Ship Registry. “The smaller the yacht, the smaller the crew, and the more demanding the owner or charterer, the more frequently hours of rest are inadequate.” This corresponds with the earlier comments from the captain who sees the design of superyachts (and the inadequate space for crew) as a core reason for non-compliance issues.

Lamming continues, “If meeting convention minima is shown to be a problem, we will raise deficiencies accordingly during external audits but this then forms a starting point for discussion of the issue, and agreement of means for instigating corrective action, with charterer, owner and flag. Opening a constructive and supportive dialogue is often half the battle in the attempt to find a resolution.” The flag and yacht should then work together to deal with the issues encountered, rather than pointing fingers and placing the blame on individuals.

“If a captain is finding that crew are consistently not achieving the minimum rest required, then it is clear that the yacht is not sufficiently manned,” says Adam Jackson, head of ensign at the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA). Jackson offers a number of solutions, including adding a crewmember to cope with the work, ensuring a smoother management of working rotas and the yacht implementing restrictions on guests such as ‘a tender service that stops at midnight or drinks only available until 1am’.

“If a captain is finding that crew are consistently not achieving the minimum rest required, then it is clear that the yacht is not sufficiently manned”

“Regulators, whether flag or Port State Control, have, therefore, no sympathy for contraventions of the rules for the sake of guest services,” warns Jackson. “Captains, owners and yacht managers should also have no tolerance for such contraventions.” This exemplifies the collaborative approach needed to tackle such problems; each party (be it owner, captain, flag or manager) must understand the enormity of fatigue-related accidents in the market, and how this goes hand in hand with continual non-compliance with working hours.

Some flags, such as Palau International Ship Registry, have tried to ensure their vessels have the right environment in which to adequately comply with the MLC regulations. ‎Technical manager Marisabel Arauz Park explains that the registry has a dedicated Deficiency Prevention System (DPS) that monitors many facets of each individual yacht, including the location and destination. The system then analyses their ‘risk performance and priority for inspection by a Port State Control Officer’. This removes room for human error or discrepancies in the logging process of hours worked.

As the industry, and the yachts within it, grow in size, the regulations too must develop and adjust as the market moves forwards. There has to be an open dialogue between all elements of a yacht’s senior team, as well as the owner, to understand the potential risks of not allowing crew to have enough rest. Rather than focusing on the reports themselves and individual yachts, the industry must examine the reasons behind continual non-compliance of hours of rest on a broader level, looking at everything from design to the attitudes to crew on board. There must be a concerted effort on the part of all involved to take the danger of fatigued crewmembers seriously, and put their safety before commercial considerations.


Profile links

MCA - Maritime and Coastguard Agency / Ensign

Red Ensign Group

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