Those of us who attended the break-out session on accident and incident reporting at the 2016 Global Superyacht Forum were comforted to learn from the two managers on the podium that we, the collective superyacht industry, have this well and truly ‘in the bag’.

Except that we don’t.

The two excellent speakers had both previously worked with flag state administrations and gave an account of how the process should be carried out. Comprehensive report forms submitted from the boat and useful feedback from management with effective follow-up action are essential, but this only works if three vital criteria are fully met.

Primarily, the management company needs to be one that understands or cares about incident reporting. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, ‘It’s the management, stupid’. We have seen the guys who do it properly, but unless the owner stumbles through the door of managers such as Burgess, Edmiston or Wright Maritime Group, then a reporting culture may be lacking. Secondly, the captain and crew must understand the benefits of a reporting culture without fear of reprisal or blame. In my experience, gains from sharing incident reports are readily accepted by seafarers who are avid readers but they feel constrained in reporting their own incidents by the likely reaction (or their perceived view of it) of the manager or owner. And this brings me to my third point. The owner should agree to any safety (let’s also chuck in environment, health and security) incidents occurring on board his private asset being shared beyond the passerelle.

You can see where this is going. I admire the captain who takes five minutes of the boss’s time during a happy cruise to ask his view on reporting a near miss of, say, a crewmember working outboard without a harness. I find the term ‘educating the owner’ to be offensive and patronising, but appreciate that this does need to be put to the principal with sensible, sound and convincing reasoning. This may be awkward but it comes with the pay grade, I’m afraid, and a flat ‘no’ cannot be the final answer.

Image: Serious accident on board M/Y Ocean Victory in 2016 - read the story here.

This article will appear in full in the Owner section of issue 176 of The Superyacht Report.

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