Thursday, May 30, 2013

5/30/2013 Merchant Marine Interest


        People If You Value Your Health And Safety Boycott Open registry Cruise Lines.

cruise ship in port
Public domain image of cruise ship in port by Dusan Bicanski

From Huff Post TRAVEL: 

Fire Breaks Out Aboard Royal Caribbean's Cruise Ship Grandeur Of The Seas

BALTIMORE — A fire that broke out aboard a Royal Caribbean ship Monday did enough damage that the rest of the cruise was canceled and the company said the more than 2,200 passengers will be flown from the Bahamas back to Baltimore where the trip began.
The fire that began at 2:50 a.m. Monday was extinguished about two hours later with no injuries reported. A cause wasn't immediately known. The Grandeur of the Seas, which left Baltimore on Friday, never lost power and was able to sail into port in Freeport, Bahamas, Monday afternoon. It had been planned to be a seven-night cruise.
Royal Caribbean said on its website and through social media that executives met with passengers in port and that the cruise line is arranging flights for all 2,224 guests on Tuesday. It said passengers will receive a full refund of their fare and a certificate for a future cruise.
EDITORIAL NOTE: If you recall our previous coverage of "open registry "cruise lines starting over a year ago with the  grounding in Italy, and running through more recent fires, mechanical failures, and disease out breaks you shouldn't be surprised to be reading about another bunch of American passengers going home happy to be alive but minus their vacation time without  any real vacation. The problem people, is something that Namazu is going to address in the near future and its called "operational excellence". Its what you need to run complex marine operations like cruise liners with a reasonable expectation of being able to deliver as advertised. The accidents we have been reading about all year and into last year are happening on cruise ships, some American owned ,but registered in foreign nations offering "open registries". . Far too many of the big cruise operators have opted to flag out and go with these open registries like Liberia and Panama. They do this to control costs on both labor and safety and security. Their ships may be large and opulent and full of passenger amenities, but that also means that they are complex mechanisms operating in the dynamic sea environment. When a cruise ship operator begins his safety program by aiming at the low hanging fruit that we know of as minimal regulatory compliance, and then selects from the flags that have the lowest level of regulatory compliance standards it is impossible for such an operator to ever achieve anything near "operational excellence". Operational excellence is that proactive preventative maintenance and operational planning, and discipline in daily operations that stops bad things from happening before they start. Operational excellence can't evolve from minimal regulatory compliance with a minimal standard flag state set of rules.
 We'd be the first to tell you that cruising has a lot to recommend it as a vacation alternative. We wish we could tell you that there are all sorts of American flag alternatives but in fact they are limited. There are large river cruise vessels under the American flag and some small, yacht like coastal cruisers and these are all delightful trips with companies with cracker jack performance records. But there are no American Flag full sized ocean cruise vessels. This is the fault of Congress and it decades long failure to establish a coherent American commercial maritime policy. But there are other true national flag operators out there. Great Britain and Norway each have cruise ships under their own flag and officered by their own nationals, and regulated by their own Boards of Trade with excellent performance and safety records. We haven't reviewed their records and couldn't tell you if such national lines have actually achieved "operational excellence", but they don't have the accident records of the open registries and they must maintain a state of "robust compliance" with the more extensive national shipping codes of real seafaring states. Here are a couple of contacts:

The  P&O Line of Great Britain  Generally British and Common wealth Flags, British owned, British regulated.
About 7 ships of various sizes offering cruises throughout the World, including occasionally Seattle to Alaska via the Canadian Inside Passage. This is a 175 year old line and recognized as perhaps the best in the world. They charge a little more than the open registries competition but the service is better and you are far less likely to have your vacation interrupted by a safety issue.

A more reliable open registry or "semi open registry"the Bahamas: Quite a few cruise lines have ships registered in the Bahamas which is a British Commonwealth flag with stricter safety regulations than most of the other open registries. Officers are usually British or Common wealth nationals with uniform British inspired training and standards.

REMEMBER THAT WHEN YOU STEP ABOARD A CRUISE SHIP ONCE IT LEAVES AMERICAN WATERS IT HAS LEFT AMERICAN LAW BEHIND. At least with a British or common wealth flag you will be under a legal regime  that shares its roots with the American system, conducts tribunals in English, and is rarely corrupt. The flag state of your cruise ship counts. Know before you go.

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