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Old 10-21-2015, 01:47 PM   #141
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Good luck with that on a commercial ship. This isn't a vacation and we're not friends, we're here to make money.
Finding the VDR will put the Monday Morning QBs to rest and it should tell us when the plant was lost. Once again, nothing wrong with sailing through a TS or a Cat 1 with some proper planning and CPAs
Cappy & Salty Dawg, thank you for sharing in a very candid way.

But most read what you say, but don't hear what you're saying.

In my preparation for my "pleasure" sea going career, I tried to read every book about cargo ships crossing oceans I could find. As i had been doing since high school.

I few things stood out:

1. it's clear that the commercial pressures exerted upon merchant mariners can not be understood by most. Owners and USGC have their own priorities.

2. These same mariners must be prepared to handle anything by themselves, and I mean anything. And if they don't handle it well, the owners will replace them. ANd the are NOT expected to call home and ask mom what to do.

3. Most boaters WANT to believe that weather forecasts will protect them; in spite of the evidence to the contrary. Simply put, one cannot put their life or boat on the line based on a weather forecast.

4. And about weather, don't confuse the display with the input. People think because they get the "super forecast" and it's every hour; the data is more accurate. It's NOT. It's all interpolation.

5. Lastly, one of the best books which describes the pressure in the merchant marine is "Until the Sea Shall Free Them: Life, Death and Survival in the Merchant Marine" by Robert Frump.

It's conclusion will shock many here. But what else is new
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Old 10-21-2015, 02:50 PM   #142
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Good luck with that on a commercial ship. This isn't a vacation and we're not friends, we're here to make money. ...
There were quite a few things that I learned in reading, http://www.amazon.com/Heavy-Weather-...casting+500+mb, which is coauthored by a ship captain. The captain has a couple of examples of his decisions regarding typhoon track prediction and his ships arrival/course/departure that were eye openers to me. He made decisions that were the opposite of other people. He figured his forecasting of the typhoon track was correct, and others were wrong, so he did what he felt best. He was right and they were wrong. He saved/made his company money by his decisions.

Course, if he had been wrong, the story might have been different but he is paid the big bucks to make the decisions.

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Old 10-21-2015, 03:08 PM   #143
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1. it's clear that the commercial pressures exerted upon merchant mariners can not be understood by most.
I think the part that is equally misunderstood is that some of us understand it but still don't like when it's excessive. This isn't a unique industry in terms of pressure being applied nor is it unique in pressure being applied to do things one shouldn't. From Wall Street to Corporate America to Commercial Ships to Little League Coaches to College professors. It is everywhere in life and I know some commercial mariners and former ones and have heard all their stories. I also have talked about those pressures to an acquaintance, who is an owner of a large commercial fleet of 200+ boats.

Everyone in every walk of life has to decide their limits. What they're push others to do, what they'll allow others to do, or what they will do when pushed or ordered by others. I'm not saying any of that is easy. I've known people to walk out on jobs under pressure to do things they felt they shouldn't and have no idea how they were going to explain it to their family or take care of their family. I've competed against it. I've been to manufacturing facilities around the world and been appalled. I've seen my competitors use those we would never consider with unsafe conditions and child labor. I've seen manufacturing in buildings that any reasonable authority would condemn.

As to El Faro, I don't know what was going on in the mind's of the decision makers. What I do know is only a small part of the actions. I believe personally, regardless of what additionally is found and whether or not the tragedy had occurred, that the risk undertaken was too great. That's a personal belief, but don't for one moment think I don't understand the way the industry works and the pressure.

There are other industries, such as off shore oil drilling, with worse risks too and while I'm glad someone works in them, I can't imagine doing so.

I'm just saying that all of you can feel free to disagree with my opinion on this, but don't think for one moment I don't understand the pressures in the industry.
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Old 10-21-2015, 03:21 PM   #144
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That's a personal belief, but don't for one moment think I don't understand the way the industry works and the pressure.

I'm just saying that all of you can feel free to disagree with my opinion on this, but don't think for one moment I don't understand the pressures in the industry.

I'm certainly not saying you don't understand. OTOH, for me, I'm saying I have no way of knowing whether that was or was not a factor in this particular incident. Few facts, no insight, so I'm not concluding excessive industry pressure had much (or anything) to do with it. Might have, might not have... but I have no reason to assume it was.

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Old 10-21-2015, 03:55 PM   #145
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....but don't think for one moment I don't understand the pressures in the industry.
Sorry, I don't buy that at all. Just because you "know some people" in the industry doesn't mean you actually know what the folks actually working in the industry have to deal with. All you know is what a few people have told you. That's not to say that what you've been told is wrong, but that's all you know and that is but a tiny fraction of what the people like SaltyDawg who actually work on the ships know and deal with on a daily basis.

The only way to truly understand all the factors that affect the owners and crews of vessels like the El Faro is to be them.

I can explain in excruciating detail the kinds of pressures the folks in our assembly plants face in turning out 42 737s a month and the kinds of pressures that affect the decisions our flight test pilots have to make when testing a new model. But even though I've worked in this industry for 35 years and work with these people on a daily basis and fly on the planes and work in the assembly plants with them, there is no way I can truly understand the kinds of pressures these people deal with on a daily basis because I'm not doing what they're doing.

Unless a person actually does a job, they have no real clue what that job really entails. And the more difficult and challenging and tough and risky that job is, the less outsiders will understand it.

When it comes to perceiving even a tiny glimmer of what it's like to operate a ship like the El Faro and the factors that affect the decisions that are made credibility comes from people like SaltyDawg and the handful of other commercial ship crew members who participate on this forum. Not from some toy boat driver.
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Old 10-21-2015, 04:00 PM   #146
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Imagine the decisions for the guys sitting in a nice, warm, safe, comfy ready room hearing that whether at fault or not, some captain in a hurricane is requesting assistance.


Maybe worse..the guy who OKs the rescue mission yet isn't going out.


Then let me know what you know about decision making in the face of risks.
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Old 10-21-2015, 04:15 PM   #147
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For many years I have followed cargolaw.com. It is astounding how many ships go down, roll over at the dock, run aground, evade pirates, collide etc. Add to that the tugs and barges plying the inland rivers and the count increases to several thousand opportunities per day for something to go wrong.

This has little to do with El Faro specifically but indirectly points out the myriad of issues that arise out of the ordinary and tragedies that ensue.



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Old 10-21-2015, 04:40 PM   #148
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Whether someone setting on the outside can understand the pressures or not is beside the point. You don't have to be on the ship in order to make a risk analysis. Someone (we do not know who) made the decision that sailing with a predicted hurricane in the area was an acceptable risk.

As far as the pressure on the captain to sail in the face of a hurricane or loose his job, I think the responsibility for a crew's safety far out weighs any job I would care to have.

Risk management is risk management. You don't have to be on a sinking ship to understand it.
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Old 10-21-2015, 04:43 PM   #149
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That's a naive statement. A plan that depends on everything going right describes every single airplane flight on the planet. It describes every single vessel trip on the planet. It describes my daily commute to work.

We don't set out in our boat, in our plane, or in our vehicles assuming that things will go wrong and that we'll crash and die. We set out prepared to deal with things if they do go wrong, but that's not the plan. The plan is for everything to go right and the plan is based on everything going right. Otherwise, we wouldn't go.

Maybe it's a matter of interpretation. I never plan on everything going right.

I plan for and assume things will go wrong on my trips, plan on how to deal with them if and when they do, and hope all goes right.

And that pretty much discribed the thinking of most, if not all, the captains and pilots I know.
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Old 10-21-2015, 04:51 PM   #150
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You don't have to be on the ship in order to make a risk analysis.
So you're saying a plumber on a ski slope in Colorado can make a risk assessment as to what a captain on a ship in the Atlantic or Pacific should do in the face of a storm? Sorry, I don't buy that notion for a second.

If you're not there, you don't know.

PS- I should modify that. If you're not there or haven't been there, you don't know.
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Old 10-21-2015, 05:03 PM   #151
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So you're saying a plumber on a ski slope in Colorado can make a risk assessment as to what a captain on a ship in the Atlantic or Pacific should do in the face of a storm? Sorry, I don't buy that notion for a second.

If you're not there, you don't know.
I don't remember saying anything about a plumber. Risk management is risk management. Sometimes it is best done by someone who does not have a dog in the fight.

I am not saying the captain or the company did anything wrong. We don't know the whole story yet, but the fact remains that someone took a (calculated or not) risk and 33 people are dead.

Do you believe this was just a freak accident and there was no human error?
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Old 10-21-2015, 05:06 PM   #152
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Marin, maybe if it was a fully automated ship the computer program would have made the risk analysis and waited.
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Old 10-21-2015, 06:46 PM   #153
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Do you believe this was just a freak accident and there was no human error?
What I believe is that I, along with everybody else on this forum, don't know squat about what happened or why and that speculating about it accomplishes nothing other than offering some people a chance to pretend they're some sort of expert at this sort of thing. So far the only actual experts I've seen comment here are SaltyDawg and Psneeld, and they both said it's too soon to know anything for sure and second guessing something you know nothing about is a pointless exercise.

Sure, human error could have played a role. Sure, structural failure could have played a role. Sure, losing power at the wrong time in the wrong place could have played a role. Sure, financial/schedule pressure could have played a role. Sure, it could have been a big-ass freak wave that slammed into the ship and rolled it over. Sure, it could have been hit by an asteroid.

The point is that as of now, nobody knows anything other than the ship was there and now it isn't. There are communications that talk about a shifting load and a list but don't say why. There are communications about losing power but don't say why. So far as I'm aware there are no communications saying this is what happened and it's why we're sinking.

We see this sort of thing all the time in aviation and it's exactly the same story. Immediately after an accident all sorts of people come crawling out of the woodwork offering "explanations" that range from the plausible to the ludicrous, the media hypes the event to the moon despite being dumber than posts on the subject, and people blather on and on about everything from the philosophy of risk management to what the crew should have done.

Meanwhile...... the people who actually know how things work are starting to do their investigation, which probably is generally easier in aviation than in shipping because most airplane accidents occur on land, and eventually the true cause is determined, usually long after the media has lost interest so the general public rarely learns what actually happened and why.

And most of the time, the actual chain of events is nothing like what the armchair crowd had speculated it was. In aviation--- and I suspect with ocean shipping, too, but I don't know because it's not my area of expertise--- the cause is almost always far more complex than the simplistic theories bandied about by the armchair experts.
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Old 10-21-2015, 06:57 PM   #154
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For many years I have followed cargolaw.com. It is astounding how many ships go down, roll over at the dock, run aground, evade pirates, collide etc. Add to that the tugs and barges plying the inland rivers and the count increases to several thousand opportunities per day for something to go wrong.

This has little to do with El Faro specifically but indirectly points out the myriad of issues that arise out of the ordinary and tragedies that ensue.
....
Actually, I wonder if it does apply to El Faro. I have been wondering about the fatality rate of sailors on US flagged vessels. I am struggling to remember when the last time a US flagged cargo ship sank. I did a quick search on the link but did not find any hits for 2013 or 2014. 2014 does not appear to be complete. Lots of accidents and losses in the lists,which was not surprising to me, but I could not find a US flagged sinking.

Can anyone else remember when a large or small US flagged cargo ship sank? Granted there are not many US flagged cargo ships but I just can't remember one sinking recently. Heck, the last US flagged ship that I can remember that sunk was the USN mine sweeper than ran up on a reef.

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Old 10-21-2015, 07:04 PM   #155
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Whether someone setting on the outside can understand the pressures or not is beside the point. You don't have to be on the ship in order to make a risk analysis. Someone (we do not know who) made the decision that sailing with a predicted hurricane in the area was an acceptable risk.

As far as the pressure on the captain to sail in the face of a hurricane or loose his job, I think the responsibility for a crew's safety far out weighs any job I would care to have.

Risk management is risk management. You don't have to be on a sinking ship to understand it.
Seriously?

Ever been in a complex situation and think anyone outside that immediate environment has all the details that you know?

Then...even those closely associated with the El Faro inside the shipping company only had a modest amount of the details that were up to date to the critical minute.

Anyone else...not even close.

That's why investigations take so long...if the simple answer is "risk management" based on what the average TFer knows about that particular situation...NTSB investigations should only take a day or two to come up with not necessarily all the answers...just the only ones that matter.... based on this post.
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Old 10-21-2015, 07:31 PM   #156
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I ask this question. If you were in Jacksonville and had a group of friends with a very large boat, about 33 people in total including crew) wanting to go to PR on September 29-30, and asking for your advice, what would it have been?

One thing I was told by a wise man long ago regarding employee safety was to think of every employee as a friend. I did and took risk of injury or harm very seriously.

Now, friends don't allow friends to go sailing off into hurricanes. Our philosophy is that it takes everyone saying yes to take a boat out. If captain or owner or crew or anyone feels it's unwise then it doesn't happen. One "no" outvotes all "yes's".
A ship command is the furthest thing from a democratic process imaginable. The AB or the chief mate DOESN't get a VOTE. On the surface , this seems harsh. The last thing that a maritime unit needs is second guessing at critical moments. This is where "employees" and signing the articles to go to sea differ greatly, right or wrong. Those cute plaques that say "Captains word is law" maybe a bit more than the deck fluff bargained for.......
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Old 10-21-2015, 08:14 PM   #157
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A ship command is the furthest thing from a democratic process imaginable. The AB or the chief mate DOESN't get a VOTE. On the surface , this seems harsh. The last thing that a maritime unit needs is second guessing at critical moments. This is where "employees" and signing the articles to go to sea differ greatly, right or wrong. Those cute plaques that say "Captains word is law" maybe a bit more than the deck fluff bargained for.......
Yep....

The difference between going to sea as a profession...and pleasure.

On the other hand recent times have brought forth crew coordination training...etc...to try to give the captain the best possible outcome from top performance of all hands....

Bottom line is... that if that Captain was sailing with a good crew, he was getting options...good and bad right up till the last possible seconds of life.

No one here or anywhere will ever know what they were.

The big chunks will be pieced together by the investigation...and they may give enough info to see if any glaring errors were made...but till then and even beyond...till someone has walked in the shoes of that crew...be really careful of armchair quarterbacking as a wild a**ed judgement reflects upon those who cast stones too early.
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Old 10-21-2015, 09:33 PM   #158
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...

Can anyone else remember when a large or small US flagged cargo ship sank? Granted there are not many US flagged cargo ships but I just can't remember one sinking recently. Heck, the last US flagged ship that I can remember that sunk was the USN mine sweeper than ran up on a reef.
...
HA! I answer my self! Edmund Fitzgerald is the only civilian ship I can remember. There has to be more. Unfortunately.

Later,
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Old 10-21-2015, 09:52 PM   #159
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A democratic process.... Yuck yuck yuck.

It just don't work that way. There's only one chief. The rest are just indians. (so to speak).

Regarding past incidents, Of course there are many. This is the only way the industry changes.

To recap:

The burning of the General Slocum (and later the Morro Castle) gave us the boiler inspection and enhanced fire fighting regulations.

The Titanic gave us water tight bulkheads and better understanding of watertight integrity. And don't forget lifesaving equipment!

The Normandie got us Firefighting and pre installed sprinklers.

The sinking of the 'Marine Electric' got us survival suits and covered lifeboats.

The Mauvilla Sunset Limited got us RADAR certification.

The Exxon Valdez got drug and alchohol testing.

The tug Scandia fire got uninspected towing vessels fire systems.

The (unrecalled name) tug that hit the bridge in Ohio, and the Barbierie NY ferry got us enhanced annual physicals, and a greater scrutiny of health issues.

The Bay Titan got us restricted in 'cross over' licenses in careers, from ships to tows and vice versa.

There are more that will come to mind as I recall them. But thats off the top of my head.

It usually takes massive loss of life for the USCG to react in ways that help the industry. On it's own industry takes the cheapest path to compliance. Only by jogging the sensibilities (and congressional pestering) will change happen. This incident will likely cause review of schedule, speed, and "Masters Ultimate Authority" being reinforced.

It is amazing how many times I have heard from the dispatcher: The weather looks good from here! I usually get hung up on when I ask the sea state at their desk. Or how hard IS the wind blowing in the office to get acquiescence on my weather status. Many MANY people are susceptible to the office manipulation. Even after accidents such as these previously mentioned ones. (think Titanic, and schedule, and routing INTO iceberg warning paths!) Some things never change.
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Old 10-21-2015, 09:55 PM   #160
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Yep....The difference between going to sea as a profession...and pleasure.
Thanks to you psneeld and the other 3 or 4 professional seamen for keeping this thing from going in the ditch. The investigation needs to run it's course and those gone need our respect not speculation.

Human error, what the hell is that?
Maybe an apprentice made a bad weld in 1973 before this thing was even launched...human error. Leave it alone.
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