THE investigation report into the capsizing of the cargo barge the San Pedro in August last year has raised serious concerns about apparent lack of adherence to the International Safety Management (ISM) Code by the owners.
The report states that the introduction of the ISM Code brought a fundamental change to the attitude of regulators in maritime administration.
“The importance of the master of a ship has been a major feature of shipping from the earliest days.
“Owners of the ship and the man on board have, until ISM, accepted that the success of shipping ventures would be influenced by the man appointed as captain of the ship, since the safety of the ship, its personnel and cargo depended primarily on the captain’s skill as a seaman and a navigator and on his experience and ability as an organiser and manager of men.
“The captain was, for the most part, out of contact with his shipowner, he therefore had considerable responsibility over the operations of his ship,” the report stated.
“Important changes have taken place in the traditional practices of ship operation in recent years.
“With the development of fast turnaround of ships, voice communication via sea phone links and satellite, fax and data interchange between ship and shore, the master can be in constant touch with his owner or ship manager and all parties in the managing office.
“For this reason, the owner/ship manager is now also responsible for safe management of the vessel they control.
“The master no longer takes sole responsibility for safety.”
The report states that the safety management system should ensure:
(a) Compliance with the mandatory rules and regulation;
(b) Observance of applicable codes, guidelines and recommended standards;
(c) Adequate safeguards established against all identified risks.
Senior ship’s officers must be fully conversant with the requirements of the ISM Code. The keys to the ISM Code are:
* The auditing process;
* Language of documented procedures;
* Duties of the designated person ashore (DPA);
* Simplicity and correction of the documented procedures;
* The reporting process;
* Onboard training; and
* Compliance with all regulations and maritime codes in force.
The report states that the main duty of the ship’s officer is to ensure there is an agreed document procedure in place and that the procedure is being followed for every shipboard operation.
“The ISM Code does not dictate the contents of the procedures that should be in place. That is a company or ship-by-ship decision. The code only states that procedures should be in place so that:
* All personnel clearly understand their duties;
* All key shipboard operations are understood;
* There is response to emergencies;
* Maintenance of equipment;
* Control of documents; and
* Reporting of accidents and hazardous occurrences.”
The report states that the evidence before the investigators shows that through lack of implementation of regulations in respect of manning, from questions of loading and stability, and from the statements of the crew, that the company’s attitude towards implementation of the ISM Code on this vessel was not fully committed.
It raised doubts about adherence to safety standards by the owners of the vessel.