Saturday, June 19, 2021
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South Korean ferry sinking

The visibility in this area is practically zero and to keep only a young Third mate on watch on the Bridge, in such circumstances, is a crime.

Once we were coming down through the Sea of Japan and as we altered towards Mokpo port in South Korea, we found the visibility very poor as being described in this case. Our Captain reduced speed and put additional crew on look out and even asked me to be on Port side main deck to keep relaying him via walkie – talkie if the sound from fog horn of a vessel close by is increasing or reducing to judge the proximity of the vessel. He himself was on bridge and the time was around 1000Hr. After one hour when the sun shown on the horizon and visibility improved, we saw the ship very close to us. A very efficient look out prevented a possible collision. In such situations, if the currents are also strong, there is possibility of ship running aground with great force if the additional mistake is made by not reducing speed, again very criminal and wholly inexcusable.

In this case the vessel appears to have drifted into the shallow and grounded with a thud.
Our negligence and excessive reliance on the navigational aids solely is evident which is magnified many times by leaving a new third officer alone in-charge on bridge in zero visibility. The Master of the vessel is clearly liable for maximum punishment.

These days when I take classes, I give importance to cultivating some good habits which are vital for safe navigation, e.g. re-checking ( cross checking) things. Use of our own senses of sight, smell, hearing and touch is the best instead of remaining enclosed on the bridge and remain totally unmindful of the surroundings.

STCW courses have, besides doing some good, have brought in a lot of indiscipline and casualness because the candidates are assured that they will get a certificate in any case. Have you seen any one failing in these modular courses? That says it all.

Some years back we were in open sea and things running Okay so I told my Oiler ( Mr; Aspin , a phillipino) to take off after lunch . I thought that he will not be in Engine room so I went down at 1400Hr to see things but found him mopping the area where they worked before lunch. He told me that he will go off now because he had to clean the tools and put them in place and mop the area before leaving. That is good habit.

These days “look out” is suffering, increasing our vulnerability.
You don’t need additional lookout every day, it is for some time on certain days in certain adverse situations and if we even do not respond to such a call, we don’t deserve to be called a competent officer, which inter-alia , means a mindful officer, a careful officer and an officer possessing good habits associated with seamanship.

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