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Most quickly throw out even the thought of the question and say; you can’t. We all normally look to find those safety ticks, stamps and reviews that prove the product has been properly tested and recommended. When we go shopping for a car we are quickly told about the airbags, breaking systems and safety extra’s that have been thrown into to entice people to purchase the car. The issue that has me puzzled is when it comes to safety on board yachts. Any talk about safety equipment usually ends with, do we need it? Why do we need it? What different options are there? Which ones cheaper? Thinking to myself about the situation I don’t understand why any owner would choose to spend millions on a yacht then decide the safety equipment to fight fires, rescue people who have fallen overboard or the equipment that is going to save his life when the ship goes down ends in a discussion on which one is cheaper.
We have all seen what happens when ship owners are left to decide on the cost of safety. Without mentioning too many names one only has to remember the Titanic. This disaster gave birth to SOLAS safety of life at sea which over the years has saved millions of lives. However moving past cruise liners and container ships; superyachts which are no means the bear minimum but are in fact lavish toy where every consideration of the owner seems to be met to ensure his or her comfort. So how do these owners sleep knowing that even though they have a yachts which they own or rent have only take what is the basic requirement laid out by SOLAS? In fact most have fought hard to hide or make difficult the work the regulations where created to do. How do they feel knowing that they have only purchase the equipment that has only just passed the SOLAS requirement? What makes them think that their personal satisfaction is more important than their personal safety and the safety of everyone on board? Why is spending 15mins for familiarisation briefing beyond them? Why is running drills a waste of time?
I can’t count how many discussions I’ve had with owners about safety equipment on board and how owner and designers don’t like the colour or its position. I can’t count how many times they have asked me remove equipment and put it on only for flag state controls. I can’t count how many times I’ve had talks not only with the owner but also with the captains of today that feel that it is more important to keep the owner happy by making sure the boat is clean and shiny. The more that governments, flag and port states seem to push to raise the bar back to a standard the more owners want to push back. What I see more and more is yachts moving from charter to private so they avoid a huge chunk of headache as they see it running a yacht and avoid these requirements that have been created from these disasters. However if they really sat down and thought carefully on what has been created by IMO the international maritime authority; introduction of SOLAS, ISM and ISPS they should see SOLAS stands for Safety Of Life At Sea. Most importantly their own safety and the safety of their crew they have employed. ISM international Safety Management is a system of procedures created to ensure SOLAS as well as the running and safety of the yachts equipment which they have purchased. It also is a document history of how things are done specific to that yacht so that any trained seafarer may refer at any time to these document and build upon them to ensure the equipment and safety of the people on board always come first. ISPS; International Security of Ports and Ships has been introduced to ensure the on board security like security guards in any building or alarms system on any car or house.
Why does it seem though that moving to private is easier, why is it not important for crew to spend time training for emergencies? Why should they even think twice about a new piece of equipment that could possibly one day save someone’s life? Why would someone who spends millions on a yacht care if he spent £400 on a lifejacket instead of 50? He should however take a bigger interest to ensure that nothing has been spared to ensure that his yacht is ready to use, his crew are trained to tackle any situation and all on board are correctly armed with the latest and greatest safety equipment and technologies available to protect them and the ship for any situation they may find themselves in. In recent years the merging of commercial yachts and commercial shipping has been slowly coming together with LY3 Large Yacht Code in its third edition. Unfortunately I think something serous will have to happen for private yachts to catch back up to those standard laid out and a change in thinking from how much? It should be, do what even is the best to ensure myself and the safety of my investment.
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