This handbook is designed to offer guidance to seafarers and managers
who are responsible for some of the world's most valuable ships and
cargoes. Such ships and their cargoes are capable of causing fires,
explosions, catastrophic environmental damage and loss of life and personal
injury. As a result, the handbook is written under the International
Maritime Organization's guiding principle: Towards safer ships and
cleaner seas. As the handbook is commissioned by one of the world's
leading P&I Clubs, it is not surprising that this IMO principle
is also close to the heart of those responsible for liability insurance.
The handbook's content is also based on the principle that shipboard
productivity and safety are clear measures of management competence
and responsibility. Although some may think that this approach represents
a departure from more traditional views about ship operation and management,
it is clear today that the viability of the modern tankship industry
depends on innovation and management approaches which can adapt and
prevail under considerable economic, social, regulatory and political
pressures. At the same time, the rapid pace of technological change
and the overall expansion of many levels of regulatory oversight place
additional demands on ship owners and seafarers.
Traditionally the management and operational responsibilities in the
shipping industry were viewed as quite separate domains. Management
was mainly concerned with administering the vessel in an acceptable
commercial manner so that it operated profitably. This was generally
carried out through policies and procedures which included little or
no input from those who actually operated the vessel, and through day-to-day
administrative decisions that rarely considered their impacts on crew
morale and motivation. On the other hand, the crew's main concern was
with safe navigation and a reasonable amount of cargo care. Technical
competence in navigation, mechanical maintenance and cargo handling
were the primary requirements, and few thought that the crew was ever
capable of making recommendations which could actually improve the economic
side of ship operations.
One of the principal purposes for this handbook is to promote the recognition
of the fact that shore-based and shipboard management concerns have
shifted from the traditional narrower focus on technical competence
to a much more all-encompassing view. Although a number of owners are
fully aware of this, many are not. Tankship operations should be ventures
where leadership and team management ability provide the supportive
framework within which technical expertise can effectively function.
It is no longer sufficient to simply identify and hire seafarers with
the proper technical certificates and qualifications and then assign
them to ships. Seafarers must now and in the future be seen as individuals
capable of continuous training and development to become an essential
resource of a safe and efficiently operated vessel.
In other words, this handbook addresses the human side of ship operations.
It is not a manual which prescribes rules and regulations, but an attempt
to increase safety and environmental consciousness from boardroom to
pumproom. This is not an academic or altruistic aim but something which
is entirely practical and which has been very neglected. There has been
a wide consensus in the shipping industry for some time that the great
majority of maritime accidents are due to human error, yet this issue
has only been peripherally addressed. At the IMO level the 1978 STCW
Convention was an important first step, but a new look at this, now
out-dated convention has only just commenced. As a result, this handbook
suggests that this issue can and should be addressed directly by the
management and operational sectors of the shipping industry. Modern
satellite technology has dissolved the traditional barriers of time
and distance between shore-based management and shipboard operations.
This increased communications efficiency provides new opportunities
for the information flow between ship and shore and vice versa.
There is, obviously, a very practical need for new management approaches.
Maritime casualty statistics continue to be a cause for concern with
losses in all sectors remaining at unacceptably high levels. In general,
an aging world fleet, especially in the tankship sector, due to continuing
low freight rates, exacerbates this problem. That is not to say that
an older vessel is necessarily an unsafe one. A well-maintained older
vessel is often a lesser safety risk than a badly-maintained modern
one. In addition, the high rates of serious and/or fatal accidents amongst
seafarers appear to indicate that even increased safety measures are
inadequate. For example, the mortality rate for seafarers serving on
UK-registered ships is 290 deaths per 100,000, or ten times as high
as in the manufacturing sector, nine times higher than in the construction
trades, and four times higher than in coal mining.(1) This leads to
the general conclusion that shipping lacks an industry-wide safety philosophy.
Furthermore, the fact that there are discernible differences in accident
rates between ship registries, management nationalities, and types of
ownership indicates that management and administrative philosophies
have an influence on safety. Accidents do not just happen. They are
usually a result of an incident igniting the residue of neglect. As
has been stated:
Casualty is a symptom of malfunction of the organizing system which
is responsible for the coordination of all activities contributing to
safety. A good organizing system is based on good leadership, where
the leader is motivating and stimulating people to act and think to
In fact, the prevention of casualties is the only viable solution to
the many problems faced by modern tankship management and operations.
When even carefully planned oil spill tests cannot recover more than
15 per cent of an open-ocean spill, it is obvious that providing insurance
for clean-ups is far from effective. On the other hand, the best procedures,
implemented by well-trained personnel, operating adequately maintained
ships and equipment, are far more effective. In other words, prevention
is the most cost-effective alternative and also happens to be the only
one that really works! In fact, if prevention would really receive the
priority it deserves,then oil spill clean-up equipment would rust on
the beaches and P&I Club premiums would be significantly lower!
This handbook is devoted to prevention through safe and efficient ship
operations. It is not a manual on what to do and how to do it. Neither
is it written to replace the many excellent manuals published by shipping
companies, oil companies, loading and discharge terminals, governments
and international organizations. Such publications will continue to
be required reading and will also assist in achieving safer ships and
cleaner seas. This handbook is designed to motivate and inspire the
professionalism of seafarers and to complement this with the overriding
commercial know how of the ship-owner and manager in order to support
continuing crew development. In fact, the authors would be delighted
if readers would discover that the handbook has only collected and described
information and operations they already know and do!
The handbook is also designed to restate basics and the patently obvious.
For example, no one is better equipped to take note and give warnings
of unsafe conditions on a ship than its crew. This is the principal
reason why management must ensure that a communications flow exists
from the vessel to the office and that someone at the upper management
level has direct responsibility for listening to and, if appropriate,
acting on recommendations received. In certain cases a direct communications
link, bypassing all technical and operating levels, from the vessel
to the company's quality assurance manager, (who should have access
to the highest levels of management), may be appropriate.
Each department in the ship should be requested to prepare an inventory
of risk areas and activities involved in their operations. Once an initial
risk inventory has been completed, the first priority for corrective
action should be directed towards high risk areas. Obviously, the most
astute senior officers will prepare such an inventory in a way that
clearly exposes both the strengths and weaknesses of existing company
policies. An important by-product of this exercise is that involved
crew members would be forced to think about dealing with possible emergencies.
This would inevitably lead to crew members who are professionally qualified,
well trained and competent to make good decisions under emergency conditions.
Therefore, the general purpose of this handbook is to promote the concept
that tankship safety relies on much more than even the best technical
competence. It requires an industry-wide safety philosophy implemented
through sound and responsible management and human resources practices
operating in a teamwork environment. In a recent analysis of a serious
marine disaster it was stated:
Nevertheless, the ultimate responsibility for safety relies on shipboard
management and practice. Once the ship leaves the dock, vessel, cargo,
crew and owners rely heavily on the skills and judgements of the master
and senior officers. They are in the front line, whilst the role of
management should be that of vigilant defender, ever watchful and supportive.
If the two groups work together they form a winning team!(3)
Accordingly, this handbook is designed also to offer guidance in practical
leadership, teamwork and operational matters for modern tankship management.
It should be an accessible tool to assist officers in finding information
as the need arises. Hopefully, it will also be utilized by managers
who feel the need to upgrade their motivating and other skills.
It may be remembered that the famous film detective, Charlie Chan, once
said: "Mind is like parachute; only useful when opened!" The
same is true of a handbook such as this. Unless it is opened, read,
absorbed and implemented by tankship management and crews it will contribute
nothing to safer ships and cleaner seas. Although it cannot and should
not replace the many important manuals, already mentioned above, the
handbook does lend itself to basic training courses on board tankers.
Officers and other motivated crew members should be encouraged to read
the book and if a copy is inadvertently carried off as part of some
officer's personal library so much the better! Master and chief engineers
could use sections of the handbook to test junior officers' knowledge
and preparedness by simply asking: "what would you do if ... ?"
This type of semi-formal enquiry might reveal important gaps in knowledge
which could lead to very serious consequences in a real situation. Perhaps
it may even be possible for some companies to use the handbook as part
of their training programmes or create correspondence courses. Whatever
the method of use, this type of handbook must become part of an established,
onboard training programme. Only through this direct attention to the
human factor will safer ships and cleaner seas become a reality.
This handbook is not a general text on all aspects of tankship operations
and there are many aspects which are not addressed or covered only peripherally.
For example, subjects such as: oil pollution clean-up procedures; tanker
chartering issues; towage and salvage; legal and commercial aspects;
customs; insurance issues; maritime liens; crew contracts; stowaways
and refugees; helicopter evacuation; grounding, collisions and other
casualties; fire and explosion; abandon ship procedures; piracy; consequences
of contamination of cargo; and a number of other important subjects,
are not addressed. They are important. They are covered in other texts,
handbooks and manuals, and they should also be studied as part of modern
tankship operations. However, as already indicated, this handbook concentrates
more on the basics of human behaviour and ship operations and how they
affect maritime safety and environmental protection. This is done by
simply following a tanker voyage. The first chapter addresses the basic
requirements of serving as an officer on a tanker. For many readers
this chapter probably states the obvious, but anyone who knows about
maritime accidents also knows how often the obvious is ignored. Chapter
two describes the tanker's ballast voyage — a time when the vessel is
being cleaned, prepared for loading and also a time when accidents can
occur. Chapter three describes proceedings in the loading port and Chapter
four the loaded voyage. Finally, chapter five provides basic guidelines
for procedures in the discharge port.
The idea for this type of handbook came from Captain Sigurd Thomassen,
a former tanker master and now long-time claims handler in Card's tanker
department. Captain Thomassen had felt the need for changes in the human
approach to tanker operations for some years. As a result he had collected
a considerable amount of data on this and related issues. This data
was eventually acquired by Card in order to turn idea and data into
a publication. This work was coordinated by Dr Edgar Gold, author of
Card's Handbook on marine pollution who has been associated
with Card for over two decades. Dr Gold, in turn, asked two very experienced
mariners and tanker specialists to assist. As a result the principal
author of the work is Captain John R Dudley, who has considerable, highest-level
tanker, academic and management experience. He has been assisted by
Captain Barry J Scott, also With a lifetime of tanker experience and
today one of the leading tanker safety consultants. Although the authors
have woven much of Captain Thomassen's material into the fabric of this
book, the work of authors such as King(4), Marton(5) and others, who
at regular intervals, have produced valuable guides for tanker operations,
which are still valid for ships of their vintage, have also been consulted.
In other words, the handbook has been compiled by three master mariners,
all with considerable tanker experience, but also with legal, management,
academic, and technical skills.
Although the work has been commissioned by Card, and is presented in
the best of good faith with the hope that it will lead to better operating
procedures, fewer accidents and fewer claims, neither Card nor the authors
can be held liable for errors and omissions. As has been stated already,
official manuals and regulations must at all times prevail. Although
every effort has been made to produce a readable, usable and accurate
book, suggestions for improvements are not only welcome but essential
and should be directed to Card in Arendal, Norway. Suggestions, contributions,
case histories etc. from masters, officers and crew members in active
tanker service are actively solicited for future editions of the handbook.
It is hoped that the handbook will be reviewed and revised at reasonable,
(1) Quinn, PT, Management of Human Relations on Board Ships: A Community
Perspective, Seaways (February, 1982), pp.11-14
(2) Drager, KH, Collisions and Groundings - Analysis of Cause Relationships.
Papers of the Safety of Life at Sea Symposium, (Oslo, 20-21 October 1980)
(3) Crainer, S, Zeebrugge - Learning from Disaster. Lessons in Corporate
Responsibility. London: Herald Charitable Trust, 1993, p.6
(4) King, (SAB, Tanker Practice. 5th ed. London: The Maritime Press Ltd., 1968
(5) Marton, GS, Tanker Operations. 2nd ed. Centrcville, Md.: Cornell Maritime