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The case for universal compliance

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

The recent spate of fires on yachts is a harsh reminder about the importance of safety on board every single yacht. No matter what a yacht’s size, whether it’s considered as private or commercial, the most important priority should be – and thankfully usually is – the safety of those on board, followed by the safety of the yacht itself and the safety of the marine environment.

This comment is not to point any fingers at those unfortunately involved with the recent fires, per se. But these incidents – be it a fire on board, a man overboard while underway or, heaven forbid, a sinking such as we saw a number of years ago on M/Y Yogi – are a sharp reminder to us all of the importance of drills, crew training and safety compliance.

When it comes to accidents, it’s a matter of when, not if, they are going happen. Take the example of a pilot, who must run through their safety checklist every single time they get into the cockpit, because it’s sure to be that the one time they don’t check is the time they needed to.

As we see it, this should be the mentality of all captains and crew. And the only way to prepare for the worst when you have a large, complex machine and a team on board is through rigorous training and drills. It should be of no consequence whether the rules dictate it’s necessary or not.

You can’t expect that there will be someone else coming to the rescue on a superyacht, as you could be in a remote location or the emergency services may not be able to arrive before a fire has engulfed the yacht (people always remark that this happens sooner than they expected).

Nowadays, no matter whether you are privately or commercially run, there should be no difference between voluntary or mandatory compliance on a superyacht. There has been a transition in the safety and compliance culture of yachting, certainly; but if carried out properly, it should not ‘get in the way’ of the yachting experience, only provide reassurance for those on board.

Properly administered ISM compliance means that, in the event of an emergency, all crew know what to do, have practiced what it is that they are supposed to do, and can work as a coordinated team to save lives, property and the environment.

At Edge Yachts, our private vessels that voluntarily comply operate far above the minimum standards required by the ISM Code; I would trust to go anywhere with these captains and yachts. On the other hand, I have seen vessels that have been ‘fully commercially compliant’ ticking the bare minimum of boxes required, and I wouldn’t leave the dock with them.

This is not a sales pitch for overbearing yacht management and it’s not a sales pitch for unnecessary paperwork and protocols. But it is a hopefully rallying cry to all the yacht owners or captains out there who have avoided any kind of compliance, as well as those who have tried to scrape by with the bare minimum.

Because at the end of the day, for a relatively small time investment and financial cost, surely the safety of all those on board – from the deckhand and laundry stew to the owner and their family – is the most important thing for the yacht?

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