Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
Issue link: http://uscgproceedings.epubxp.com/i/665311
7 Spring 2016 Proceedings www.uscg.mil/proceedings By establishing a repeatable and traceable maintenance sys- tem, crews can confrm tests are conducted properly and safely to ensure compliance and identify potential faws before they become failures. In the event crews do identify failures, the SMS lays out a process to rectify defciencies and ensure timely repairs. Vessel Crews The crew is the most important aspect of safety manage- ment system effectiveness, as crewmembers must be well trained and fully committed to implementation if the sys- tem is going to work. If a crewmember just pulls a binder off the shelf and checks off tasks using a "here are things I have to get done today" mentality, the SMS is destined for failure. Crewmembers must be concerned with improving vessel safety — not just making sure they survive the next audit without nonconformities. There are numerous examples of cases where the Coast Guard boarded a vessel and, according to a recent audit of the SMS, all systems were working as they were supposed to, but the material condition of the vessel said otherwise. Cases like these demonstrate a lack of commitment by at least one of the involved parties. Over the past several years, there have been more require- ments placed on vessel crews than ever before, and the SMS helps to identify what training and qualifcations are needed for specifc positions. The system even identifes individual crewmember roles and responsibilities, so everyone on the vessel is aware of what's expected of them. Emergency plans are also incorporated into the vessel's SMS to ensure that vessel crews are prepared to respond to potential scenarios in the event of an emergency and know their roles, should the need for action arise. Vessel Operations The goal of the safety management system is to ensure the vessel is operated in a way that takes the crew's as well as the environment's safety into account. Vessel owners can ensure the ship is operating in the safest, most efficient means possible by following the procedures for conducting vessel daily operations clearly laid out in the SMS. It is imperative that the vessel master ensures these pro- cedures are followed. When the ISM Code was frst imple- mented, there were many off-the-shelf safety management systems that did not accurately describe what was actually being done in practice. If the SMS isn't practical or doesn't refect current onboard operations for that specifc vessel, the master should work with the company to address the defciency and make corrections to the SMS as necessary. The safety management system is then a living document specifically made for the individual vessel the system supports. Additionally, the safety management system only works if the company and the vessel's master actively use it. If crews conduct operations outside of the SMS and not as per the approved plan, then the safety management system will fail, which could result in a marine casualty. Similarly, if shoreside personnel don't provide suffcient resources for the crew to perform needed maintenance, then safety will degrade. Further, process effectiveness must constantly be evalu- ated, as maintenance levels that worked well when the ship was 10 years old might barely be adequate when the ship turns 20. Constant evaluation and corrective action ensures that processes are effective for each specifc ship and its operations. Achieving regulatory compliance goals in a consistent, sustained manner is a hallmark of an effective SMS, as the goal of the safety management system is to be out ahead of problems rather than waiting and only providing correction when failures occur. The author, LCDR Demo (right), discusses vessel operations with the vessel master. U.S. Coast Guard photo by LCDR Lee Bacon.