Proceedings Spring 2016
vessel industry. The incident need not even be domestic, as
was evidenced following the sinking of the Korean ferry
M/V Sewol in April 2014 with the loss of more than 300 pas-
sengers, mostly children.
The PVA staff received numerous
requests for comment regarding the incident, including the
question "Can it happen here?"
Casualty statistics analyses conclude that more than 80 per-
cent of all high-consequence marine casualties are directly or
indirectly attributable to "the human element."
of errors play a part in virtually every casualty — including
those where structural or equipment failure may be deemed
the apparent cause.
The National Transportation Safety Board has endorsed
adopting safety management systems as a means to enhance
transportation safety in the nation's domestic ferry systems.
Several ferry systems are currently operating with a safety
management system in place, and have already experienced
direct and indirect benefts as a result.
For example, a safety management system prompts vessel
operators to go beyond looking at accidents and incidents,
analyzing more broadly to also address nonconformities
found during routine maintenance and inspection. By
identifying issues and potential problems impacting ves-
sel operations, the vessel operator can make repairs or put
procedures in place to mitigate identifed risks.
The Regulatory Seascape
Currently, U.S. vessels engaged on foreign voyages and
subject to the International Convention for the Safety of
Life at Sea (SOLAS) must comply with the International
Safety Management (ISM) Code. For passenger vessels,
the ISM Code is currently only mandatory for those car-
rying more than 12 passengers on an international route.
In 1997, the Coast Guard established an equivalent to ISM
Photo courtesy of the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Photo courtesy of Fire Island Ferries.
Photo courtesy of Gateway Clipper Fleet.
Photo courtesy of Entertainment Cruises.
The unique, diverse nature of the domestic passenger vessel industry requires safety management systems that are equally unique,
scalable, and appropriate to diverse types of operations.