Proceedings Of The Marine

SPR 2016

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.

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52 Proceedings Spring 2016 The benefits of shipboard safety management systems (SMSs) are myriad — a crew's conduct and adherence to vessel operation procedures at sea can mean the differ- ence between a safe, proftable voyage and one resulting in disaster. While safety management systems are generally required for large oceangoing vessels involved in foreign trade, smaller vessels and domestic companies have imple- mented them to identify — in one location — the important company policies, practices, and procedures a ship's crew is expected to follow to ensure a safely functioning vessel. Safety management systems help ensure that ship person- nel comply with mandatory safety rules and regulations and also follow codes, guidelines, and classifcation society requirements as well as concerned maritime organization parameters. In short, the SMS establishes a standard of con- duct, encapsulates shipboard policies, and defnes the rules governing safe ship operation. In the Coast Guard world of mariner license suspension and revocation (S&R), the SMS can provide a standard upon which the conduct of a mariner is judged — the backbone upon which the body of an investigation may be formed and ultimately enforced. License Enforcement Backdrop Before we delve into how safety management systems ft within the construct of a potential S&R action, a bit of background. The privilege of sailing on American ves- sels is contingent upon possessing a merchant mariner credential (MMC or "credential"). Congress charged the Coast Guard with vetting prospective mariners and issuing MMCs to qualified individuals. 1 These documents serve as occupational licenses — a mari- ner's "ticket" to a career at sea. Along with requiring mariners to hold a credential to serve aboard vessels in specifc capacities, Congress also charged the Coast Guard with disciplining the same mariners by way of suspending or even revoking credentials through sus- pension and revocation actions on the credential itself. The necessity for federal oversight was born out of a string of maritime tragedies. For example, in 1832, about 14 percent of steam vessels in operation had been Suspension and Revocation for Safety Management System Violations Maintaining standards for competence and conduct essential to safety at sea. by CDR ChRisToPheR F. CouTu Chief Suspension and Revocation National Center of Expertise U.S. Coast Guard Investigations and Safety Management Systems LTJG Stephanie Kurucar of Coast Guard Sector New Orleans reviews crew creden- tials and licenses. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Offcer Casey J. Ranel.

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