Who's responsible for the Bounty sinking?
February 18, 2013 7:28 AM   Subscribe

As was noted on the blue a week ago, the ship that was a replica of HMS Bounty sank during Hurricane Sandy. This week a blogger named Mario Vittone, who reports on maritime affairs for the site gCaptain, has been attending the hearings and reporting on them. Despite years of professional experience, he is learning about the ship itself and the whole system of maritime safety approvals.

Here are the four daily posts on the hearings so far (of the scheduled eight):
Day one, Feb. 12, 2013
Day two, Feb. 14
Day three, Feb. 15
Day four, Feb. 16

(Subsequent days' accounts of the HMS Bounty Hearing articles will be added as they are posted.)

So far, the evidence presented is very disturbing. It includes accounts of neglected maintenance; the many approvals and documents required by the USCG and other agencies; the use of ordinary tubes of DAP caulk from Home Depot to repair rotted planks; and the consistent refrain of people saying they can't believe the ship headed out into the hurricane.

On one hand, the USCG has very specific standards for determining whether ships are seaworthy, according to their tonnage and purpose. Tied up at the pier, the ship can be a "moored attraction vessel" requiring a Certificate of Inspection (COI), though once she cast off, the Bounty could not carry paying passengers: "Bounty was in a sort of regulatory no-man’s-land. She was a recreational vessel, a well-crewed yacht, and it was none of big brother’s business how she was maintained."
Though often complained about, most large ships at sea are burdened by myriad requirements for inspections and records of inspections, classification documents, SOLAS certificates, and training and maintenance logs. There are safety management systems and security certificates and a dozen other documents they have to carry at all times, and getting those documents is no small (or cheap) feat. When repairs on a ship are made, governmental oversight in the form of Coast Guard or class society inspectors will then make their own records that note every action taken by crew and shipyard.
Yet many of the people working on and around Bounty were not experts with any sort of certification. “My only job before Bounty was as a landscaper,” said the third mate, and the bosun he taught was looking at "the first wood hull she had ever seen in dry dock." And one expert witness, Joe Jakomovicz – the now-retired yard manager at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard -- knew the Bounty well but also had no formal documentation of his expertise:
Carroll: ”Can you give us a few details on professional background; your certifications?”

Jakomovicz: ”I don’t have any certifications.”

Carroll: “Did you attend any schools?”

Jakomovicz: “No – well I have a degree from forty years ago, but it’s got nothing to do with boats.”
It seems that the Bounty's master is to blame for her loss for going to sea at a bad time after neglecting repairs, but should the system be tightened up as well? And if the system needs improvement, can obsolete skills and a lifetime's experience by certified?
posted by wenestvedt (1 comment total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Previous thread is still open, maybe add this stuff there? -- cortex

Could/should this go as substantive comments in the thread from a week ago? Maybe just me, but thread splitting is sometimes a bit of a headache.
posted by Wordshore at 7:34 AM on February 18, 2013

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