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?..And the Moral of the Story is?..

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  • ?..And the Moral of the Story is?..

    I believe that we can all learn from other people?s experiences, and no more so than Cadets embarking on a career that is different to anything else they have experienced. So here is your chance to learn a little bit that may help keep you out of trouble in the future. Call it an advance on your experience!

    The Rules:

    1) The story has to be true.

    2) No names, to protect the innocent and not so innocent, unless it was you, or you have the participants permission.

    3) The story has to end with ?And the Moral of the Story is ?.. and the real moral?

    If this is successful and we decide later, I may split the comments out into another thread to keep this one just full of the stories.

    "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester.
    "Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear." - Buzzy Trent

    "Careers at Sea" Ambassador - Experience of General Cargo, Combo ships, Tanker, Product Carrier, Gas Carrier, Ro-Ro, Reefer Container, Anchor Handlers.

  • #2
    So here we go – I will open this thread with a story from a recent voyage by an unnamed cadet whose real name is not Roger!

    Roger was a Deck Cadet on the 12-4 watch on a ship where the Captain insisted on Sunday Morning inspections every week. One Sunday Roger forgot to set his alarm, even though he has the afternoon off for studying, only to be woken by the Old Man walking in at 10am and asking what the hell he thought he was doing being in bed and the Captain has a bit of a roar…

    Roger gets up immediately, cleans his cabin and walks into the Saloon for lunch knowing he is due a bollocking. The Captain calls him over and sure enough hands him a slight bollocking - but then presents him with a very large wooden spoon from the galley with a label all down the length with the words “Wanker of the Week award presented to Cadet Roger, MV Rusty Bucket, Week 26, Voyage 1212” with instructions that he has to carry it around for the next week and even sleep with it by his side as a punishment. For a week Roger carries it on deck watch in port, on the bridge, to every meal and even stands it next to his bed. He takes all the ribbing that goes with it in good humour and never forgets to set his alarm again to clean his cabin on a Sunday morning. The following Sunday he hands it back to the Captain with a flourish in the Saloon and the Captain announces that the new recipient is an engineer cadet whose name is not Donald!

    Donald at that point storms out the saloon and the Captain tells the remaining cadets to talk to Donald and get him to come back and take it like a man. Three cadets go to talk to Donald, but he refuses to come out of his cabin and tells them all where to shove it. They return to the Saloon and the Captain then tells them to get him to come to his office where he delivers a verbal rocket to Donald. Donald then makes his second mistake by getting into a shouting match with the Captain…. What follows is not pleasant…

    Later on, on the bridge, the Captain turns to Roger and tells him he admires him for the way he took what was a fun way of delivering a light arse kicking and being so grown up about joining in with the fun of it…. Roger leaves the ship with a very good report from the Old Man.

    And the moral of the story is…..

    You will make mistakes, you will get found out and sometime a Senior Officer will use humour in order to make a point rather than an official approach. They do not do it to humiliate you, but to make you not forget the lesson and not make the mistake again, but in a light hearted way. Sometimes you may feel like you are being blamed for something that is not your fault, that does not matter if it is not a formal matter, but in the overall picture it is a really bad idea to argue with someone so senior – they can make your life miserable or even affect your career because you get a bad report.

    You sometimes have to learn to open one ear – open the other ear, and let it go straight through and stop to think “Is this just a bit of fun?” or even “Is this really worth arguing about?” ….
    "Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk." - Sir Francis Chichester.
    "Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear." - Buzzy Trent

    "Careers at Sea" Ambassador - Experience of General Cargo, Combo ships, Tanker, Product Carrier, Gas Carrier, Ro-Ro, Reefer Container, Anchor Handlers.


    • #3
      Right, my turn.

      I was sailing on an old RO/RO vessel when I was a cadet and one of my routine tasks during a watch was to drain the bilges (exciting life eh?). Anywho, this type of pump that we had fitted was not only a bilge pump, but a sludge pump as well and it had pipework that led to all the holding tanks and to the deck so that sludge could be pumped ashore. On the pipework from the pump to the tanks there was a T-Split, so one pipe went to the deck, one pipe down to the tanks, each with their own isolating valve. Before the valve to the tanks, there was a small little side valve that could be opened so that you could see if water was passing from the bilges to the tanks. Anywho, I set up to drain one of the bilge wells, opened up the valves leading from the bilge well to the tank with the exception of the isolating valve after the pump. When I switched the pump on and opened the side valve, the pressure instantly shot up and water started spraying everywhere. That pump was on for maybe 10 seconds, at most, yet it managed to cover a rather large area and turn it all (and me) a rather nice shade of black.

      Because I'd got some of the bilge water on my mouth, I quickly nipped back up to the ECR to get some water to wash the taste of it out of my mouth. Normally, the C/E on this ship came down at 0800 and then went off to do other things and came down at 1200. On this particular day, he was busy doing something in the ECR so saw me wander in, covered in black bilge water. Now, this particular C/E, whilst nice enough to me, was a bit of a cantankerous old git and one that would routinely sit there and complain about this and that (usually in Romanian, the complaining a standard for all on board a ship) and I fully expected to have my arse truly kicked. He saw me, he asked me what happened and I told him "errr, small accident with the bilge pump chief" and then the git threw his head back and laughed his arse off! He was laughing so hard he nearly fell off the stool he was sitting on! After quickly getting some water down my neck, he then sent me back into the ER with a "you go clean and come to my office later" (I was heading that way anyways). In total, it took me nearly 5 hours to clean up the mess that took only 10 seconds to make. I went to his office later on, had a beer and that's where I learnt another very important thing.

      And the moral of the story is....

      Complacency can kill. Granted my own small accident didn't really do much but just get a whole area dirty, but the root cause was sheer complacency on my part. That isolating valve is usually left open. It shouldn't have been, and I shouldn't have fallen into the habit of leaving it like that and I should have checked all of the valves before I switched the pump on, not just the ones I knew would be closed. Now, what if I hadn't have been working with the bilge pump, what if I had been doing something within the main engine? What if myself and someone else had been working on a piece of machinery that I hadn't fully isolated because I was complacent and just assumed things were fine, and it started up and potentially killed or injured someone? Some might think this is a wee bit dramatic, but it has happened in the past and the consequences of just a small mistake like that can be life changing.

      Remember: -

      1) Complacency can kill, never assume, always check,
      2) If you're about to do a job that requires a PTW, and one isn't done, then speak up! No one will fault you for being safe (a DPA has recently been hit with a massive fine and criminal record in the UK for knowingly allowing an enclosed space entry to occur without the appropriate safety measures and PTW being in place)
      3) You are your own safety officer, remember that
      4) If you are ever in doubt about anything, ask!
      I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.....

      All posts here represent my own opinion and not that of my employer.


      • #4
        Ok, I thought I would resurrect this thread to add my two pennies worth: -

        Story one: -

        On my second trip as a qualified officer I was sailing on an old cable vessel in the Northern Atlantic as third officer. We were sent to go do a 25 year dry dock in Florida. One of the main jobs that was to be done was for the forepeak tank to be shot blasted and painted. This was part of the DD Spec and would be done by the yard. To achieve this the yard cut four cut outs of the shell plating and set to work once the vessel was on the blocks. Unfortunately we had a very poor Chief Officer, the Master was signed off the vessel and the Second Mate was not exactly top drawer either which left me, on my second trip, running the DD from the deck side of things. Luckily we had an exceptional C/E and 2/E who were extremely helpful.

        The C/O, lets call him Adam, had a thing about ballasting (he had a wonderful nickname to do with this, but as this a) came as a result two incidents, one of which I recount here, and b) would identify him immediately to any one sailing within the company, I can not possibly divulge it here). One day, after I spent the morning running around the vessel and in the dock with the 2/E I was called on the radio by the Adam down in to the forward hold where he explained to me that he wanted to empty the flume tanks into the dock bottom as we need to access them, and he needed my help for this. Now the flume tanks on that particular vessel could either be drained to sea (or in this case into the dock bottom) or could be drained into the forepeak. I asked Adam to ensure that he had lined all the valves into the correct alignment to drain, and he replied he had. At that point I thought it best to check the dock bottom to ensure no one was there to get an impromptu ballast water shower, so I took an A/B and went back to the dock bottom, ensured the area was clear and posted the AB there to ensure it was kept clear.

        I then returned to the forehold to find Adam had disappeared off some where. I called him up and he informed me he was on deck and he asked me to open the valve (it was local operation only from the forehold). At that point I opened up the valve and stood by to close it if need be. Suddenly I got a call on the radio from the A/B I had left on the dock bottom informing me that I needed to stop the operation. I quickly closed the valve and then proceeded on to deck to find out what had gone wrong (I assumed some one had got the aforementioned shower).

        However it turned out what had happened was far worse, and I am sure the more aware reader will have already worked out what had happened. When I had opened the valve the A/B on the dock bottom had seen nothing happen for a few moments, and then suddenly he saw four or five dock workers throw themselves out of the cut outs of the shell plating through to the forepeak, followed by paint cans, tools and a considerable amount of the aforementioned ballast water from the flume tanks. Luckily there was a scaffold platform outside of the cut out onto which the workers safely landed, and the A/B had the presence of mind not only to work out that the water was the water from the flume tanks, but also to call me up and request an immediate stop.

        Upon further investigation it was found that the overboard/forepeak t-valve from the flume tanks was not set to overboard but was in fact set to the forepeak. Unfortunately Adam decided to blame me for this mistake as I was the person who operated the valve and wanted me to be discharged from the vessel with immediate effect, in addition he refused to state the fact that I had asked him if he had lined up the valves correctly and stated that he had only told me to do the job and nothing more. Luckily the C/E (who was also in charge of the vessel at the time) saw through this and I got away with slapped wrists and told not to do it again (and also told to take it on the chin, as Adam wanted a lot more).

        Moral of the story is.......

        1) It does not matter what your part in the job is (senior or junior), you have the right to stop it and check/ask for checks to ensure everything is in place
        2) A good senior officer will never mind if you question a job, it shows you care, not that you question them. If they are a bad senior officer then check any way!
        3) Always ensure that those working under you (the A/B in the above) are happy to question you and call a stop. If you loose this relationship then you are standing in to danger
        4) Never let yourself or others be rushed into a job. Take time, familiarise yourself with what is going on, and ask for a TBT if you need one
        5) And one which should always be remembered: - Dry docks are dangerous places, actions which might not have an impact in normal situations can have a serious impact.

        Story two: -

        Another job that was planned on the dry dock spec for the ship above was for the echo sounder transducer to be removed from it's mounting through the hull, checked and cleaned/replaced if required.

        Unfortunately whilst in dry dock a number of these jobs got cancelled due to cost, and one of these jobs was on the echo sounder transducer which had not been removed from it's mountings. Prior to re-floating a number of us did the usual dry dock snake around the dock to ensure things such as the hull plugs and other detachable items were in place. The vessel was re-floated and we departed the dry dock. The carpenter, who had been assigned to checking the tank levels called over the radio to say that water was flooding in to the fore hold. At the time I was on the forecastle coiling the ropes down with the crew so I immediately reported to the forehold, meeting up with the 2/E on the way down. When we got there we found the carpenter next to the void space sounding pipe which, despite being capped, was leaking water. We immediately reported this to the bridge. We checked the rest of the tanks to ensure that none were taking on water and we then tried to work out where the water was coming from.

        In the mean time the SSUP arranged for the vessel to re-dock, which was done very quickly, and drained down, with a lot of anxious people in the forehold. Once we were dry we opened the void space tank lid to immediately see day light flooding through the echo sounder transducer hole. The transducer was nice and neatly deposited on the plating next to it, with several nuts/bolts lying beside it. Upon subsequent investigation it was found that the dockers had come down to the transducer on the first day in dock. They had taken all the nuts/bolts off, but had found that they could not get it out (possibly marine growth, paint, corrosion had caused it to stick). They had then gone off shift with the idea that they would try to remedy the situation the next day, however upon starting the work the next day they found they had been assigned to a different task and no one had gone down to the void to put the puts back on.

        When doing the walk around at the end of the dock we had been checking such items and the Second Officer, lets call him Harry, had actually checked this from the outside, but he had not been able to move it either, and had therefore assumed that it was still bolted in correctly. The void space had been shut by this time, and so unfortunately no one checked. However when the vessel had floated the pressure of the water outside the hull had done what Harry or the dockers had been unable to do, which was lift the transducer out the hole and deposit on the plating next to it. Obviously the void, which was below the water line, had immediately filled up, and the sounding pipe like wise.

        And the moral of the story is......

        1) Always check plugs and other things at the end of the dry dock from both sides, if they don't move, never assume they are secure
        2) If a job is cancelled in dry dock, even towards the start, ensure it has been made good before sailing

        I think that covers about that. Sorry for the long post, but certainly two very good lessons for me on my first dry dock. Hope others can learn from them!
        Water, water, every where,
        And all the boards did shrink;
        Water, water, every where,
        Nor any drop to drink.

        The Rime of the Ancient Mariner - S.T. Coleridge