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Parents of cadets and just how safe it it out there?

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  • Parents of cadets and just how safe it it out there?

    As a parent of a cadet, with no seagoing experience I thought I would put a different perspective as I am sure there has been and will be other parents out there just like me.
    We have been through the ‘I’ve decided I want to go to sea’ thing which meant a bit of searching to find out what this career entailed, what options there were out there and which to choose. Picking the best A levels to suit but also those which would give the best results in case it didn’t work out was also a factor in the great plan.

    We have done the open days, read through all the training companies, and company information, looked at the applications before they were made, and offered our thoughts.
    We have waited anxiously to find out how interviews have gone, offered advice when it didn’t go quite as planned and how to make sure it did the next time etc.
    Then when we got the excited call to say yes someone wants me (huge relief) and then another which then required a ‘well which do I choose’ happened, all you can do from then on is let them decide and go for it.

    Off to college they go, jabbed, forms filled in, uniform received etc etc. Updates on college life and lecturers they good ones, the funny ones, the scary but ok really ones. Then before you know it back home and waiting for the email as to which ship and when wait happens, in our case very quickly.
    So as a parent we have looked at this forum gathered very helpful information – thank you! Used it to raise a few thoughts i.e. how are you going to manage your money? Have you thought about what it will be like being out of contact for long periods, etc, etc.
    What they are not prepared for and which sadly on this forum there has been posts about is that first ship when things are not going well. From what I have read there is a large drop out rate and that the industry isn’t happy about it, well as it costs so much money time and effort to get them there I’m not surprised, companies are profit driven and it seems that the shipping industry is big on it. Especialy in this economic climate.

    So why don’t they take a few simple steps to raise that level of failure? As I see it cadets are excited about their first ship it’s something they have been working towards for many for a few years.
    Some will have built up pictures and imagined what it will be like, they will have had stories from other cadets, lecturers but it is never the same as experiencing it yourself.
    They have a briefing about the TRB what they need to do at sea, maybe able to speak to another cadet that’s been on the same ship, however crews change and what it may have been like for one on a trip doesn’t mean it will be on this trip.

    For those that have a great trip, fantastic glad you did, however the rest of this is maybe not for you.

    So it then raises questions for me, how safe is it out there, how happy are they, does anyone actually care, does anyone ask them other than us of course the parents, having invested a lot of time and emotion and nurturing as most parents do , we care, we worry and we hope. We love them we want the best for them and we want them to be happy.

    How prepared are cadets really for a trip? What do they do when they get on board and the reality sets in and they can find themselves amongst unfriendly crew, in an environment they don’t know, with questionable food, a dirty cabin, the odd coackroach in the galley, maybe on their own with no other English speaking cadet on board? They discover there are no briefings given, they don’t get taught how to do things but have to find out for themselves?
    As time goes on and they adjust and discover that actually the crew aren’t that bad it is a case of zoning into the different cultures and understanding them, the food is ‘different’ but survivable.

    Yes, compared to other cadets they are ‘doing’ things though nothing like it was explained at college, equipment they have learnt to use isn’t on this ship and i.e H&S well you tick lots of boxes and should not be concerned that the gauge your trying to find isn’t anywhere and no one knows where it is but the box is ticked anyway. As are numerous other forms as paperwork is very important, but surprisingly contrary to what was learnt at college you don’t worry about the actual things themselves just the boxes… safety equipment like lifeboats, breathing apparatus, tick the boxes do the things work? Well they might let us hope no one needs to use them.

    Is this why accidents happen at sea? Is this really the right way cadets should be learning? Who asks the questions? Can training companies and sponsors be really surprised some just give up?

    From what I have learnt so far they do not contact their cadets and ask how they are, they don’t ask are you having any problems, is it safe on that ship, do you have any concerns? I think that is a failure if that is not done on a frequent basis. If they did then perhaps cadets would feel supported and listened to, especially so, those on ships by themselves with an all foreign crew. Then maybe they would feel ‘safe’ enough and listened to that they can explain the reality, and get given some advice on how to tackle a problem if they have them. Rather than feel unsupported and wondering just what made them want to do this anyway.
    I am under the impression rightly or wrongly that cadets contact companies at the point where they can stand it no longer and ask to be taken off. What a waste!

    Yes, I am sure that some companies and probably those that take cadets on in the view that they will select the best and keep them when trained invest more time and want feedback.

    How could it be changed so that the shipping industry changes from a tick box culture ( I appreciate not all will be like this) to an industry where all crew are valued, from the most junior to the most senior?
    Quite simply I think it’s the current officers , the sponsoring companies and training providers to invest more time in these first phase cadets to invest a bit of time in these early days of these (most often young) people’s careers to ask a few questions.
    If cadets have a good experience they are more likely to gain confidence and be better than if they are left feeling isolated and don’t put in the effort they could do. There will always be a few who decide it’s not for them regardless of how good their experience was.

    The cadets of today will be the officers in the future and if they learn the right way to treat people, the right and safe way to work through their own experience, surely that’s got to be a good thing.
    Learning or not being taught how to do things properly as I see it, leads to more work to get rid of bad habits and working practices and causes frustration that they have to be taught how to do something properly. How many lost lives could be prevented? Should they have to tough it out, man up that much and put up with it? Or should they do something about it, and just who is asking?

    I find it very sad that cadets are having to use this forum to ask for help or to raise how unhappy they are, it should never have to happen.
    If there are recruitment staff reading this perhaps it’s something that could be looked at, maybe drop an email to your cadets and ask them how they are, that would at least be a start.
    I would really value some feedback !

  • #2
    Originally posted by Unregistered View Post

    I find it very sad that cadets are having to use this forum to ask for help or to raise how unhappy they are, it should never have to happen.
    If there are recruitment staff reading this perhaps it’s something that could be looked at, maybe drop an email to your cadets and ask them how they are, that would at least be a start.
    I would really value some feedback !
    I think you are being a bit unrealistic. It would be impossible for companies to remain in constant contact with cadets. It would be impossible to teach cadets to know exactly what to do in every possible situation. This just doesn't happen in this career am sure most people at some point in life have had an issue at work and have asked friends, colleagues etc for advice, before making it official and taking it to the boss; the internet just allows you to take this a step further and ask hundreds of people for advice. Remember cadets are meant to be adults(Training to be professionals in their field) nothing makes me cringe more when I hear other cadets have got their parents to phone their company or college because they had an issue.

    Comment


    • #3
      I have read your post several times, and have taken several hours to think about how to reply. In fact, I sent it to my father who went through similar concerns 10 years ago when I initially embarked on a career at sea at the age of 17.

      I understand many of the issues you raise and can relate to some. I was also a product of the tonnage tax system, and went with a lesser known company. Initially, when I joined the company I sailed with at the least a British Master, but on my final trip as cadet and first trip as Officer was on board a fully Filipino ship which was at times incredibly challenging and if those ships had been my first trip, I’m not sure whether I’d be here today as a Master Mariner. Undoubtedly there were gaps in my training post cadetship, and when I moved into the cruise lines as a 4th Officer I was given an excellent opportunity to fill in those gaps surrounded by an incredibly professional, albeit busy team.

      The cadetship has become increasingly competitive due to the incredible opportunities it offers, and the tonnage tax scheme has opened up more positions for cadets then had been available for many years. I would like to think that most of those are with reputable companies where cadets area given the opportunity to learn alongside first world Officers who have a similar mentality and method of training. There are then the companies who are less reputable, and operate with fully 3rd world crews, and place cadets onboard the ships as a means to take advantage of the tax reliefs. The question is, would we rather that these companies offer the places on fully 3rd world crewed ships, or not have the positions available at all? Let us not forget that this is an industry where you are no longer competing with a British workforce, but competing against hundreds of other nationalities, many of whom would sacrifice far more than any of us for a position at sea.

      The industry is acutely aware of the issues faced by some cadets, and the colleges do try to prepare cadets for the future that awaits them, but in real terms they embarking on a career that will very rapidly mature them in a harsh and dangerous environment. The career is not for the weak of heart, and the drop out rate for many reasons will always be reasonably high, whether that’s during or post cadetship. I know many people who have completed the cadetship and would swear never to set foot on a ship again. When I took my Masters I’d say most of the people who had stayed at sea to that level with me were people who’d joined at 16-18 like myself, and were so institutionalised that we couldn’t understand how anyone would want to live a life other than at sea. It’s a difficult career to embark on and no matter how much preparation, you won't be prepared for the different cultures, dangerous and isolated environment that you will face.

      I recall that my father was horrified when I went to sea, and tried hard to talk me out of it, but in the end supported my decision because he knew it was what I wanted. My first trip was difficult, and in fact I was very close to wanting to pack it all in. But, I soon realised that the real world, the one outside the western world, is one where life isn’t wrapped in cotton wool. There is a choice to be made; and it’s either one for adventure and challenges, or one that is steady and safe.

      I take offence at two points of your post; the first is that you blame the current Officers, I think that is grossly unfair to the majority of professional colleagues who work so hard to support cadets onboard. The second is that you find it sad that cadets need to use a forum to find out the information, I think that is wrong. Cadets should be prepared to ask questions and research in a place like this where open and frank discussion can take place, no two ships are the same, and this is one of the few places where different , recent and real experiences can be shared. If someone has the drive and capability to survive at sea, then they should be independent enough to research and understand the balanced views through a website like this.

      To summarise, I do sympathise with many of the points and appreciate your opinion, but I don’t think it’s a wholly accurate representation of the majority of cadets.

      Comment


      • #4
        I've heard personally from the OP, and know a little about the situation that has caused this post, the offspring of the OP is on a ship with Norwegian and Philippinos, and one other cadet from the same sponsor company. They have witnessed lifeboat exercises where one boat was dropped due to early release of the hooks (how I'm trying to figure out, as there was no-one in the boat) the second lifeboat was not exercised at all as they didn't want to have the same problem, but the log book was filled out saying all boats exercised and working fine. They have also witnessed tank entries with no safety equipment on standby and no permit to work. Mooring operations sound almost farcical and the officers on board take no interest in training the cadets, frankly it sounds pretty bad to me.

        I have suggested they find the SMS, COSWOP etc and read up on how things should be done before undertaking any work and use them as reference material for reports. I have also suggested they contact their sponsor company asap and keep them abreast of the situation.

        There are good ships and bad ships, and a bad first experience will tarnish your view of life at sea permanently, I think the majority of cadets have a great time at sea, but those are the ones who have no need to post here, or call their parents or sponsor company. The ones who do, generally do so for a reason, just saying they should remember they're supposed to be adults is a bit harsh. As a cadet I woud have liked a bit more contact from my sponsor company too, especially in the first sea phase, but on the other hand, they are busy and if they don't hear from you they'll probably assume you're fine, so if a problem cannot be resolved on board, you should email them. On one ship I sailed on, the cadet who was already there had had issues, and when I joined we had a meeting with the a representative from the shipping company and someone from our sponsor company, and we discussed the issues and were asked to write a full report to our sponsors at the end of the trip. They can't sort out any problems you have if they don't know you have them!

        Size4riggerboots

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        Comment


        • #5
          I think it's a bit unfair to say 'you are being a bit unrealistic' in that companies fail to keep contact with their cadets. I too agree there is nothing more cringeworthy than a nineteen or eighteen year old who needs to get their parents to sort things out for them, but I genuinely do think that that there are a few valid points that have been raised and there is nothing wrong with the odd email asking how things are onboard.

          They are training to be 'a professional in the field' but how many of our other professionals are sent to train with a different culture whose command of English is limited? While this doesn't ring true for all ships or companies this is a concern, how many of our doctors are sent to train in Russia or the Philippines for example because that is in very simple terms what we do to many of our trainees, at sixteen or seventeen years of age? Many of whom with the impression often drummed in at college which describes shipping from the 80s. Many expect the pranks and rubbish jobs, few expect to be the only native english speaker onboard and the sheer loneliness, even worse is being a trainee and even at that stage seeing what you know to be truly dodgy practices, worse again learning (most likely passively) along those lines. And yes the check list culture is a concern. These for me seem valid points and fair commentary for someone watching a son or daughter go to sea for the first time, in many ways a military career would be far more certain.

          The wastage rate is high but unfortunately it is the nature of the beast and a catch 22 in many ways. Trinity house (lighthouse board England and Wales) wrote a very good report on this some years ago on the issue of tonnage tax and its effects on cadets as well as the Seafarers research centre in Cardiff publishing a paper on cadet wastage, I will try to find the link. However the problem is what should we do about it, its root seems far out of reach in government policies, shipping company profits and what happened during the 70s/80s including the flagging out and use of cheap labour (am no expert but you get the jist). Ideally I would love to see us rise as a shipping nation in the true sense of the word, but cheaper crews are found elsewhere and the tonnage tax while improving shipping tonnage often creates high wastage out of trainees and often junior officers, sadly not every shipping company flying the British flag invests in its cadets. For very few does the ideal shipping company exist with decent training and a mostly British crew, how many times do aspiring cadets come on this site and are advised to find shipping company's directly avoid the training companies or specific companies? For good reason.

          However I would also be quick to point out that very few ships are complete rust buckets and even foreign crews are subject to inspections, and there are good people across all nationalities and all ships. There are standards in place even if attitudes come across as lax, that might be a difference in cultures even within companies. I would not fear that your offspring are in too much danger, shipping comes with some dangers but what industry doesn't? There are just as many positives to the industry as well.

          I too find it sad that cadets have to turn to the internet for help, but on the plus side at least it is here. Other avenues such as Nautilus are also worth checking out.

          Comment


          • #6
            http://www.sirc.cf.ac.uk/Uploads/Pub...D%20Thesis.pdf

            Pretty old now but interesting reading.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by laura View Post
              http://www.sirc.cf.ac.uk/Uploads/Pub...D%20Thesis.pdf

              Pretty old now but interesting reading.
              Can you post a summary for lazy people who cannot be bothered reading the whole thing ... :P

              Comment


              • #8
                http://www.publications.parliament.u...99/299we05.htm

                http://www.publications.parliament.u.../299/29906.htm

                https://www.nautilusint.org/Resource...s/Reports.aspx Cadet Survey Report 2010


                for anyone interested... not very political generally but here's some facts xx

                Comment


                • #9
                  Arg those xxxs were meant to be... goddamn auto correct!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by bobofinga View Post
                    Can you post a summary for lazy people who cannot be bothered reading the whole thing ... :P
                    Do you need help with some of the big words? Nah, only joking... it's a report on cadet wastage, cadet experiences and how this contributes to the wastage... well it's more than that but... yeah, it basically says there are more factors to retainment than recruiting 'the perfect cadet', some of the cadets' experiences quoted are positive others are very worrying, but it also shows that often attitudes to situations have a role to play too...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Having read the points that have been made, I do agree with some, but not others. I, as a shoreside technical person, do care about the cadets that are on the ship's that I have dealings with regardless of where they're from. However, at present I have two or three cadets and is therefore easy if I wanted to call them up to see how they are doing as it's manageable. If you're a training officer for Clyde Marine or SSTG and you have 100 odd cadets to deal with then you can't go calling each and everyone to see how they're doing on a regular basis because you'd do nothing else but call them. Also, the shipping company's as well arn't so keen on anyone calling the ships as it can be rather pricey (?19 for 3 minutes I paid at one point). If I have time, I generally fire a quick email off to training agency/cadet asking them how things went on board and I've stressed that they should be as honest as they can, no repercussions, etc and the responses have usually been very positive.

                      It doesn't matter what we say, what the lecturer's say or what the internet tells you, nothing will prepare you for your first trip on a ship. You are, literally, entering a new and different world and to be honest, it doesn't take things easy. I personally think that you need to be a bit "mentally robust" and a bit more mature in one's outlook to work on a ship and not everyone is. I do feel that we get a lot of folks who join and sign up thinking it's all a breeze, paid college course, G&T's on the bridge wing, etc and when the reality of shipboard life sinks its claws in they find that they don't particularly like it and want off. I tend to find that this is more true for those who start at 16, but that is my own opinion from what I saw during college so feel free to call "bullsh*t". From what I remember, we lost a load of folks from the course primarily due to drugs, not turning up to classes, alcohol on board, too much alcohol ashore, medical reasons and then "not for me" in that sort of order. Admittedly the "not for me" category was quite small in comparison to the other lot and to be honest, there is really very little the company can do to change that.

                      When it comes to the crew on board, I don't know if I've just always been lucky or just my general background but I have never had a problem fitting in or getting along with the crew's on board and I've sailed with everything from Russian, Croatian, Romanians, Bulgarians, Ukrainians, Filipino's, etc. I have, at one stage, been the only real English speaker on board and whilst it was difficult at first, things did settle in, the work carried on and I learnt a lot working with those guys. I, personally, am of the belief that we and the officers on board are not there to spoon feed the knowledge to the cadet as they're supposed to be adults and we have a room full of manuals and drawings that they can consult before going (with us obviously) to have a proper look for themselves. Out of all the officers and crew that I have sailed with and have dealings with now, I cannot think of a single one that would purposefully ignore the cadets or any other member of their crew for that matter. One of the best ways to sort of feel a part of the "team" is to try and learn some of the language. My fleet manager has come along and told stories of when he started as a cadet, first thing he was given was a list of tagalog/hindu phrases and that he'd better learn them before asking the ratings for help with anything. If you're going on a ship with non-Brits, then learn some of the language. You don't have to be gabbling like a native, just general pleasantries and what not and try to have an open mind and embrace a foreign culture! I remember one lad from my first phase who had this massive irrational hatred of Muslims and anybody from the Middle East/Indian/Pakistan region, he didn't last long.

                      Why do accidents/incident happen at sea? Not enough time in the world to go into that one on here, but things are most certainly safer that they used to be, however safety does not happen by accident. A person on board is only as safe as they act and whilst the cadets are inexperienced, they should have enough common sense or knowledge to know when something isn't quite right and they should say something to their senior officers about it. Whilst I'm all for transparency and a good safety culture I do think that the cadets should try to raise safety issues with their senior officers and not come running to the shore staff. The ship's all carry a safety management system, something they're supposed to read and be familiar with, something they can raise and mention when they think something isn't quite right. For instance, ship's staff are about to do a tank entry and there is no permit in sight. The only time they should be contacting us about problems on board when there is illegal behaviour or a major safety issue going on, not just because so and so wasn't wearing a helmet on deck.

                      I am with YM when it comes to being a wee bit offended about you blaming the officers on board. The vast majority of crew and officers sailing the world and professional and extremely dilligent, but like in any form of work there are those that are not so much and saying "you're all sh*t" does annoy me a wee bit. I also don't see why we should be teaching your offspring how to treat people. Isn't that your job?

                      I don't think it's sad that folks come to this forum for help and advice. We are an impartial bunch of random people who have all been in the same situations and are generally around a similar age who can offer some sound advice. Just look at the wealth of folks we've got on this forum, we've got Master's, Chief Engineers, a few Chief Mates, a whole plethora of junior officers, a whole load of cadets at various stages in the system and some shore-side folks and even a weasel! I personally think having this forum is fantastic for those who are interested in the maritime industry or want a bit of quiet advice away from their sponsors ears (because let's face it, you're not really going to tell you're sponsor everything are you?).

                      Having had a quick read of S4's post, I can see there are a few things that raise a few eyebrows. The lifeboat falling off the hooks being an interesting one, especially if it's not in the water as surely the hooks shouldn't have been able to activate? The paperwork dodging is a bit iffy, but a good inspection of a ship usually reveals this sort of thing (psst, we don't just speak to senior officers, you'll find me usually nattering to the whole crew at some point). The tank entries, that one is bloody stupid and is actually a sackable offence where I work (we did it not that long ago), but if the cadet is aware of this why are they not raising anything? Near-misses are usually raised anonymously or stop cards issued? The rest of it, sounds to me like a bad culture has taken root on board, but if you don't tell anyone, then how can anything be fixed? If i was this sprog, I'd send a quick email to their training officer when they sign off about the conditions on board and take a few pictures of things as well.

                      Also, if you're kid asks you to call the training agency or sponsor and their 18 odd plus, kick them up the arse! I'd have been sodding mortified if my parents had to ring my TO for me....
                      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.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Think you've got some good points there too GMan but I think it can be very difficult as a trainee to bring up safety issues or any other issues onboard particularly if you're the sole Brit/ Cadet onboard and not on particularly good terms with the crew of which you're less than the s**t on their shoe and made to feel that way too. Safety should be everyone's mandate onboard from Top to Bottom but with some crews it can be very difficult to approach them, even qualified I word and pick my fight's carefully to suit the cultural climate but am in a position where I can and I do report/ act on things that I find unacceptable, even so at at times it can be difficult particularly when the majority nationality of people in more senior positions do not see why it's a problem, but I made a decision early on that I would rather catch hell than kill someone because of a decision I made or didn't make to react to something unsafe. It's fair that cadets should pick up on things related to safety (they are trainee officers) and report them onboard before phoning the designated person but it's not so fair to be put in position of having to point out to a professional crew that the lifeboat's upside down... if you know what I mean.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          This is a tough one, and quite honestly I can see almost every side to this and would suggest that a "case by case" approach needs to be taken, whilst in managment ashore I always took interest in the Cadets even though I wasnt the shore T.O, and I think most of my collegues did as well. (I have even bumped into some of my old cadets - now 2nd / 1st Officers and some of them have thanked me for encouraging them to keep on plodding).

                          My first trip on a Tanker joining with another Cadet the Captain said "right I dont ever want to see you two again until sign off, if I enter the bar then you leave" etc, now that trip made me grow up considerably and toughened me to the extent that every trip after was a walk in the park, I made a concious decision that I was in a very Adult world and need to adapt differently to evey ship I stepped on. The trip could have been hell but I put all my energy into learning and dealing with issues onboard. Also it made me a better person and I hope better to work for as I know how not to manage people.

                          The safety aspect should be drummed in from the 1st day at college, and every Cadet should make it a priority to know what is and what isnt safe and how to raise any concerns.
                          Pilotage - It's just a controlled allision

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The wastage rate for cadets has always been high. I went to sea at 16 and came very close to leaving on a couple of occasions. When you consider the difference between school and GCSE's and working on a ship it is hardly surprising, especially when your friends at home are still at school doing their A-Levels.
                            More fundamentally I think is that a career at sea is not for everyone - no matter how well prepared you may think you are the reality of being 'on your own' away from family and friends for months at a time will just not be for everyone.
                            I find your safety concerns interesting because it reminded me of a incident that happened when I was a cadet, where a colleague ended up on a container ship and raised safety concerns to his parents, who, rather foolishly contacted the flag state of the ship involved resulting in the ship being subjected to an unplanned flag state where they found nothing amiss, needles to say the Captain guessed who had complained and the cadet in question was removed from the ship and the company refused to allow any cadets from our group onboard in the future.
                            Sometimes drills and lifeboat lowering seen through the eyes of someone with no experience may look unsafe, but might actually be perfectly fine - I have seen drills which go badly, or boats that won't lower - it is why you do drills in the first place.
                            At one point I was the onboard training manager for up to 4 cadets and I certainly did care about their welfare and training and I think most people involved in cadet training do actually care, but language and cultural barriers do make it more difficult.
                            I would suggest that no matter how bad it all my seem you should always stick out your first trip or phase at sea and if when you come home you can genuinely say that you hated it, that is the time to leave..
                            Cruise ship Captain with experience on-board Passenger Vessels ranging from 5500-150000 GRT.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'd just like to mention a couple of points - lets remember that the OP is a parent of a cadet, not a cadet themself, I don't know how old their offspring is, but I'm guessing 18-20ish. The OP hasn't said that their offspring has been asking them to call their sponsor on their behalf, nor has the OP indicated that they intend to.

                              I'm 31 now and I still call home and tell my folks how things are going, if it's good news then they're happy for me, if it's bad, ie, if I'm upset, homesick, generally fed up and pissed off or whatever, then naturally, they're concerned and will do anything in their power to help, which generally isn't much but be a sympathetic ear or possibly send me something in the post. I've always been a very independent child and as such they're used to me calling up from far flung places and having a good old whinge and sometimes (I'm a big enough girl to admit this) a good old cry too. However bear in mind that my folks also have a friend or two who was in the MN "back in the day" and have spent several months onboard a ship themselves (sail training ship in the caribbean, nothing like the MN, but enough that they know a few bits of ship terminology and understand the difference between seasickness and being sick of the sea) so they have a vague idea of what I'm on about, sometimes.

                              From what I can tell, the OP is a (very understandably, given the incidents related in my last post on this thread) worried parent who has had reports from their child that things are not all hunky-dory onboard their first ship. And no matter how old you are, your parents will always regard you as the little girl or boy that they have pictures of running around the garden with a *insert preferred childhood toy here* naked. Parents worry, it's a fact, telling them not to because now that that little Johnny or Jane is legally an adult makes you sound rather like Kevin the teenager. Turning 18 doesn't suddenly give you the key to wisdom! Yes, when you start a cadetship and join your first ship you are entering a very different and adult world, but that doesn't mean you are automatically tuned into it, it takes time, and most importantly, guidance. No-one expects a first trip cadet to have a clue about what's going on or what they're meant to be doing, that's why we have a three year cadetship, and training officers, and it's not unreasonable to expect that they would invest some time in telling their cadets how to do things, safely.

                              The promises and brochures that the OP and their offspring have read do not seem to be matching up with the experiences, so the OP has come here to find out: Is this normal? Am I worrying too much? Does safety really get that marginalised? Rather than jumping on the phone to the sponsor company, or trying to advise their kid about something they know very little about they've decided to do their research, and actually guys when it comes down to it, we, here, are probably the best resource you could get. Collectively, we're at every stage of the game, we're not constrained by the MNTB/Nautilus/our companies (well - as long as you keep anonymous) and we can provide honest and most importantly realistic answers. Personally, I don't find it sad at all that someone who has these questions has to come here, I think it's one of the reasons we're here.

                              What does make me sad is that this parent is thinking that perhaps all ships will be like this, and let me assure you again OP, this is NOT the case. I don't think that any offence was intended by the comments regarding serving officers etc; let's remember that this is a first impression, based on one (very irregular sounding) ship. It's understandable and perfectly normal to assume that if the first one of any new thing you come across is "this way" then the rest will not be too dissimilar.

                              As Pilot Chris says these things need to be taken on a case by case basis, situations like this do arise, and its difficult and awkward for a cadet to know what to do; not wanting to p*ss people on ship off, (I asked an awkward (but pertinent) question in a fire drill debrief once, practically got my head shot off for raising it above the parapet), not wanting to cause a hullabaloo in the sponsor company office and get labelled a trouble maker, even just not wanting to admit that they don't know if this is normal, because if it is normal then they're going to get called a wuss and told to "suck it up buttercup" and have everyone laugh at them. Where better to ask these questions than an internet forum such as this before you decide that either it needs to be taken further, or to put up and deal with it?

                              Size4riggerboots

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