MarEx Mailbag: Reader Response to Editorials and Online Articles

MarEx readers weigh in on the previous editorial (Wakeup Call: The Road to STCW Compliance Starts to Get Bumpy…) and other MarEx online articles.

In our September 25th e-newsletter, we published an editorial entitled, " Wakeup Call: The Road to STCW Compliance Starts to Get Bumpy…" The piece talked about the new Coast Guard NAVIC (04-08) and the new NMS TWIC Advisory. Both documents were eye-openers and we said so. The implications for mariners and their employers are many, but most of those – like most regulatory mandates – will not be easy hurdles to clear. Read the September 25th editorial by clicking HERE. Also, check out a few of our reader's comments on the article below:

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I just finished reading your article & had to say "thanks for the laughs & insights". I'm getting into the last phase of a career in State service & have been thinking for some time now about taking back up the Mariner life that I loved for just over 14 years.

I'll be 58 in just over two years when I leave this organization & try my hand back in the tug/barge industry. A bit of a scary thought with the change in equipment that has come about since I last operated a tug back in 1991. I must say I'd like to operate one of those hot Z drives; but I'll have to do my time in the barrel again before that happens.

Thanks again

Jack D. Prescott
Oil Spill Prevention Specialist
Dept. of Fish & Game

MarEx Editor's Remarks: The changes in technology have been astounding. It is the one thing that gives me pause as I wade through the STCW maze. Thanks for writing. Here's another letter on the same subject:

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Dear Sir,

The increased bureaucratization of rules governing the maritime industry is extremely regrettable. My father operates two barges on Germany's water ways and struggles with an equally complex (and perverse) system in Europe. Indeed, things can get worse (although the Europeans don't have to struggle with TWIC).

By the way, I noticed you are looking for a BRM and VSO course. We are just down the road from Charlotte. I would love it if you came by, took your classes here and maybe wrote a little story about us.

Warm regards,

Thomas Strenge
Director, International Business Development
Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy

MarEx Editor's Remarks: Regulatory intrusions know no international boundaries, apparently. It's nice(?) to know that this isn't confined to our shores only. Thanks for weighing in. Here's another:

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You think you have problems, I live in New South Wales, Australia.

Next Monday, the heavy vehicle drivers come under new laws for driver rest requirements, the statute is about 2" thick, if a driver turns the engine on he is required to log it in his log book, if he or another person drives from say the parking area to fill it up with fuel, then he has to log off when he fills the tank, then log back on to drive it back to the parking area. If he is making a delivery and has to wait in a queue with the motor running, he is working, however if he turns the engine off and reads the paper he is resting.

I hope you cannot beat this statute.


Bill Tainsh

MarEx Editor's remarks: Me, too. Thanks for putting things in perspective. Here's another serious letter:

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Just read your article about STCW/TWIC problems. You mentioned about mariners over 50. Well, I retired from the Army a little over 2 years ago. I was in the watercraft field for 15 years. Retired as a mate on a 174 ft. ocean going vessel. Due to conflicts between Coast Guard and Army regulations, I only received a 200 ton near coastal master without a towing endorsement. So I went down the school road, retaking the same classes that I had received from the Army, so that I would qualify to take a test that was almost identical to the one I took in the Army. Due to the size of my CG license I was forced to take a deck job, (and work for captains and mates that I would not hire to operate a boat in the bath tub), but now since I now have a 500t master/1600t mate NC license with master of towing endorsement (but no experience in eyes of a lot of companies), I am having trouble getting back into the wheel house that I was in for many years and sailed all over the world in.

A frustrated mariner

MarEx Editor's Remarks: I don't even want to try and reconcile his experience with the Coast Guard licensing rules. But, it seems that this individual has had to do a lot of things that perhaps might not have been warranted. Then again, it is not necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison. It'll be interesting to see if anyone writes in about this one. Thanks for weighing in. Here's one more:

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Dear Mr. Keefe,

I have read, with interest, your article "Wakeup Call: The Road to STCW Compliance Starts to Get Bumpy".

I would appreciate receiving from you further comments on the proposed US regulations with respect to medical fitness. While the IMO, ILO and WHO develop international standards, we are in Canada developing medical standards for the examinations of seafarers. I believe will greatly benefits from receiving your comments.

Best Regards,

Name Withheld

MarEx Editor's Remarks: I didn't get permission to use his name on line, something I try to do, but thought his comments were interesting. The writer is a Transport Canada employee. I'm hardly an expert on all of this, but following along with the Coast Guard's NMS people is your best bet. Here's a letter about a visit to Mass. Maritime Academy. I thought it might make somebody up there happy:

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Dear Joe:

I was at your alma mater the other day renewing my radar. It was homecoming. Your regiment looked pretty sharp in this day and age of casual Friday. Brought back memories of the 'dome' when I was a mug in the 60's.

All the best,

Captain Paul Lobo

MarEx Editor's Remarks: I didn't make it up to homecoming this year. Frankly, I don't think they've yet recovered from the oblique left turn taken by the class of 1980 as they departed the football field at Homecoming in 2005. We cut off some class from the 40's and never looked back. But, this letter brings back happy memories of Morning Formation (MO-FO) on the Parade field. For the record, and although there are some who will say that I never went, I did go regularly, often with a hot cup of coffee. Sometimes, the band would come out and play "Loonie Tunes" as the Regimental Staff marched on. Now, that was worth getting up for.

The next letter references an editorial about ship scrapping that appeared on August 28th. MarEx readers can read the editorial entitled, "MARAD's Now Rapid Pace of Ship Disposal Evokes Nostalgia at MarEx" by clicking HERE. Read on to see a letter referencing this piece:


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Once again, been there, done that!

Your mention of the HOYT S, VANDENBURG brings back another memory to this octogenarian brain (but can't remember what I had for breakfast).

I was Panama Canal transit pilot of the VANDENBURG sometime in the 60s. I remember the incident because it was a windy day and the Master (nice guy) expressed some concern over the wind effect on those two parabolic antennas when I told him we would not have tug assistance at the locks. I asked him if they could be moved into a cup like position rather than upright. He had it done and, as I recall, we had a very pleasant transit. Not even sure it made all that much difference.

Bill Lyons

MarEx Editor's Remarks: Thanks for writing, Bill. I'll bet you remember the rumbling those dishes made when they rotated them, too. It fairly shook the ship, which had ample auxiliary power to handle the giant appendages.

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