MAY I CONGRATULATE Hamish Ross on his latest editorial, The Role Of Master in the June 2013 issue of Sea Breezes.
Much of what he reported on has been going on for far too long. Indeed between the 1980s and the 1990s, when satellite connections made it possible to receive daily calls from HO (Management Company) ashore, I suffered regularly from what I would only refer to as interference in my role as Master from, mostly accountants with no knowledge of running ships at sea. From memory, these uncalled for actions included replacing reasonably well paid, but English speaking watch keeping engineer officers with (often unqualified) nationals. I remember being castigated and threatened with the sack by a young mouthy person in Bermuda for returning replacement engineers to Warsaw because they had not one word of the English language between them.
Other things which stick in my mind include the lack of supplying engine spares, which once culminated in a complete breakdown. Following this incident, the Chief Engineer was instructed to change his logbook entries! Others, too many to mention here, included instruction to arrive at certain ports at specified times when hove to in a storm, and non-supply of victuals because the budget had run out!
Some of the owners controlled their ships admirably, relying on their appointed Master to do his utmost for the common good of the ‘adventure’. Management Organisations were however, from my point of view in command, a pain in the proverbial. I trust that most of the latter have now gone to the wall, as even disinterested owners would have found out by now their mistake in placing the vessels with such management. It was however, difficult to find employment 30 odd years ago unless with foreign flagged vessels, as the Red Ensign was practically non-existent. We were all on contract to the managers, not the owners. After many arguments, rows over the phone, I seldom won, although insisting the safety of the crew and vessel was paramount.
I made few friends ashore in the office I assure you, but had a slight stroke whilst at home, on leave, and so off contract. No compensation then. Also, nearly impossible to find relative employment after recovery. Accountants do not enjoy being shown the error of their ways. For the sake of the present Masters in command, I do hope the Faststream Report brings about change, and more power to Hamish Ross for bringing it to our attention.