The other topic is the increase in rules and regulations imposed on shipping. Specifically new EPA rules, Deepwater writes:
The National Pollution Discharge Elimination System requires a record to be maintained onboard the vessel tracking all discharges incidental to normal
operations such as; Ballast water (There is allready is a record
keepingand reporting requiremet for ballast), deck washdown, cathodic
protection, reverse osmosis brine, elevator pit effluent and gray
water just to name a few of the 28.
Is there anyone, anywhere considering the cumulative effect of all these regulations on vessel safety? At what point does someone say enough?
In most cases there is sufficient time to comply with all the requirements, enough time can usually be found by cutting into leisure or rest time. But what will be the effect on the ship if the captain more and more frequently locks himself in the room to finish paperwork? What about the conversations with the Chief about fuel that get cut short, or the twenty minutes spend with the mate discussing operations now reduced to 10 minutes. What about those "get acquainted" chats with the third mate to put a new officer at ease.
Lower priority tasks such as reviewing the ship's security plan or improving the ships emergency response based on some problem uncovered at the last drill get pushed aside. If the captain was to reduce the interactions with the crew to the bare minimum that would not be a "show stopper", the ship would continue to operate. But a failure to properly comply with regulations can stop the show. Show stopper usually get first priority.
At some point, all the slack will be taken up and shifting ship's resources from operations to clerical work to insure regulation compliance will begin to impact safety. How will we know when that point is reached?