Friday, July 25, 2008

Clipper Pacific Update - Still in Tampa and The News Is Not Great

I wanted to give those of you interested an update on the Clipper Pacific...and it is not really very good news.

She remains in Tampa and, according to a U.S. Coast Guard release late yesterday there is work being done to replace a 5 foot by 6 foot plate of steel along with some internal structure (beams and related metal).

What is also disturbing is that the passengers are not permitted to remain on board because there is no approved Emergency Evacuation Plan.

You may recall that I immediately commented that a patch was not going to be acceptable and that the plate would most probably have to be replaced. That is exactly what is being done. So hopefully I have kept Iamboatman's reputation intact.

I must, however, pause and ask a question. "For all the passengers who are spending their time and money (along with the operator's money) vacationing in Tampa, how many have taken the time to think about who is running the ship, how they could have allowed them to have their lives risked with such deplorable conditions, and how come they remain willing to cross the Pacific Ocean with those very same people in charge?"

Far more money is being spent keeping the passengers in Tampa than the cost of flying them back home. Is the need to complete the journey, or getting one's money's worth, sufficiently strong that people are willing to risk their safety and possibly their lives? I cannot fathom how this question should even need to be asked.

A caveat: The United States Coast Guard is not going to let a truly unsafe vessel depart Tampa, so to be fair to the ship, when she is ready to leave she will be at least minimally seaworthy from the Coast Guard's perspective. And, yes, the captain and crew will have the necessary licenses attesting to their technical competence. But are they actually competent? The facts here tend to strongly infer not.

There is far more to competency than a piece of paper. This is a major area of concern and conflict in the superyacht industry and, I assume, in the shipping industry as well. The days of "putting in sea time" are fading away as technocrats sitting behind desks create regulations that try to equate passing exams with seaworthiness. But that is another topic for another day.

In th meantime I will continue to shed a tear as I fondly remember sipping a Tequila Sunrise on the deck of the Song of Norway thinking how great was to be on a cruise.