October 2012

We all like to kid about acronym soup, and it is pretty difficult to keep up with all the new ones. I remember that as a young engineer I was always hesitant to ask in public, because I was afraid that asking the question would prove my ignorance.

 

Somewhere in my career I crossed that bar and now when somebody uses an acronym that I don't know (well, at my age, it generally is an acronym I can't remember), I no longer worry about admitting my ignorance and simply ask what it means. Occasionally I even emerge victoriously without trying when the acronym dropper cannot tell me what it means. 

 

Martin & Ottaway has been deeply involved in a specific acronym progression that has roiled the maritime industry for a while now. It began in the 1990's with QMS, it begat TQM, then it begat ISM, which begat SMS, which begat STCW, which begat ISPS, which begat ECP and dozens of derivative acronym offshoots. And to deal with all of it, the industry developed the corporate HQSE department and Martin & Ottaway functions as an HQSE consultant. HQSE stands for Health, Quality, Safety and Environmental. At first glance, this acronym is reasonably inclusive of the systems that a well run shipping company needs to have in place to satisfy the demands that are not directly related to the company's income producing model. We like to call them "for the public" systems, because they allow a company to function as a responsible world citizen (and more importantly, based on our experience, they actually add to the corporate bottom line). 

 

But the acronym is not complete and misses a number of important concepts.

 

I was struggling with this when writing a paper about recent HQSE system issues that I will be presenting at the SNAME annual meeting on October 26. That paper shows that training systems need to be an integral component of HQSE systems. This led me to wonder about how to introduce the "T" for training into HQSE.

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Fisheries management is an excruciatingly complex subject. The management (or mismanagement)  of fisheries can very rapidly affect the viability of the industry and has all sorts of carry on effects. Martin & Ottaway sees these effects in fishing boat accident investigations and fishing boat valuations. For example, a fishing boat value is not just tied to the market, or even to its specific trade, but can also be affected by applicable fishing licenses and fishery management methods. While fishing will always be dangerous, as can be noted at the end of this story, well designed and well managed fisheries tend to be much safer than poorly managed fisheries.

 

Improper management can result in complete vessel value collapse, as has occurred in Spain and was described in a New York Times article, while a successful management program can have many positive carry on effects.

 

Seattle Admiralty Attorney (and fellow wooden boat aficionado) Chip Jordan introduced me to an example of a program that is worthy of further consideration. It concerns the Seattle fishing schooner fleet.

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My wife, Anne, has two Aunt Pats. That becomes confusing, and many years ago I dubbed one of them Crazy Aunt Pat. Not because she is crazy, but simply because she is a smart, bold person who is afraid of nothing and I needed a way to distinguish her from the other who is equally wonderful. She lives in Oregon, but is a regular visitor to the East Coast and she has driven cross country many a time starting just after WWII and has done it on her own into her eighties.

 

My daughter just became a freshman at University of Washington, and my wife and I decided to take the time to drive her there to allow us to finally have our first cross country road trip.

 

Anne calls Crazy Aunt Pat to tell her we are West Coast bound and asked our family cross country expert for good stopping points along the way. Crazy Aunt Pat said: “There is one stop that really stands out. It is a house in Spring Green, Wisconsin, I cannot think of the name right now, but it is the town where Frank Lloyd Wright's house is. It is a four hour stop to see it all, but make sure you do not miss it.”

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