Ignoring the Law at Sea is a Dangerous Business

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The unresolved tension between a master and a rig manager, between legal and commercial considerations, is often the key to why accidents happen. The tension is obvious. The master's duties are to protect the safety of the MODU as a vessel, all the people aboard,the equipment and the mission as defined by the charter, the environment and in the orders of the chartering owner. The rig manager's duties by contract is to respond to the charterer's instructions. Typically, this means the minimisation of time on station and maximization of productivity. The oil patch custom [is is the custom of most American shoreside observers] is to marginalize the master. The regulations require one. There is one. The regulators are likely to take a different position after a disaster. Themaster has duties at law and if they are not carried out, he is liable. The rig manager is irrelevant to the master's regulators and by those lights he should be.

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