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Why did the Bounty sink?

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by Don Novello, Nov 3, 2012.

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  1. Kafue

    Kafue Senior Member

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    What a depressing post for all of us!
  2. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    We make choices every time we take a boat out, every time we get behind the wheel of a car or the helm of a boat. But to me, the number one consideration in boating is safety. I also believe in some checks and balances. When it comes to taking a boat out if the owner says no, it doesn't go. If the Captain says no, it doesn't go. If the engineer says it's unfit, it doesn't go. They all have veto ability. And if anyone else feels uncomfortable going then they shouldn't join in the trip. It's not a way to prove your bravery or your skills at sea. Judgement is paramount.

    As owners we should respect judgement as paramount but often we just look at credentials or experience and at costs. If I were interviewing captains or engineers for jobs, my key question wouldn't be all the times they'd taken boats out. I'd ask about the times they'd refused or the jobs they'd turned down, about the boats they left the moment they returned to port.

    Every day there are yachts operated by both owners and captains who are intoxicated or at minimum under the influence. And others just go along with it. I know an engineer who was hired for a charter and then blackballed because he refused to take the yacht out, saying it was unfit. The fact another engineer jumped in and they went out to sea and broke down completely didn't even redeem him. But that's the kind of integrity I'd want in an engineer. I also respect the stew who left a yacht because the Captain was drunk nearly every day while operating it and the owner was fine with it as they were drinking buddies.

    There were so many errors in judgement related to the Bounty. Now it should remind each of us how important good judgement is in all things related to the sea. It's not just how many tickets or how many years. As an owner, I want a captain who could know I was wanting to go somewhere tomorrow more than I ever wanted to go anywhere and he'd still say no if conditions warranted it.
  3. ArcanisX

    ArcanisX Senior Member

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    Speaking of engineers and their, hmm, weight. Gross tonnage: ????????? ???????
    Sorry it's in Russian, seems Mormul's books weren't published in English, a real shame I'd say (if someone knows of a translation - or knows Russian - I very much recommend it). Here's a short story about the same: K-27 submarine reactor accident, 1968

    But the investigative book at first link provides an amazing detail: right before rushed and fated deployment, K-27's Chief Engineer (Commander of Battle Station Five - reactors/turbines/generators) wrote in a logbook: "Battle Station Five not mission ready". That's pretty big for a nuclear sub with experimental reactor, eh? Well he got overruled, and the rest is history.
    And no, Russian navy is not actually all vodkas and balalaikas. It's just that Engineer's squeeze between doing everything in the best practice and time/budget constraints from high above is a universal situation which could own an experienced professional, much less someone who's adept at fixing harvesters.
  4. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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  5. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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  6. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    I agree, Don't think there was any more stuff to do wrong.

    Don't (hope) think he meant to take a crew members life (or his), but the ego thing does screw a lot of things up when you're on top. Volunteers are gullible.

    I think too much slack was on his leash also. A responsible owner or owner management should of also recognized the condition of the ship at all times and stopped his last plan (unless they too were snowballed or did not (really?) know better).
  7. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    I've known too many owners who knew or understood precious little about their boats mechanical condition, nor did they care as long as it didn't break down on their day off. Their only concern was keeping expenses down. So I can't put too much blame there, although I'm sure some lawyers will. This one lies squarely on the captain's shoulders, especially since he had a lot of experience, knew the boat like the back of his hand I'm sure; knew how to read weather, yet acted like he got a sudden case of dementia.
  8. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Well, I blame the owners as well. Doesn't relieve any blame from the Captain, but clearly safety was not ever their primary concern. Just because a lot of owners think that way doesn't make it right. There comes a responsibility in owning a boat that others will be carried on. There was plenty of reason for them to know this trip was ill advised. They were running a "business" (yes a non profit but it still has business responsibilities) and they as such are responsible for everything going on in it. Captain may get primary blame, but owner deserves some as well.
  9. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Bounty lost her certification to carry passengers. She was basically a floating museum. Guests were only alowed aboard while dockside. So it was just crew working on an ill-maintained boat. Which of us in the business hasn't been in that position 100 times? As captain it's up to me to tell the owner "This boat is going nowhere". Often they don't want to hear that, but it's my decision. After that he can leave it, get it fixed or hire another captain with a greater risk tollerance. From everything I've read this ill-fated voyage was completely the captain's idea. In our current culture we're always looking to blame someone, and it frustrates us when the culprit is dead. So we look for someone else, especially someone with deep pockets. The owner took no affirmative action one way or another. So I'll leave the blaming of the owner or the CG to the lawyers. To me this is 100% on the captain. To me the owner's responsibility is limited to the costs of the rescue and medical care for his crew. Beyond that it's the crew's responsibility for taking a dangerous job.

    I grew up taught to take personal responsibility for myself, and that includes what I allow others to do to me. It should be noted that the 2nd crewmember to die also took that view as evidenced by the message she sent to her parents: 'If I die please understand it was doing what I loved'.
  10. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    While I respect your opinion as regards the owner, Nycap, both the Coast Guard investigator and I disagree with it.
  11. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    There is a large body of international law that throws that in the holding tank where it belongs.

    For an extreme example take a look at the Korean ferry Sewol sinking. For more day to day "it's the crew's reponsibility" horsecrap, ask Roberto Ferrarini (Costa Cruises) or Patrick Ryan (Staten Island Ferries) why they thought the way you do.

    We have come a long ways since the 1860s way of thinking about ship operations and a lot of lives have been saved because of it.
  12. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    You're talking about commercial / passenger vessels. That's an entirely different world. Bounty was closer to a recreational vessel when she left New London. If she were carrying passengers I'd agree with you completely. My opinion would also be different if this were a captain hired to do a job. This captain was intimately familiar with Bounty, and in the best position to know the condition of the vessel.
  13. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    Since you are a hired captain and you hire others to serve as crew, it does apply to you. You don't have the right, legal or moral, to make the kind of amateur decisions taken by the "captain" of Bounty.

    Bounty was a wannabe commercial vessel skirting every regulation it could with the help of an incompetent master and an owner who turned a blind eye. The only sad part about the "captain" dying is that he escaped being held responsible.

    Read the report, get someone who understands the role of owners and masters to explain it to you. That wasn't a 30 foot fishing boat with a "captain" swanning an owner around on a day trip. It was a corporate asset engaged in commercial activities on behalf of the corporation. Both the owner and the master had a long and well documented history of ignoring or skirting the regulations in place to prevent what happened.

    Did you even read the report and the hearing transcripts?
  14. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    This isn't just maritime. The days of owners or CEO's being able to plea ignorance as to the actions of their employees is diminishing.

    In the original report:

    "The inability and failure of HMS BOUNTY Organization to provide effective
    oversight and operating restrictions for their vessel and personnel.

    The failure of HMS BOUNTY Organization and Capt. to effectively
    evaluate and determine if prevailing and forecasted weather conditions were
    favorable for sailing. This constitutes negligence.

    The failure of HMS BOUNTY Organization and Capt. to appropriately
    evaluate the vessels material condition and suitability for sailing in the forecasted weather conditions (given what they both knew about the condition of the vessel’s structure and the lack of testing to ensure all bilge systems were fully functional and up to the task of performing to designed parameters). This constitutes negligence."


    In the review:

    "The Investigating Officer correctly identified many causal factors in his investigation. The most critical was the failure of the BOUNTY's management and master to exercise effective oversight and risk management in the overall operation of the BOUNTY, and specifically with undertaking it's final voyage in the face of an impending hurricane."

    It's simple even as owner of a recreational vessel. If I knowingly send my captain out in my boat, knowing it's not safe and a hurricane is approaching, then I'm negligent. And as a revenue producing entity which the Bounty's organization was, then that responsibility increases.
  15. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Agree 100%

    Agree 100%

    Yes I did read the report, and your rudeness won't change my opinion.

    It was a hunk of junk being moved by the crew. It was not engaged in commercial activities. It was not allowed to carry passengers, and was one step away from the bone yard. Basically she wasn't much more than one of the ships heading for the breakers at Bangladesh, the owners just hadn't made that decision yet. They too get moved by crews, and not all of them complete their final journey. Working on such boats is a risk that many of us take.

    Mind you, I am not exonerating the owners (in fact it feels weird even defending them at all). That's why I said that they should be held responsible for the cost of the rescue and any medical expenses. I'm just saying that it was all in the hands of the captain. HE should have said 'This boat does not sail'.
  16. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    In my opinion the word Management was stuck in that report because they wanted someone who is alive that they can blame. Had the captain lived it would have been 99% about him alone, because he was the one hired to evaluate every one of those things. Management would have been named for financial responsibility because they're the deep pockets. Management's responsibility lies in that they hired the wrong person for the job. How many of us haven't done that at one time or another? Just look to the financial crisis of 2008. That's Monday night quarterbacking. Why didn't the CG make that determination when they were licensing him? Why didn't any of his former employers figure that out? The owners didn't "send my captain out in my boat, knowing it's not safe and a hurricane is approaching". That was the captain's decision, and as captains part of our job is to be persuasive. I can very easily imagine that conversation: 'Captain, are you sure you want to do that? It could be dangerous'. ' This looks like the hurricane of 1938. If we stay here Bounty will get destroyed. We've been through rough weather hundred's of times before, even hurricanes. Everything will be fine.' 'OK then cap. Good luck and keep us posted'.
  17. olderboater

    olderboater Senior Member

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    Actually it was. It was being moved to another location to bring in revenue there. So it was a commercial activity even if not being paid for it specifically.

    It sounded like you were exonerating them. You argued with my post saying they were responsible too. And you said, "To me this is 100% on the captain." (Edit: I notice now in the next post you're reducing to 99%) That indicates then 0% on the owners. I do understand that you say absolutely the captain did everything wrong. But the very fact he was in the position to do so traces to the owner. Yes, the boat was a piece of junk, but the owner chose to still show it. He was the one still justifying the money spent on it and the statements he'd made regarding it.

    Actually a lot of ego involved. The owners and the Captain let their ego's overrule logic.

    I think the owner should be responsible for more than just medical expenses to those aboard.

    As to the rescue, he will not be responsible for those costs.
  18. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Many years ago I was bringing a dinner yacht up north when we encountered a draw bridge. There was heavy shoaling in the area and a stiff wind making it difficult to hold position. The owner grumbled when the bridge tender wouldn't open until scheduled. "We're a commercial vessel. You must open on demand" he growled over the radio. The bridge tender's reply was "Where do you hail from?" He knew we were transporting and not involved in commercial activities. Bounty's only commercial activities were conducted dockside.

    Not at all. Sorry it came across that way. They have a financial responsibility as I stated. The responsibility for those fool decisions though were 100% on the captain.

    Like what? We live in a too litigious society. Nobody wants to take personal responsibility for their actions. The crew was not constricted. They voluntarily chose to cruise on that boat, and they knew they were heading for a hurricane. They wanted adventure and they got it. If they want to make money off it, let them write a book. It reminds me of the suit that required McDonalds to mark their cups warning "Coffee May Be Hot" Duh! Sorry, but if I spill my coffee on myself and get burned I'm the type that would blame myself. Guess I'd never cut it as a lawyer.

    Unfortunately you're correct. I believe that when someone freely chooses to put themselves into harms way and need to be rescued, they should foot the bill. Instead you and I pay for these fool's mishaps and that's not right. When I hear about these idiots who pay $100K to climb Mt. Everest and get killed, my only thought is 'at least nobody got killed trying to save them and we didn't have to pay for their rescue'. Do what you want for adventure, but you shouldn't expect others to pay for your foolishness.
  19. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    There was nothing "rude" in any of my statements. The fact that you are unable to understand is perhaps because the underlying elements go well beyond what a weekend boat driver might be able to understand, and is an indication that it might behoove you to have a professional mariner explain it to you.

    I see olderboater has done a pretty good job of trying to explain it but it seems to have not penetrated very deeply.
  20. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    Sounds like you need a drink Marmot. Why don't you go do that.
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