OMSA on deep water

Recently an article has been published in a magazine for the offshore industry. The topic was “Offshore Safety” and the article was about that US will require foreign flagged offshore vessels to comply with domestic marine casualty reporting.

The intention is to get a better picture of what actually happens on the US Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), which is understandable and acceptable. However, it is nothing of this which makes me say that OMSA (Offshore Marine Service Association) is out on deep water.

After further reading of the article the OMSA’s director of government relations, Sara Branch states, “One of the things we’ve tried to stress to the Coast Guard and to Congress is that our vessels (US flagged) are continually held to a higher standard when it comes to pollution management and maritime security awareness”, and she continues with “Foreign flag vessel should be held to the same standard”.

This part bothers me since I believe Sara Branch has never been on board a foreign flagged vessel, and if she has, we most probably talk about vessels in singular. Neither can I believe she has visit the Port Fourchon which is a very important offshore port south of New Orleans. You only need one day there to realize that many of the US vessels do need to repeat the “pollution management” learning for instance.

OMSA Pollution Annex VI

The picture above shows a vessel in Port Fourchon owned by a company with a high level of pollution management, or?

US is very good in stipulating rules and regulations, but I suggest Sara Branch to be more humble with regards to the US fleet’s performance in adaption and implementation of the same rules and regulations. In my opinion they are in no way better, or held to a higher standard than any other vessel in the US Gulf. I am not saying that I have seen all vessels in the US Gulf, but I can guarantee that I have seen more than Sara, and in my opinion the US fleet does not deserve this swagger, not even from an US established association.

The bottom line of above is that it is sad that OMSA believe that the “home actors” are the best in the world, when the truth is that it is a long way to go to reach that position. It is not just a matter of creating rules and regulations and then shout out loud that you have the highest standard, you also need to follow up the implementation, which has not been done. The picture above speakt for itself, this is just one of hundreds of vessels with the same combustion techniques in Port Fourchon, and this would never been accepted in a European country. But maybe, Annex VI is not about pollution?

There is also another part in the article that bothers me, and it is about OMSA’s safety focus. They say that crewmen are trained to recognise safe work environments and they are encourage to stop work if they see something unsafe that could lead to injury. This is a quote from the President of the OMSA, Ben Billings, who really believe that the end product of this safety related focus is that good. I have only one question regarding this.

Why are the riggers in US still chasing the tag lines of a load coming down on deck from a rig or any other vessel during a loading operation, where they constantly put them self in a dangerous situation if the load comes free of any reason?

This behavior is no longer accepted in Europe, no one is allowed to go out on back deck if not the load is on deck and it is enough slack on the wire. It seems like it is more important to protect the load itself than the deck crew in US, and I do not see the reason of doing this.

Finally, Ben Billings does say something important in the article, and that is that foreign- and US-flag vessels should be on same safety footing, which I completely agree with. However, it might be a discussion of who is going to raise their level of safety!

If you are interested in reading the article, please click on the link below:

Stateside Safety Standards


Johan Rindmyr