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Gard Guidance Masters


I consider it a very great honour and privilege to have been invited to prepare an introduction for this, the Second Edition, of the Gard Guidance to Masters published by Gard.

Since the launch of the first edition of this excellent book in 2000 I have been a great fan – and a well thumbed copy has never been far away from my desk top. This second, revised and updated, edition has made a first class publication even better!

The Master of a commercial ship seems to be on the receiving end of not only an apparent endless steam of legislation, rules and regulation with which he or she must comply but also increasingly severe punishment in the event of any failure to comply or other violation. It is perhaps worth reflecting for a moment upon the requirement of Section 1.2.3 of the ISM Code:

1.2.3 The safety management system should ensure:
.1 compliance with mandatory rules and regulations; and
.2 that applicable codes, guidelines and standards recommended by the Organization, Administrations, classification societies and maritime industry organizations are taken into account.

Whilst the primary obligation is upon ‘The Company’ to develop, implement and maintain the Safety Management System – it will be very much the responsibility of the Master to ensure onboard implementation. The ‘mandatory rules and regulations’ which are referred to in Section of the Code will include not only the Legislation of the Flag State Administration – but also the laws, rules and regulations of each of the many different countries which the vessel might visit. Fortunately most maritime nations of the world tend to adopt and ratify IMO and ILO conventions which makes compliance somewhat more manageable. However, some countries – notably the USA and increasingly the European Union – introduce additional or different legislation – which increases the burden of compliance. However, such legislation can, perhaps with some difficulty at times, be identified and complied with. But what about Section What should be included, or excluded, from those categories of guidelines and publication – which must be taken into account? I can certainly imagine that, following some maritime incident, the Master will be criticised for not having taken into account a particular Code or set of guidelines or ‘industry publication’. This is a very real, practical, dilemma facing the modern day Master – and Company – basically there is so much out there to comply with and to ‘take into account’!

What I think the Gard Guidance to Masters does, more then any other single achievement, is to provide a passage plan to steer a navigable course through that dilemma. In other words it is a very practical and helpful filter to guide the Master as to where his/her attention should be focussed. Of course the Guide itself is not intended to replace any of the ‘mandatory rules and regulations’ or ‘applicable codes, guidelines etc.’ referred to in Section 1.2.3 of the ISM Code – but it will help to make them a little more manageable.

It is highly commendable therefore that one of the worlds leading P&I clubs took the initiative to produce such a publication. However, a real dilemma which must have confronted Gard is how to actually prepare such a set of guidelines and who would be suitably qualified and experienced to take on such an enormous task and responsibility.

Such an author, or general editor, would have to have the legal knowledge to be aware of the all the various rules and regulation – not only as a practicing maritime lawyer but also, ideally, having had experience working at a senior level within a Flag State Administration. The individual would, ideally, have had many years of practical experience of dealing with the whole range of maritime accidents and incidents which might occur during the commercial operation of vessels – a P&I correspondent in a large, busy, sea port would probably be the most suitable candidate. On top of that the individual MUST have had extensive seagoing experience on a range of vessels who would be in a position to empathise with the Masters dilemma and really understand the job of commanding a commercial vessel. Finally, the individual must not only promote and support the professionalism of the serving Master but must also have the enthusiasm and the ability to communicate and to motivate serving Masters to share in that professionalism and enthusiasm – to consult and follow the Guidelines provided. I know of only one person who could satisfy this almost impossible set of criteria – and Gard had already secured this Captain to steer their ship – Captain Ronald Wöhrn.

It is with great pride therefore that I extend my congratulations to Gard, Captain Ronald Wöhrn and the editorial support team who have worked so hard to produce this most valuable book. I know that their greatest reward will be the assurance that serving Masters are using the Guidelines to help them perform their day to day work of operating their ships safely and efficiently. Aspiring Masters as well as ship operators, maritime lawyers, surveyors, consultants and anyone else involved in the operation of vessels and in dealing with problems if things go wrong will also find the Gard Guidance to Masters an invaluable addition to their reference library.

1st May 2006
Dr. Phil Anderson, BA(Hons.), D.Prof., FNI, MEWI, AMAE, Master Mariner
President – The Nautical Institute