Delegation of duties

I am back at work, in full swing. After a quiet winter, on the “work front”, I rejoined the ship a couple of weeks ago, and have been up to my ears in work. Partly because the massive mess left by the crews, and their lack of professionalism, working over the winter months on various projects – main engine rebuild, 2 new generators, pipework, etc etc. We are almost all set to sail. The boat is in fine shape for the upcoming season and I don’t expect any major issues to creep up on the horizon – finally.

Currently we are going through a process that some of you may be familiar with, it is called “delegation” or as it is officially know, “Delegated Statutory Inspection Program”. It is a process where Transport Canada (TC) delegates its responsibility of the oversight of a vessel, to an approved class, Lloyd’s Register in this case. I believe this is relatively common for “flags of convenience” nations, but it is a somewhat new approach for Transport Canada. Pretty much all inspections and issuance of certificate, once delegations is approved, will be handle by class. TC reserves the right to drop in, from time to time, to check up on the system. They will still make annual inspections, but the scope of these will be limited and or akin to a Port State Control inspection.

Obviously this simplifies life for many. On a convention ship operating in Canada, the amount of duplicity of the processes were enormous, and sometimes trying, so ultimately the owner / operators will gain from a simplified process. I will only have to deal with one organization during rebuilds and modifications, which will certainly make my life easier.

I believe this style of oversight is well inline with the Government – Transport Canada’s objectives, which I believe is to shed as much responsibility for errors as possible, so as to prevent any embarrassing criticism of the government later on – at least that’s my take on it.

I don’t think deregulation is an appropriate words to use for this situation, but it is a strange thing to be responsible for safety, yet not manage the risk yourself. It is not without precedent, but I do see some issues arising from two business entities, class and the owners, self regulating to some degree. Undeniably, there will always be some form of economical pressure exerted by the parties involved. At some point someone in an office will say, these guys are our clients, or these guys are costing us too much, shop around for a better deal, a more lenient class.

The process of delegation involves a major inspection by TC. Documents and certificates are gone over, historical deficiencies are looked over again, plus the usual walk around inspections for safety and operational condition of the vessel. In our case, three TC were scattered throughout the vessel for two days, while being followed by an additional two inspectors from class. Once completed, TC draws up a list of observations / deficiencies, and then class is tasked to rectify them over a given period. Once class accepts the findings, and agrees to take on the responsibility of the vessel, then TC “withdraws from the picture”, occasionally appearing for the above mentioned inspections, and to follow up on the deficiency list generated at the delegation inspection.

In our case, the inspections revealed fewer than anticipated deficiencies, so that was a relief. But on the other hand, we are not done. I expect we will be “delegated” early next week. All in all, an interesting exercise. I am unsure at this time, due to my perspective, how my number one objective, while working aboard – “make home safely, in one piece”, will be affected by this transition, only time will tell.

You can read more about the program on the Transport Canada website. Here you will find a list of currently delegated vessels, 129 of them (fully and partially delegated), which includes vessels from most major Canadian ship operators, including the Canadian Coast Guard. In the mean time, I attach the definition of delegation below, from Wikipedia.

” Delegation (or deputation) is the assignment of authority and responsibility to another person (normally from a manager to a subordinate) to carry out specific activities. However the person who delegated the work remains accountable for the outcome of the delegated work.

Delegation empowers a subordinate to make decisions, i.e. it is a shift of decision-making authority from one organizational level to a lower one. Delegation, if properly done, is not abdication. The opposite of effective delegation is micromanagement, where a manager provides too much input, direction, and review of delegated work.

In general, delegation is good and can save money and time, help in building skills, and motivate people. Poor delegation, on the other hand, might cause frustration, and confusion to all the involved parties. “

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