An excellent standard of seamanship is more difficult to achieve and maintain against the issues of reduced sea time, accelerated promotion and little opportunity to practise. This was the message today (Wednesday) at the launch of the 12th edition of The Admiralty Manual of Seamanship, authored by the Royal Navy and published by The Nautical Institute.
“Seamanship issues between navy and merchant service are not very different these days, ” said Captain Robert McCabe FNI, President of the Institute. “Cuts to both services mean that ancillary staff, including cooks and stewards, find themselves part of the mooring party with less training than the able seaman. For the officers in charge, the emphasis in training is on technology and weapons rather than seamanship.
“The lack of seamanship skills was a topic that featured strongly in the Command seminar series the Institute held around the world last year, and I suspect the topic will also feature in the next five-year plan that the Institute is about to poll its members on.
“This makes the 12th edition a timely publication, ” he continued, “and you can be sure that the Institute will be playing its part in promoting these skills. Most of our mentoring efforts are specifically targeted at building seamanship skills.”
Author Vic Vance said: “This publication is a valuable resource for all seafarers, whether on naval ships, commercial vessels or leisure craft and is a useful addition to the bridge library of every modern ship.”
He added that the 12th edition “retains the principles and underlying knowledge gained through years of experience from both collaborators, which is of great importance to the whole maritime community.”
Mr Vance is a retired Royal Navy Warrant Officer Seaman Specialist, with more than 30 years experience in the maritime industry.
Speaking at the launch, David Parry from the Institute of Seamanship commented that: “The content may have changed but the principles of good seamanship endure. That is what The Admiralty Manual of Seamanship gives us. By use, by time, by revision, by clarity of expression and illustration its explicit authority makes it the de facto bible of the sea; a must for those who go down to the sea in ships.”
Jack Greenhalf of the Sea Cadets reflected on training for seamanship: “The Admiralty Manual of Seamanship is not only the guardian of the highest standards, but also the safest practices. But of course high standards and safe practice do not just wander on deck when invited. The Admiralty Manual of Seamanship has been there guiding previous generations of Sea Cadets, just as the new edition is launched for a brand new seafaring generation.”
Paul Whyte of London Offshore Consultants Ltd (LOC) added: “Good seamanship has a broad significance in terms of the safe operation of ships as it is woven into the fabric of all shipboard activities. Fundamentally this means preparing the ship for sea and keeping her seaworthy. It is a top-down and bottom-up mind-set and proactive behaviour that protects the ship, her crew and the environment against the perils of the sea.”
In his Foreword to the book, Vice-Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB, pointed out that: “This revision comes at an exciting and evolutionary time for the Royal Navy. The introduction of the next generation of ships and submarines, including the Daring Class destroyers, Queen Elizabeth Class carriers and Astute Class submarines necessitates that the seamanship lessons are already widely in use to reflect new technology and procedures.” He commended the book as “of vital importance to all seafarers”.
Captain McCabe concluded: “The fundamental principles of good seamanship are unchanging, whatever technology is introduced and I’m proud that this publication, which should be on the bridge of every vessel, is there to help fill in any gaps in training or experience.”