The following editorial was written by a source trusted by the editors of gCaptain.com who wishes to remain anonymous due to his close relationship with Carnival.
Carnival Corporation today announced they they will be conducting “comprehensive audit and review of all safety and emergency response procedures across all of the company’s cruise lines”. According to the announcement, leading the review will be Captain James Hunn, “a retired U.S. Navy Captain and currently the company’s senior vice president of Maritime Policy & Compliance. Following a 32-year career in the Navy, Hunn has held senior positions at Carnival Corporation & plc for nearly a decade, focusing on corporate-wide efforts to establish maritime policy standards, while overseeing the company’s health, environmental, safety, and security practices”.
Captain Hunn started his career with Carnival Corporation to oversee the Environmental Compliance Program that was put in place in 2002 as part of a plea agreement with the US DOJ concerning environmental issues. His prior US Navy career, while commendable, does not include service on board merchant vessels of any type, including cruise ships. Since joining Carnival Corporation he has been based in the Corporate offices, arguably removed from the operations of the various cruise lines that make up the Carnival Corporation brand – the individual cruise line operations are run from offices located in California, Washington, Miami, Genoa, and other cities throughout the world.
The point here is that having a Corporate insider who is removed from the operations and is not experienced with the product/service being reviewed, can hardly be considered an independent and objective investigation. Also included in the review, according to the announcement, are “senior health and safety executives” from the Carnival Corporation operating companies. These would be the persons responsible for development, implementation and oversight of the policies and procedures currently in place. Again, the point can be made that this review can not be considered independent and objective.
When the ISM Code came into force in the 1990’s all Cruise Lines found themselves in need of a documented Safety Management System (SMS) as required by the Code. When going through the initial development and implementations of the SMS across their operating companies, Carnival Corporation brought in experienced maritime industry personnel; former Captains, Auditors, Engineers and Surveyors who had real life experience dealing with vessel operations including Bridge Team Management, environmental issues, safety standards, applicable regulations (MARPOL, SOLAS, STCW, etc.) and other areas. This group was responsible for oversight of each operating companies SMS development and implementation to ensure minimum standards were met and to bring issues to light based on their industry experience.
To facilitate change correctly, the group spent much time on the vessels and in the offices of the individual operating companies, and many issues were identified and addressed. About 10 years ago, Carnival Corporation reorganized their internal structure and removed Safety and Environmental reviews from this groups responsibility and replaced many of the experienced industry staff with personnel from the individual operating companies and in Captain Hunn’s case, from the US Navy.
But one question remains: With many of the personnel responsible for overseeing the Safety of the cruise ships in the operating companies being from the operating companies, has Carnival Corporation lost an objective view of the operating culture on board their ships?