Make Yourself Comfortable with the “F” Word

NL 51 the “F” Word

Capt Mazlan
Capt M H Hamzah, Senior Lecturer
Advanced Nautical Studies,
Malaysian Maritime Academy

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” Paul Boese

I’m not going to my grave with grudges! That is a promise I made to myself upon returning from a funeral of a former shipmate.

Ship operations are a team effort. Each and every member contributes to the success of the operations. No individual department can claim that they are doing the most important task hence deserve more attention.

Ships are getting bigger in size, sophistication is the buzz word on the bridge, manning is decreasing and yet we still need to maintain visual lookout. Imagine a situation whereby the ship is sailing out with a newly joined officer in a busy waterway. He might be familiar with the surroundings, but not the ship. However, everyone is expected to perform–no excuses. After a busy day in port, the master will not stay on the bridge unless called for. The young officer is alone on the bridge and some are left with cadets to keep them busy!

People learn better by doing the job. Practice is the mother of all skills. It takes a lot of courage on the master’s part to leave the bridge under the care of a newly promoted, newly joined officer. Call me if you need me, is the best advice you can offer to the watch-keepers.

At 20 knots, watch-keepers must be more than irresponsible if they hit a vessel being overtaken right ahead, in clear visibility. Worse after having processed the information from the Automatic Radar Plotting Aid (ARPA). Call the master if you have any doubt! Electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) is also a vital tool on the bridge to help raise situational awareness by providing real-time positioning of the ship. Watch-keepers are able to relate their ship’s position with other hazards in the vicinity. It is interesting to note that many collisions and groundings that have occurred recently were by vessels equipped with ECDIS? International Safety Management (ISM) Code i.e., the

International Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and Pollution Prevention are central in managing risks at sea. By right, if correctly implemented, the risks now are manageable compared to earlier years. The Code protects both ship and shore-side interest. Companies should ensure, therefore, that the master is given the necessary support in performing his or her job. It is also the company’s duty to man the ships with qualified and certified seafarers.

Keep all the channels open for communication; a good culture is to promote dialogue rather than debate. There are many

stakeholders involved in the daily routine of a ship. The role of a ship’s master is to keep all parties informed. Decisions made in the daily operations of the ship may not be in the interest of some but definitely all decisions are made in the interest of the ship; safety, security, pollution prevention, etc.

Forgiveness is the “F” word. It should be high on the list of a good leader. No matter how sophisticated the ship is, some level of intervention by humans is common. People make mistakes, it is human nature to err. Deal with the issues at hand and move on with life. Do not dwell on problems. Propose solutions instead.

In order to master the self, forgiveness is absolutely necessary. We need to practice it on daily basis, on every occasion– be it routine or an emergency. Just forgive yourself for all the wrong decisions made. Forgive yourself for all the blunders. Forgive yourself for not taking chances. It does not matter whose fault it was, just forgive yourself. It is the first step in realizing your true potential. Remember to keep the “F” word as your legacy.

The “F” word should be introduced in the leadership and management module. Currently, it’s focused mainly on operational requirements. The cornerstone and rock of leader on board ship is forgiveness. Without it, we will be bogged down with issues which will distract the team away from accomplishing the greater good.

Start your day with the “F” word. It is a must if you want to enjoy life fully, joyfully and abundantly. Forgive, forgive and forgive. Just forgive yourself and others. It does not matter where you are today– for tomorrow may never come.

Make yourself comfortable with the “F” word. Someday, you may need it desperately!


Huffington Post: 10 Quotes That Will Inspire You To Forgive And Move On – internet search on 19th October 2015.

Telegraph April 2011 – master’s suicide shocks his union colleagues.


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