Spirit of Discovery blog
One of the most important parts of my role is ensuring continuity of skills. What that means in practice is I am able to have a team around me that not only delivers one of the most vibrant cruise products at sea, but also keep the vessel positively powered and safely navigated. The most dynamic part of this is developing our leaders at all levels so they can rise as high as their ambition, desire and ability allow.
Traditionally it has been the area of the ship’s captain to be the one who brings the ship in and out of port. I have sailed with captains over the years who would initially allow myself or another officer to ‘drive’ but if there were an audience (guest, wife, girlfriend, etc.), those in training would get a shove to the side to then see ‘the captain exercise his prerogative’. I was very fortunate to come through the 3rd and 2nd in command ranks with captains who believed their senior officers should have an appreciation for how the vessel gets in and out of port, and were active in developing their teams.
As time went by, and the industry took on more progressive ‘Bridge Resource Management (BRM)’ policies, it became normal for the bridge team to present as an ‘inverted pyramid’, meaning that everyone has a say when it comes to the safety of navigation and it isn’t just a top-down atmosphere dictated by the captain. An essential part of this was the formalisation of training officers to be able to fill all roles on the bridge, including the handling of the ship to and from berths.
Pictured is our Staff Captain, Andrew Makinson, as the vessel finished with engines after entering the port of Gdansk. Andy expertly manoeuvred the ship over 2 miles astern through a buoyed channel and into a river, then eventually alongside under the supervision of the local pilot. He had to negotiate moored vessels and obstructions within our berthing area and did so with very positive control.
As we berthed, the local pilot informed us we had docked next to the spit of land that was fired upon by the German warship Schleswig-Holstein, the first shots of World War II. On it is a monument to commemorate this, and I took a stroll ashore to visit this very significant place and take a quick photo.
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