Seattle-based Windstar Cruises (Windstar), which operates a three-ship fleet of luxury yachts is taking an innovative approach to ship safety and security management by selecting an independent company, BMT Group Ltd (BMT), to provide the company's Designated Person Ashore (DPA) and Company Security Officer (CSO) "“ functions required as part of the International Safety Management Code and the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code.
Windstar formally took all ship management functions in-house on September 6, 2009, including ship board deck, engine, and hotel operations, as well as shore-based management functions such as port operations, technical and hotel purchasing, and human resources. New positions were created at Windstar's headquarters in Seattle to manage the new responsibilities. Previously the Windstar Fleet had been operated by a full-service ship management company.
For the positions of DPA and CSO, which are normally assigned within a ship operator's management organization, Windstar sought a new and highly innovative alternative solution. "Because the DPA and CSO are expected to be completely independent of ship operational management, we feel that a trusted third party like BMT will provide an objective view of the safety, environmental, and security aspects of Windstar fleet operations," said Captain Nico Corbijn, Windstar Executive Vice President, adding "we also felt that we could meet this international requirement more cost-effectively by engaging BMT rather then permanently increasing our staff here at Windstar."
Important to this new approach is the background and credibility of the third party. Through its global network of consulting companies, BMT was able to quickly identify and assign two highly qualified individuals with a wealth of relevant experience. The Designated Person Ashore will be Captain Scott James, long-time compliance manager with Disney Cruise Line, while the Company Security Officer will be Captain Rich Softye (USCG retired), formerly Vice President with Holland America Line and maritime security consultant with Pinkerton Securitas. Scott Staron, Head of BMT's Passenger Shipping Services stated: "We were happy to offer this critical service to our long-time customer Windstar, as it is directly in line with BMT's emphasis on independence and integrity."
On the regulatory aspects of this strategy, Captain Corbijn added: "The intent of the International Safety Management Code, as well as the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code is to create a separation between operational management and compliance oversight. Smaller companies quite often have one single person assigned for each function. Windstar's new approach truly creates a clear distinction between the operator and the auditor. We believe this innovative look at regulatory compliance might be applicable to other operators in a similar position, and we are happy to work with BMT on this pioneering concept."