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Lost Control, Just Stay in Command: What it Means to be a Ship Captain?

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The previous year witnessed two experienced ship captains being humiliated and eventually criminalized. Accidents, with no evil intentions, were turned into acts of crime. So strong was this perception that even veteran captains and the so called ‘experts’ within the profession found it difficult to understand the ‘erratic’ behaviour and ‘selfish’ actions of the captain in one case, let alone the general public. This analysis is not intended to defend the behaviour of these professionals or make their actions morally acceptable. Professionals have to act mindfully taking responsibly of their actions and directing their behaviour in meaningful ways. Rather, we seek to understand what makes the position of a captain so prestigious, and yet so susceptible in the wake of an accident. Why is it that not only the maritime community but also society at large becomes unforgiving to the captain whose vessel has met with an accident? And most importantly to what extent our existing approach to investigations and inquiries that follows from the accidents influence and shape these ‘unforgiving opinions’ both within the industry and the public domain.

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