This chapter was established to address aspects of behavior and the physical ability of individuals, which may have an impact on the overall safety of the vessel and other embarked personnel. Though not necessarily regulatory in nature, these items are important to address as part of the RVSS because of the potential impact on safety to others.
All UNOLS Vessels will comply with U.S. Coast Guard regulations related to drug and alcohol testing specified in 46 CFR 16 and 49 CFR 40 in order to minimize the use of intoxicants and to promote a drug free and safe work environment.
It is the policy of UNOLS, as approved by the UNOLS Council, that all UNOLS vessel operators shall ban the consumption of alcoholic beverages on board UNOLS vessels by crewmembers or embarked members of the scientific party, except as provided below.
Certain exceptions can be approved in writing by institutional management for the purpose of allowing the possession and consumption of alcohol on board UNOLS vessels while in port for receptions, special occasions and entertainment of visiting dignitaries. Participation by ship’s crew in these events shall take into consideration scheduled time of sailing and the need for full sobriety at the time of departure.
Possession of alcohol on board UNOLS vessels by crewmembers or embarked members of the scientific party is prohibited, with the exception of transport in bond under the control of the Master as allowed by institutional policies and at the discretion of the Master.
Each vessel operator is committed to maintaining a positive working and learning environment, and an environment free of illegal discrimination and harassment according to their own institution’s policies. Vessel operators shall consult with the appropriate persons at their institution to ensure they are in compliance regarding crew training, posting of information, and the proper procedures to follow in the event a harassment situation arises on board.
This subject shall be covered in the vessel’s Safety Briefing; in particular, the fact the operation is committed to maintaining a harassment free environment, and what resources are available to individuals when at sea. Appendix E of this manual may be printed and made available to the science party, as the operator deems appropriate. Release forms should include information on harassment policies and an indication that the person signing the form has been informed of these policies.
By virtue of the “Oceanographic Research Vessel Act” (ORVA), 46 USC 2101, research vessels are considered under U.S. law to be a special class of sea-going platform. The RVSS contends that research vessels are not “public accommodations” as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and are therefore exempt from these regulations. However, as in many areas, UNOLS operators should strive to set the example for our industry by making every reasonable accommodation with regard to sailing with disabled crew and scientists as long as safety is not compromised.
Many of the requirements given in shore-based building codes, and even those for Passenger Carrying Vessels are simply not possible on research vessels due to space and cost constraints – particularly on older or smaller vessels. However, many accommodations are reasonable and should be considered by the Federal agencies and the operating institutions as new vessels are brought on line.
UNOLS has developed and approved “American Disabilities Act (ADA) Guidelines for UNOLS Vessels”, which are available on the UNOLS website. It should be noted that many of the design and outfitting features for the hearing and vision impaired might also improve safety for everyone on board the vessel.
There are many inherent dangers associated with going to sea. Some of the obstacles for the disabled are inherent to the design of the ship. However, most are procedural on the part of the operator – or can be overcome, at relatively reasonable costs, with small modifications or the addition of minor equipment.
The key to making reasonable accommodations is prior planning. The ship’s Master and shore-side personnel need the opportunity to consider all of the ramifications and to ensure that adequate procedures can be put in place. It is highly recommended that Pre-Cruise Planning Questionnaires specifically ask about scientists with disabilities – much like asking about special dietary needs.
It is also recommended that the Master or Marine Superintendent be frank in discussing the reality of going to sea and the additional risk that the individual may be accepting. They should also realize that “personal dignity” – though easily maintained ashore -- might have to be sacrificed, because of the physical limitations of the vessel or in an emergency situation. Individuals may not be able to use their own equipment (such as standard wheel chair)s and may have to use equipment more suitable, or specially designed, for the marine environment.
The following is a list of the items that should be considered by the operator when working with a disabled scientist who accepts the personal risk and chooses to go to sea:
It is the ultimate responsibility of the vessel’s Master to determine if it is safe to embark ANY individual on a scientific mission – regardless of whether or not they are disabled.
The following is a list of simple accommodations, which the operator might find helpful: