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Crew competence still a cause for concern

YEARS ago, and long before the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code had banished the casual caller from port premises, two of us were sitting on a pile of railway sleepers in an East Anglian port watching a small chemical tanker arrive. It was a smart, apparently well-kept little ship, with a pilot aboard. It approached the quay with every sign that the berthing would be undertaken speedily and without incident. Then began what can only be described as a comedy routine, as at both ends of the vessel, the crew gave a truly memorable performance of mind-blowing incompetence.

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