||Captain J. W. Dickie
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When starting to write this book, it was important to try to change the layout and content of the subject matter. Key to this was not to make this book the same as others but to engage readers and ask them questions so that they evaluate how their company operates and compare it with the contents of the book. This is not to say that this book gives a perfect answer to all questions, but it aims to encourage ship managers or potential ship managers to question how their company's safety management system (SMS) operates and see if there is room for improvement. How others perceive the proposed improvement may not always be as expected. There may be opposition to the proposal, it may be discarded or it may be supported. The way that it is presented will have a major impact of whether it is accepted or rejected. The most important part of the ship management process is the personnel who perform the work of ship managers. They need to be fully aware of all aspects of the ship management model that the company operates and apply them. A key component of this is the company's SMS, which is required by the International Safety Management (ISM) Code. This code is made mandatory by the Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974, as amended; the particular chapter to be consulted is Chapter IX (Management for the safe operation of ships). What must never be forgotten is that for every company it is people who are its most important asset and resource, whether it is the personnel on board ship or those that work in the offices. The existence of the best SMS in the world means nothing if the people who have to use it do not comprehend it. Also, information technology is wonderful, but it still requires people to use it and operate the systems in its support. Without people, an SMS becomes another set of books lying unread or a set of folders and files in a computer hard drive that lie dormant until someone activates them. The shipping industry is very demanding and it operates 24/7 without breaks. People come and go, but the ships keep operating - if there are no ships there is no company. The people on board ship depend on those ashore to support them, and one of the key personnel and first point of contact can be the ship manager. That is why ship management depends on the interaction of people and not the completion of files and forms.