Ask Paul B: SEWOL’s Relatively Inexperienced 25-Year-Old Skipper “Park”

Dear Paul B Readers,

Everyone is now talking about this ferry disaster in South Korea earlier this week. I am sickened by the facts, as they have been trickling out day by day. First and foremost, why does a 25-year-old “third mate,” with practically NO EXPERIENCE steering a vessel of this size, with 400 teens on board, take the wheel? Is this a “Daddy and me trip,” whereas the young lad can see what steering a ship is really like? Many Dads and Moms may take a youngster out driving, shooting, or trapeze walking, but it’s YOUR KID, and it’s YOUR IGNORANCE, right? Lee Joon-Seok, the real captain, 68, took it upon himself to let this 25-year-old to navigate this huge ship through a narrow passage, surrounded by tiny islands clustered closely, and fast currents, which would require a veterans abilities, not a rookie. Is it anyone’s surprise that this ships wheel was “somehow” turned too rapidly, causing the rudders and ships balance to shift unreasonably fast. Ferry’s especially, I have read, are all about balance, maneuvering, speed and “experience.” You won’t see ferry’s traveling 50 knots, no way, because they are inherently top heavy.

Now, we have a situation, and in the era of communication at the highest level, teens are kept in the dark, while the ships captain and mates are baling. This is one pathetic scene, and there is no excuse. Are captains chosen for their “character,” or are there bureaucratic side-bars that choose a “non-heroic type?” Cowards as a ships captain, no doubt a travesty. Honor, commitment, loyalty, compassion and bravery are the essential qualities of this lofty position, no?

Picture yourself, just for a minute, as a parent or sibling of a teen who is still “missing,” on board this ferry. As cruel as it may seem, you wonder why this happened, and why instructions at any point, were not barked aloud on the ferry’s loud speakers. Instead, passengers were only asked to stay calm. The “captain,” who was NOT even on the bridge while the ship was navigating difficult passageways, thought it safer for passengers to stay aboard the ship. Meanwhile, he was one of the first to abandon ship while many of the others, listed as “missing,” breathed their last breath of air aboard the SEWOL.

Costa Concordia survivors say they were told to return to their cabins, like passengers on the sunken South Korean ferry.

April 18, 2014 — Captain of doomed Ferry speaks after being charged by police in connection with the ferry’s sinking. Kyung Lah reports.

CNN’s Pauline Chiou reports that divers have spotted three bodies inside the sunken ferry off the coast of South Korea.

Former Navy Seal Cade Courtley offers his guidance as to the ways in which cranes could be used to stabilize the ferry.

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