“I WAS ACTUALLY DEVASTATED.”

Piet Bolt (Captain) looks back at the accident with the Union Lynx last summer.

Piet Bolt joined Smit directly after the nautical college. He has many years of experience in the offshore and with towing. The accident with the Union Lynx is the first one that happened under his leadership, he tells in his living room in Zuidhorn, while his wife is serving coffee and homemade apple pie.

“I was actually devastated”, he says. “It just keeps haunting you; if I had done this or that differently those men would not have got injured. I made a wrong estimate. If I could do it again I would put the head in the wind, or choose another time.”

That is what you say now, but at the time you thought your approach was a responsible one; how do you make such a decision?
“In practice you are all on your own. For this job it was the best approach but the weather remains an uncertain factor. One assesses the situation based on one’s experience and on what the crew think. People must feel safe; otherwise you should not do it at all.”

How do you make sure they feel safe?
“Once I have gathered all of them for the toolbox, I ask them if they are confident about it. If you have a perfectly attuned team they dare to express their opinion. If not, one often sees that people do say ‘yes’, but actually feel a bit reluctant. Sometimes we go and have a look on deck: what do you think of it now? If anyone does not feel right about it, we do not do it.”

Do you think the management relied on your assessment of the situation?
“Well, no one came to tell me I made a mistake, or what I should have done instead. I was actually quite surprised about that.”

So, you are surprised that no one blames you, while you do blame yourself?
“Perhaps, yes. But the most important thing is that it is reported, properly investigated, that lessons are drawn from it and that it can be discussed openly – in line with the values of NINA.”