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SOCP: Preventing sexual harassment in the Merchant Marine

Written by Nick Blenkey
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AUGUST 21, 2017 — The  SOCP (Ship Operations Cooperative Program) has released a Best Practices Guide (BPG) that deals with the prevention of sexual assault, sexual harassment, retaliation, bystander intervention, bullying, hazing, coercion, stalking, and other prohibited behaviors in the U.S. Merchant Marine.

The BPG is designed to identify and share the best practices used by maritime companies of all sizes to implement prevention-and-response policies for such prohibited behaviors in the workplace. SOCP developed the BPG under a cooperative agreement with the Maritime Administration (MARAD) to address issues affecting the shipboard climate in the U.S. maritime industry.

The BPG contains two separate sections for reference and guidance for employees and companies.

The Employee section is designed to provide U.S. merchant mariners and shore-based personnel with meeting their responsibility to be respectful and actively participate in a work environment free of sexual assault, sexual harassment and other prohibited behaviors.

The Company section provides six best practices which should be part of every company’s policy on such behaviors in the workplace, whether onshore or at sea. Existing best practices, policies and procedures are emphasized within each section

The intended audience includes professional merchant mariners on vessels of all types covering all U.S. Merchant Marine segments including oceangoing, coastwise, Great Lakes, inland, harbor, towing, offshore industry, cruise, ferries, dredging, research vessels and government-owned vessels. In addition, these industry best practices apply to maritime operating companies, shipowners and operators; shore-based personnel managing or interacting with merchant mariners, contractors and others who work in the industry.

Other segments of the U.S. maritime industry such as vessel marine agents, pilots, marine terminal personnel, longshoremen, personnel working in U.S. ports, shipbuilding and ship repair industry personnel, as well as contractors, subcontractors, and vendors interacting with merchant mariners should all be made aware of these best practices.

“The U.S. Merchant Marine aggressively promotes a culture where sexual assault, sexual harassment and other prohibited behaviors cannot exist. SOCP suggests the widest distribution of this Best Practices Guide to the industry. We strongly recommend that SOCP members and the maritime industry continue the dialogue and spread the word about the importance of these issues. These ongoing efforts will allow us to continually improve and revise these best practices in our ongoing efforts to ensure a culture free of sexual assault, sexual harassment and other prohibited behaviors,” said Patricia Finsterbusch, President, SOCP

The Ship Operations Cooperative Program (SOCP) is a non-profit organization of maritime industry professionals working together to improve the safety, productivity, efficiency, security, and environmental performance of U.S. vessel operations. SOCP collaborated with its members which include U.S. shipowners and operators, maritime unions, academies, training institutions, government agencies, and others, to solicit recommendations on the content of the best practices for the U.S. Merchant Marine industry. SOCP has provided its maritime industry expertise and guidance in creating these best practices for the U.S. Merchant Marine.

Download the BPG HERE


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