As two members of our group are children of sea captains, the case of Exxon Valdez oil spill was extremely interesting for our team. It demonstrates that irresponsible behavior of people can lead to the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters of the past century. Multiple factors have been identified as contributing to the incident.
In our group’s opinion, the most important are: the captain was drunk being on duty, the third mate failed to properly maneuver the vessel, possibly due to fatigue or excessive workload and finally, the Raycas radar system was broken, because the company found it too expensive to fix it.
To begin with, we think that due to the restricted responsibilities of the crew comparing to the captain, its commitment was relatively low. Therefore the main motivation was their salary and working conditions didn’t play a role.
Probably that is why sailors were ready to work overloaded shifts in order to earn as much as they could, to our mind, despite the fact that physically it was impossible.
Thus the responsible sailor had to assess his ability to steer the ship before beginning the watch – in this case he had no right to do that being too tired. Talking about the captain of the ship, our group found him being the most irresponsible person in this situation. He did not act according to the ethical norms.
Firstly, captain is the person, who is fully responsible for the ship and the crew, but he dared to exceed the allowed norm of the alcohol. Secondly, he had to insist on the radar repair. Finally, he is the one who is responsible for the crew’s adequate performance. Nevertheless, Exxon is fully liable for this disaster and the subsequent oil spill being the owner of the tanker. Hence, in our opinion, the company had to pay for the cleaning up the oil spill. To sum up, our group sees the ethical dilemma only concerning the crew. They had two choices only.
On the one hand, when signing the contract they automatically agree to fulfill their duties, that is why no one can afford to skip the watch even if he fills tired. On the other hand, the third mate had no right to expose to danger the ship and the rest of the crew by taking the watch in unacceptable condition. We would like to add, that despite the fact that this was the most devastating human-caused environmental disasters, it pushed the government to develop new laws in this industry and turned to be a good lesson for the human beings overall.