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‘Commodore, Stop Mashing Our Boats’

HMBS Rolly Gray.

HMBS Rolly Gray.

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PM meets Defence Force Commodore

Two of nine new vessels non-operational after groundings

COMMODORE Tellis Bethel has indicated that seven of the nine Damen-built vessels acquired between May 2014 and July 2016 for the Royal Bahamas Police Force are operational.

Two are non-operational because of groundings and a third vessel, HMBS Leon Livingstone Smith, is being prepared for a scheduled dry-docking.

Arrangements are being made for HMBS Rolly Gray, damaged on Sunday, to be assessed.

In early 2016, HMBS Cascarilla experienced a “less severe grounding” costing $23,000, Commodore Bethel indicated.

Meanwhile, the cost to repair HMBS Durward Knowles, which ran into a jetty in November 2016, was $153,000, though the RBDF paid a $75000 deductible.

In view of these incidents, Commodore Bethel has said plans are being finalised for the installation of a $1.6m, state of the art marine bridge simulator to facilitate advanced navigational, ship handling and refresher training for RBDF seagoing officers. This is expected to occur in July.

The information was released to the media yesterday after a video went viral of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis admonishing Commodore Bethel about the incidents, as he greeted him before the conference.

Asked about the public’s reaction to the clip during yesterday’s press briefing, Press Secretary Anthony Newbold said: “If they can navigate, they need to navigate properly... Bottom line is we all want our men in uniform, certainly those men patrolling the seas, to have the wherewithal and the capacity to do their jobs, which is to patrol the seas.”

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

A CLIP has gone viral of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis admonishing Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Tellis Bethel about marines “mashing up” defence force vessels, adding that officers must “learn to navigate”.

The comment came after a set of propellers on HMBS Rolly Gray was damaged on Sunday morning after the boat departed Coral Harbour, the third time such an incident has taken place in the last six months.

Yesterday, Commodore Bethel, through information provided to Press Secretary Anthony Newbold, said the commanding officers of two vessels involved in recent incidents have been reassigned.

He also revealed that the cost of repairing HMBS Arthur Dion Hanna which sustained damage to its port shaft and gear box in November 2017, was $1.5m.

“The RBDF will be responsible for all payments, with subsequent claim to be submitted to the underwriters, less than $75,000 deductible,” Commodore Bethel noted. “Bradford Marine (a ship repair company) has advised that the repairs to HMBS Arthur Dion Hanna will not be completed before the end of the calendar year due to lead time required for certain components. Once parts are in hand, repairs will take no less than four weeks.”

In the wake of the incidents, Commodore Bethel stressed seasoned boaters know the ocean can be a very “unforgiving” environment.

“While officers and marines of the RBDF must be held accountable for the costly maritime assets entrusted to their care, it should be appreciated that the greater the number of patrols at sea, the more likely it is for an incident to occur,” he said.

In total, three of nine Damen vessels, built in the Netherlands as part of the Sandy Bottom Project under the Christie administration, have experienced “groundings resulting in propeller damages with a total out of pocket expense to the RBDF being $198,000,” Commodore Bethel indicated.

As for the viral cell phone video, it began as Dr Minnis entered the Paul Farquharson Building at the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s headquarters on East Street Monday to open a Freedom of Information Act workshop.

He shook the hands of several officials on his way to Commodore Bethel, including Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson. He shook Commodore Bethel’s hand and said: “Commodore, I hear y’all still mashing up our boats hey? Your fellas need to know how to navigate.”

Commodore Bethel barely registered a response and appeared flustered while Commissioner Ferguson, standing next to him, chuckled.

Dr Minnis’ public relations team regularly streams his public appearances through his Facebook page. It’s not clear, however, where this clip originated.

Bahamians had mixed reactions on social media to the clip, with some believing Dr Minnis was disrespectful for saying the comments in a public setting, while others felt the reprimand was warranted.

The encounter became the subject of internet memes with one artist quickly releasing a song based on the exchange.

‘Red flag’

National Security Minister Marvin Dames, nonetheless, told The Tribune the interaction was not meant for “public consumption.”

“It was a private comment made to the commodore,” he said. “If you listen, it wasn’t ‘hey man what the heck you doing?’ He was greeting him. There was no ill-intent there but we recognise we’ve had a few incidents in the last year and I think there were some the previous year and so that’s a red flag. We need to find out what’s causing these incidents and what we need to do to prevent them in the future. We can’t afford to continue having them.”

Mr Dames said Sunday’s incident is still being investigated. “A determination will be made at the end of the investigation as to what happened and what needs to take place,” he said. “Generally, the captain is relieved until the investigation is complete and the determination is made as to what was the cause.”

Mr Dames could not say how much it will cost to repair the vessel. However, the same vessel, HMBS Rolly Gray, sustained damage to its propellers in a February incident after running aground near Ragged Island. The cost to replace the propellers was $64,000. Commodore Bethel said this was paid by the RBDF because it was below the $75,000 insurance deductible amount.

“The commanding officers of both vessels have since been reassigned and additional maritime training programmes are being instituted for ongoing professional development of all sea-going officers,” Commodore Bethel said.

Meanwhile, Mr Dames said every incident must be considered on their own merit.

“We have to look at each accident on its own merit to determine whether it is human error by the officers or whether it is just an accident,” he said. “This will certainly, and the commodore and I have had some discussions around this, there’s a definite need for us to know what we need to do and we’ve been getting along with it.”

He said: “It’s clear from some of these incidents that we have to build capacity and improve training and exposure for our officers. We have very good officers but the question is now capacity. Do we have sufficient engineers to maintain the vessels for example? We find ourselves having to go outside to ensure that we are able to access the experience necessary.

“Training is the key and that is why as a government we say we will focus on the human resource and training because it makes no sense spending hundreds of millions on equipment,” he said. “I’m not saying accidents won’t happen, but it would minimise the chances of these accidents happening when we focus more on human resource and capacity.”

Comments

DDK 6 months ago

Let those that cause the damage pay for the damage, not The People! Are those vessels not equipped with depth/echo sounders? Of course we are working on the assumption that those at the controls can read!

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Sickened 6 months ago

Lol! That assumption is making an ass out of you and me.

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The_Oracle 6 months ago

This is the inevitable result of your "able seamen" not being able but being landlubbers slotted into Government jobs. I'm sure there are more than a few who serve via their love of the sea, as I once had aspirations to do, being of the requisite age when the RBDF was formed. In that, as in any other civil service hierarchy, i'd probably still be swabbing decks! I Laud the concept of the RBDF, but lament the competency. The P.M's comment should be taken seriously. Those who would criticize his comments are no doubt those who would give every child an award regardless of accomplishments.

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TalRussell 6 months ago

Most Comrade 91,409 red shirts voting reds to govern are left clueless where the PM gets such utter nonsense repeatedly leave he mouth since 10th May 2017..... thinking his lazing ways talking as we PM might just has something do his jet setting off and away colony to hang around with Her Majesty. The very idea of the 91,409 acknowledging publicly where they ever got idea this bunch red shirts were ready govern is exhausting their minds. The fisherman's from Cooper's Town Papa Hubert has go beyond retirement call duty makes decision come out retirement for a year to rescue his beloved red shirts party from a man's not academically suited talkin full makes sense sentences.{ I didn't make none above up }.Must check power rests up at Mount Fitzwilliam of governor general to summon to dismiss a PM on grounds not being academically suited speak makes sense sentences?

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DDK 6 months ago

All this talk of well-composed sentences coming from you, Comrade?!!!!?

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TalRussell 6 months ago

Ma Comrade DDK, was speaking in the 91,409 persons left feel foolish ever thinking the people surrounding the robot Minnis would be the country's assurances the governing red ship would sell smoothly for the first year until the party's power brokers could get around to Minnis replacement to see the party through to rungin 2022 general election bell... I guess they now knows a poorly performing opposition leader does not make for a PM - even if just 12 months period.

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DDK 6 months ago

Ah! Thanks for the 'edification'!

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DonAnthony 6 months ago

Is it too much to ask to have competent captains, well trained? I would suggest recruiting a few captains from Spanish Wells. Once went on a pitch black night with a Spanish Wells captain from Spanish Wells to Harbour Island on an emergency trip to pick up a sick person. He navigated the devil’s backbone while traveling 40 mph flawlessly. I believe he could have almost done it blindfolded. It was amazing. We have captains of our RBDF boats that can not navigate a dredged Harbour in broad daylight!

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John 6 months ago

When the cruise ships arrive at Nassau Harbor, a Bahamian captain boards the vessel and with the assistance of tug boats, safely navigates the ship to its docking pier. The same thing happens when the ships are leaving the harbor and probably happens in every port the ship visits. Most of the damage happens to the Defense Force vessels either when they are in shallow water or leaving or entering port. Well some may argue that that is only logical since there is nothing out there on the ocean for these vessels to collide with and become damaged. So then the Force may need to change its protocol for ships entering and leaving the base or operating in shallow water. Of course speed is almost always a factor. And the slower a vessel is when it collided or hits a reef, the less likely the damage. And at the airports major aircraft are hooked up to a tractor that pushes the aircraft away from the gate then slowly pulls it toward the runway. Only then are the jets engines started and it goes on its way. So maybe in the absence of more competent captains and capable crew, the Defense Force needs to invest in small ‘run arounds’ to assists it’s larger ships in and out of harbour.

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joeblow 6 months ago

The PM should understand that what he wants from the commodore (proper leadership) is exactly what the Bahamian people expect from him and when they don't see it they will complain too! After all, the PM works for the people!

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TheMadHatter 6 months ago

Sounds like the Commodore and Dames are upset with "the greater the number of patrols at sea" catching too many Haitian sloops.

Should they both be tried for treason and hung by the neck in Rawson Square if found guilty?

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TalRussell 6 months ago

Ma Comrades, wouldn't it be much cheaper closeup shop at coral harbor to selloff our boats to negotiate deal new King soon taking over Buckingham Palace to have His Majesty's Royal Navy patrol colony islands waters.... more so since they're done out in our waters as we speaks.

Comrade Tal file photo: Prince Charles inspecting Royal Guards at Fort Charlotte.

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Sickened 6 months ago

I can only assume that the ships are run aground intentionally. Maybe so they don't have to go on patrol, maybe so Hatians can land easier, maybe the captain just doesn't know what those little numbers on the maritime chart mean.

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DDK 6 months ago

Sadly, all of the above are possible!

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joeblow 6 months ago

Why shouldn't they since there are no repercussions!

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cx 6 months ago

Sounds like they need to quickly get the satellite bases/fuel depot in Inagua and Ragged Is operational and get smaller vessels to patrols those waters. I have not heard anything of the 100 ft vessels grounding only the larger 140 ft boats. The Bahamas is not a easy country to navigate and patrol by sea. They should sell off those two big 200ft they have been having problems with forever and get some of the small 80 ft boats to patrol those areas.

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bogart 6 months ago

WRONG CHOICE OF VESSELS FOR VARIOUS TYPES OF OPERATIONS....need the right tools for the job.... The appropriate vessel must be used, equipment, skilled manpower, shallow sandbanks moving, deep water, long range, short patrols, fuel, supplies prpvisioning, logistics, backups, spares, etc. The use of water jet propulsion is also a choice along with acquisition/use of other auxilliary suport drones, radio controlled craft, satellite, additional bases etc. Whatever did happen to those huge vessels that couldnt fit into the navy Coral Harbour base??...falls right back to the taxpayers to pay

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months ago

Imagine the helm of a sophisticated multi-million dollar sea vessel being in the hands of a D - educated individual who can barely swim! It's pretty much like the navigation of our country being in the hands of Minnis!!

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Porcupine 6 months ago

Well said. Sad but true.

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joeblow 6 months ago

I thought they used some screwed up logic to say that a D was really a C!

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hrysippus 6 months ago

REPRINT COS IT IS STILL RELEVANT.

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force,.............. .... Seems to have trouble setting a course, ....... .. .... A course to avoid hitting rock, cay or reef, ..... .. ... .... To prevent their propellers coming to grief, .... ... .. Ragged Islands the one that causes most pain, . ... ... It seems to get hit again and again, . .......... .. .... ... It will take several million to fix up this boat, . ... ... To patch up her bottom and keep her afloat, ............ .. .... Handheld GPS doesn't cost very much, . .. .... Then we wouldn't be having to bother the Dutch, ......... . I'm thinking these Dutch build a very nice craft, .. .... But for patrolling the Banks they've got too much draft, ......... ... Combine that with a slack skipper and crew, ........... ...... ... And we end up with a troublesome brew.

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John 6 months ago

Midday-tak-yea u really sick...a D average students cannot join the armed forces so stop being ignorant. O I forget you can’t stop that because it is you.

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licks2 6 months ago

a "D" average? I was thinking it before you said it. . .but then I remember that he/she does make sense when they put they mind in gear and not talk politics!

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John 6 months ago

And another factor that comes into play is the ‘seniority ‘ structure of the Force. An officer can achieve rank rather quickly but after officers gain a wealth of knowledge and experience, they are almost forced into retirement because there is only one Commodore and the force will become top Heavy. So the creation of mini bases in Inagua, Exuma Grand Bahama and even Abaco may allow the force to spread its talent around and hold on to its senior and more experienced officers longer.

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OMG 6 months ago

Funny, maybe its a reflection of the education in this country starting with pre school all the way up to High school. I know that some of the teachers themselves can't write properly, can submit colorful and detailed lesson plans but can't teach their subject for sh-t. Many are promoted because their face fits or they are in the right party. We have too many subjects at Primary school and students who enter high school unable to read, write of do basic arithmetic. Some teachers think that lesson time is their time to preach the gospel. All these factors lead to ill educated students leaving school. There are exceptions and usually because that lucky student has parents who themselves have disciplined standards. One more point. If a stranger to the Bahamas can navigate these waters without all these costly errors of judgement then why cannot our native born do the same. Maybe its the casual know it all attitude that has an effect.

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bogart 6 months ago

Somewhere the mathematical abilities should be raised in that the audit by Mr Bastian did reveal that the starting salary was supposed to be $18,800 but a nomber of seamen were only receiving $18,000. I believe yhiis was an audit some months ago where a query was raised on some company. Another tactic in securing our borders should be to also reconfigure captured vessels suitably and use them.

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John 6 months ago

OMG your comments about teachers are way off base. This country produces some of the better teachers and nurses worldwide. Nurses are recruited even before they graduate and the only reason more teachers are not recruited abroad is because of their heavy accent. And while many like to point out that the national average is a ‘D’, that is equivalent to a ‘C’ under the American grading system. Most students who go abroad to college from here end up being 3 and 4 grade point students and the reason why many don’t return is because of the vast opportunities and great offers abroad. Hence the great brain drain in this country. And the foreign Mega yachts the size of the Defense Force vessels that visit the Bahamas hire crews with many years of experience traveling world wide. The payroll for their crew is probably 10 times what the pay is on a Defense Force boat the same size. And sometimes they do have wrecks and damage. Hence the ship repair facility in Grand Bahama is not only always busy but also expanding.

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hrysippus 6 months ago

If Johnboy thinks that This country produces some of the better teachers and nurses worldwide" then he needs to either travel a little or do some research. The educational requirements to become a certified teacher in this country are way lower than those required by any of the European counties. Certainly true for japan and South Korea. Stop drinking before you write your posts, Johnboy, I did and look at how much more sense I make now.

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educateme 6 months ago

Sorry to digress from the topic at hand. As in all professions, there are some bad apples in the public education system. Research by UNESCO has revealed that public education teachers are far better trained than many in the private system. The minimum qualification for MOE teachers is a Bachelor's Degree with a Teaching Certificate. There are so many variables that affect the results of National Examinations for all schools. While private schools have a selected group of students, public schools educate the masses. To enter any private high school, an entrance examination is taken...thus the school accepts the best that pass their exam. Public schools accept all...no selection at all allowed! If only we would refrain from comparing apples and oranges. Before you complain and critique...go and spend a day in the classroom of a public school teacher and see that most are hard working individuals who sacrifice much to assist students. Their worth should not just be based on the performance of a student on one day in an examination room. Let us conduct an impromptu survey...what are your GCE O'Levels or BGCSE grades?....many of the chatty ones who criticize and have all the answers are ashamed to even reveal their grades.

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licks2 5 months, 4 weeks ago

Hehehehehehhehehehehehehehehehehehe. . . I'se one er dem chatty ones so. . . PHD level and one ton of post graduate certificates, research projects, and public policy researches etc. . .one of the very best in my field!! Most significant work done overseas!!

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ohdrap4 6 months ago

regardless of the paper requirements to become a teacher, empirically, the dumbest students major in education.

then, at higher levels, smarter people who major in other things and want to be called doctor, realize their area of study is too difficult for a phd, so they get a doctorate in education.

the result is doctors who do not know how to handle a classroom, giving seminars on how to teach math to people who cannot calculate percentages.

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licks2 5 months, 4 weeks ago

I am sure that you have never did a comparative on those countries teachers. . .I guess you best take that drink before you post. . .because John is way "sounder" than you in this case. . .should you not be emphasizing teachers training at the late-high school pre-specialist period?

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Porcupine 6 months ago

John, Nobody forces these guys into the job, no matter the pay. Do your job well, no matter what, or get another job. You seem clueless, John.

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OMG 6 months ago

Well that certainly wouldn't be true of these RBDF captains who seem unable to read a chart or operate a depth finder. Yes world class--NOT.

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Aegeaon 6 months ago

Which brings the question. Why don't we have multiple platoons of marine mechanics that can repair these boats and quickly get them in working order?

This is the problem with National Security. Instead of looking at other country's military structure and the way they do proper work, we keep thinking inside the box. Same retarded garbage from the police having 132 cars functional in Nassau, and over 400 other vehicles either rendered permanently broken or undergoing repairs.

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sheeprunner12 6 months ago

There is a very expensive correlation behind the wrecked Police cars and the wrecked RBDF boats .......... leadership, accountability, training, & due care and attention. ........ All this while we do not have medicine in the clinics and furniture in the schools.

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Aegeaon 6 months ago

I can still tell many people of one simple term that governments cannot deny or ignore. The matters of law enforcement and military cannot be neglected, or else the administration suffers punishment from lowly thugs that should had been arrested or killed. It's expensive but it is worth the risk to ensure safety for citizens and visitors.

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TheMadHatter 6 months ago

Sounds like a wonderful country we have here to procreate and have children in. I think i will go ahead and have a dozen and when they turn 18 and ask me for advice i will just tell them "It's Better in the Bahamas." Now go scratch.

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TalRussell 6 months ago

Ma Comrades, talk ain't so cheap when it involves public purse wasted investment over billion dollars replace what Royal Navy were ruling our colony islands waters and for free. Those criticizing public talkin bout PM utterances to the Commodore, need ponder it was the PM's own media staff who were recording and filming the PM. We simply can no longer afford budgetary costs for we colony remain under flag full Independence. When the very first action taken by Minnis on the very day he walked into PM's was to hire Acee who in return hired another 20 media staff on the public purse. This is the PM's own people willing to expose the utterances PM. { Even the world media is learning direct mouth this Imperial red shirt PM - how broke and corrupt he thinks whole nation is }.

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Gotoutintime 6 months ago

At least they haven't run over anybody and killed them lately!

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bahamas12345 6 months ago

The navigation equipment needs to be turned on to work, or better yet still in the vessel and not there own boat or a friends.

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TheMadHatter 6 months ago

John please stop the silly C equivalent to D argument. We could easily adjust our grading system so it aligns with civilized countries where we seek to obtain higher education. The Govt simply refuses to do so in a bid to be "independent" - just like we have emergency 919 instead of 911. Sillyness.

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bogart 6 months ago

Simple - mate the education of these riverboat pilots to mark twain so that they will not run aground. (tie a weight on yer line and drop in in water and use the 12 foot mark to gauge if your boat can go through there ) lol

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DDK 6 months ago

Trouble is they will still have to: 1) remember and 2) bother - to carry out the exercise!

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infoseeker 6 months ago

Everyone throws out the "D" average argument like everyone is supposed to do well in a school setting to be qualifies as a "smart" person. I am one who differs from this belief, as I know lots of "D" average people who were actually geniuses in their own right. A "D" average student can go on to become the best captain we have ever seen, I can attest to this as I know of a few very good pilots who were not very book smart in school but are masterful at their craft. We need to stop this painting everyone with the same brush kind of teaching and realize that everyone learns differently and can become anything they wish even with a D average, we are all good at something and we need to just figure out what that is. I wouldn't discourage any non performing students from going into certain fields, because it still boils down to proper training. Training is key in any and everything we do, "D" average people do just well driving cars don't they? If not we would have a whole lot more chaos on our streets.

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Porcupine 5 months, 4 weeks ago

I agree with the thrust of your argument. Everyone is a genius at something. The problem here is that we do not encourage anyone to do better, to find their genius. We put them down until they give up. The evidence surrounds us daily.

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bogart 6 months ago

.....you cant tek dem fer real cause dey know the Defence Force have stanfsrds. If you want to talk navigating and success in terms of money makkng....jus look at all dem Haishun navigators sailing 500 DOLLARS OF wood caulked with ? an sails of advertising ffabric from street sailing around all areas 3 days in all weather wid 100 passangers who pay some 2,500 dollats each and landing on Adelaide every august, every christmas and anytime....now dats navigation and sailing an making money but its illegal.

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