You've got one actual incident that you've observed, the rest being anecdotal. Oh, I forgot the container ship on Buzzard's Bay, a place I have never seen a container ship, a place that virtually no container ship would have an interest in going-and it must have been a pretty small ship too!
It is not the point of watch-keeping to which I object, it is the broad and somehow authoritative brush with which you paint, when, in fact, you have just about zip for actual knowledge of how affairs are conducted on board merchant ships. Case in point, it would not be at all unusual for you to not see anyone in the wheelhouse of a container ship. The bridge deck is at least twenty feet deep and, at seventy feet or more above the water, I'd be amazed at how you could see anyone on the bridge. The mate on watch could be five feet abaft the window and you'd never see him.
Your assertions do not pass the smell test either. We've got a $100 million ship laden with $50 million in cargo, with a mate on watch who has years of education and, at a minimum, has sat through a week long USCG exam where the relavent section's passing grade is 90%, and he is very well paid as well as very knowledgeable of the fact that if he collides or runs aground-he'll most likely be held liable as he is the professsional. And you purport to tell us that many of them do not keep a good watch.
I will cut you some slack by acknowledging that you don't see very many deep sea ships in your neck of the woods. The longshoremen and inland congestion put the kibosh on Boston as a thriving port many years ago. The smaller the ship, the less rigorous the training.
And, I will admit that accidents happen. But, I do think if you're fair you'll be forced to admit that most keep a good watch; far better than the average boater, sail or power.
“Scientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it.”
Wm. F. Buckley, Jr.