I never said that most ships don't keep a good watch... however, there are many that do not... it doesn't detract any from the ones that do keep a good watch...it is just a fact. Many ships don't keep a good watch.
If there are 1000 ships out there, and 30 of them aren't manning a proper watch... then that's is far too many IMHO, especially near a busy port. I've seen too many cases, and don't see any point in trying to convince you of the fact. You've got two actual incidents I've relayed to you. I don't have the time or the energy to convince someone who's mind isn't open. I'm not the only one saying it either...
According to the document Arbarnhart dragged out, it is about 5%... and that is way too many, considering how many ships are out there nowadays.
The good companies and ships aren't the problem... it's the bad ones that you have to worry about... but you can't often tell one from the other from just looking at the ship. Some companies pay their people well and keep the standards of training and skill high, others don't.
Then there are the idiots who just can't help themselves... look at the Exxon Valdez... it's kind of difficult to say that he wasn't well trained or certified... he was a drunk though...which basically negates all the training and certification.
I think part of your problem is that you're too biased, having worked for one of the better companies to understand the reality of it. A lot of companies and ships cut corners... and most of the time it doesn't matter...
While you can't see into the bridge when you're right next to them... if you're half a mile off, looking into the bridge is quite easy with binoculars. I keep a pair in the cockpit... maybe you've heard of them... they're like telescopes, but lower magnification and mounted in pairs.
Last point... I don't believe that foreign flagged ships are held to the same standards of training and certification that US-flagged ships are. Have you spent any time on a foreign owned and flagged vessel??? The majority of the world's shipping doesn't go on US-flagged ships, and their crews aren't USCG certified... Just because the USCG has high-standards, doesn't mean that the other countries do.
Maybe you're being so defensive because you think I'm talking about you... I'm not... and if you're guilty of not keeping a good watch and have it bothering your conscience, that's your problem.
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.