During the 2023 SAFETY4SEA Athens Forum, Capt. George Mavrogenis, Marine Manager, Latsco Marine Management Inc., noted that although the increase in technology, the principles of safe navigation remain the same and the human factor a top priority.
arine navigation consists of planning, managing and directing a vessel’s voyage. The main principles of safe navigation are timeless, regardless of the navigation tools used from time to time:
- Prudent seamanship
- Situational awareness
- Professional knowledge and judgement
- Application of science and technology
- Knowledge and implementation of legislations and procedures
Human element in Navigation accident/ One Man error
Around 78% of the investigated navigation accidents is somehow linked to “human action”. The reason why human errors play such a vital role in marine industry despite of excessive mechanization and technical advancement is that even with everything, marine industry remains a people’s industry.
There are machines running on software programmed into a computer but We need a person on that computer to be looking into it. Error on part of that person means the entire chain reaction of errors is put into action ultimately leading to a not-so-good outcome. May it will be the environment or the technology or the entire system of a ship, it all comes down to the interaction with human element involved.
The extensive studies looking into human errors and their implications have categorized few reasons that mostly lead to a mistake somewhere, the top most frequent reason being fatigue.
To sum it up, below are the main reasons for maritime accidents:
- Inadequate Communication
- Lack of general technical knowledge
- Inadequate knowledge of ship’s system
- Automation Error
Is there a way to change or improve this? Of course yes, with smart and innovative actions that will timely set the proper barriers in place.
We must consider that there are professional seaman on board our vessels that have never sailed using paper charts or other physical means of navigation. By using the new technological tools, the situational awareness changes. When it is no longer required to enter a chartroom to fix your position or get oriented by looking at the sky, the whole process of gaining your situational awareness changes, therefore the result cannot be the same anymore.
By embracing and implementing the digitalization process on board our vessels we are able to identify its weak points on an early stage and take targeted actions to put our barriers in place. With the information easy to get, our seafarers gain experience on evaluating information to their advantage instead of blindly relying to them.
With the reduction of workload and paperwork our seafarers have more time to be actively engaged in the Navigation process. Our Short-term plan is smart and digital navigational services / tools aiming to safeguard the ship against one-man error.
Digitalization of passage Plan
Digitalization is already at full speed in maritime industry. Digital technologies and solutions are being used to increase competitiveness and enhance operational efficiency.
The crucial benefit of intelligent digital technologies is better maritime safety. Through improved onboard navigation, the industry is able to reduce collisions and accidents due to human error. With the increasing digitalization and automation of the shipping industry, the future seafarer must master new technology as well as good seamanship.
The ships of the future are based on advanced technology at all levels, and will require different and more technically advanced knowledge and expertise than today’s shipping – be it on board and on shore. The developments of increasing digitalization and automation may offer different and improved job opportunities for the modern seafarers.
The seafarers’ profession may be undergoing a considerable change from a technological perspective, but it will continue to play a vital role in the water transportation of international trade also in the future, on and off shore as Seafaring is one the world’s oldest professions.
Coordination of bridge team and Work load
- Situational awareness. Traditional bridge organization where the Captain is acting as the operator conning the vessel shall be changed.
- The limitations of the traditional system become obvious after analyzing recent accidents, particularly with regard to, the use of human resources and today’s modern equipment. Many accidents have occurred when the Captain has been conning the vessel with a passive bridge team watching and wondering how this will end. They might even have thoughts like; ‘He must know something I don’t??? When the ship runs aground it becomes clear that he didn’t.
- New bridge organization should be based on roles.
- The purpose of the role-based bridge organization is to create a control system with organizational redundancy.
- The captain should act as a leader/manager instead of an operator.
- Training and onboard implementation
Even if officers have been attending a Bridge Resource Management (BRM) course where one of the major learning’s is to develop assertiveness, the ability to speak up if there is a deviation from the plan or any other concern, this has not had impact expected. Many accidents could have been avoided if officers would have had the courage to speak up. In order to avoid this situation new paths must be entered to minimize the risk that a variation in performance within the bridge team would lead to negative consequences.
Bridge team performance variability is inevitable due to the variability of working conditions. No matter how competent the people we employ or how much training we do. This is why a resilient socio-technical system must be created to avoid negative consequences caused by mismanagement of performance variability. The role-based system has all the abilities mentioned to be considered as the cornerstones for a resilient organization, the Bridge Team Members are responsible for responding, monitoring and anticipating, while learning from past experiences is taken care of during the debriefing sessions.
This role-based bridge organization does not in any way diminish the authority and responsibility of the Captain. The Captain continues to maintain full oversight of the bridge and assigns officers to particular roles, based on the watch keeper’s competence and experience with the upcoming operation. The Captain provides ongoing guidance to officers, making it a very adaptable system that leverages the knowledge and experience of the Captain and each of the officers.
Introducing the role based organization makes it possible to move into a higher level of safety and effectiveness as people are using technology in a structured way and work as a coordinated team. Having recognized the major benefits of the role- based bridge organization and new technology procedures, we can confidently say that we are moving in the right direction for the continuous improvement of safe navigation.
A new era of smart shipping is built and this is …e-Navigation!
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes discussion purposes only.