While speaking at last SMART4SEA Conference, Mr. Frank Coles described the maritime constituency as ‘Citizens Against Virtually Everything’ (CAVE) when it comes to connectivity advances, insisting on adapting to new demands.
Nowadays, while we are talking about big data, energy efficiency and cyber security, I think we are missing an essential element in our discussion: The role of human in all of these.
Our objective should be to create SEEFS, an acronym for Safe Efficient Environment Friendly Ships. There are certainly people trying to achieve this in many areas, but our industry as a whole does not present at the same time a Safe Efficient Environment Friendly concept. Our focus is shifted on technology only, forgetting the background: the infrastructure and the human involvement which are essential.
“Before talking about more technology, we need to think about the available infrastructure and the human interface”
In our industry, I think there are 3 key areas: CAVE, ASS and FOSSILS. In my opinion, these acronyms pinpoint the picture of our industry is about. The CAVE stands for Citizens Against Virtually Everything; it is all about attitude. The ASS, meaning the Archaic Spaghetti Structure, refers to how we do business in this industry today. Lastly, the FOSSIL, in full Fleet Operations Services Stuck in Limbo, represents one important thing that we really miss in the industry: fleet operations. We hear about logistics and blockchain; Maersk recovering from cyber-attack and everyone investing in blockchain, but what about fleet operations?
As explained, the industry is full of CAVE and although we are trying to promote new smart technology, we are confronted by these people who resist to virtually everything. They all live in the ASS creating an impossible environment that we currently have to create game-changing behavior. Our industry bodies are committee-based consensus that in my opinion hinder quality, hinder standardization and, actually, hinder innovation.
ECDIS is an example of an ASS, considering that after years of discussions, there is no standardization and half of the mariners have not been trained on how to use it properly. And those they do, use about 10% of it. But we cannot move forward with innovation and move forward in the new generation with this kind of attitude and behavior. We really need to change both our attitude inside the industry from a shipowners’ perspective and also from our industrial, law-making and regulatory approach. This is imperative; it is going to happen whether we like it or not.
In our industry, our fleet operations continue to operate like a FOSSIL, for which I don’t blame the ship operator entirely, I blame the industry attitude. Think about how many ships have ECDIS onboard, and yet, the crew uses a paper chart. Think about the fact that we should be doing electronic logs, that information should be flowing backward and forward between ship and shore, completely without human touch. Yet, we load more and more technology onboard a ship, we put more and more complexity onboard the ship and then we expect the seafarer to know how to use it, to be trained on how to use it and to continue to do all the paper processes. There are cruise companies, which because of the cost requirements, they have a man to write the paper log everyday, even though there is a fully automated electronic log. But this creates fatigue, which creates incidents, which creates problems. Therefore, we need to standardize, we need to simplify and we need to remove the paper. So, before we begin talking about more technology, we need to think about the infrastructure that we have and to think about the human interface. And ashore, we need to think about the fragmented decision-making and particularly purchasing operations.
“Disruption appeals to next generation”
As we move forward, we should not forget that the next generation is really not interested in the bureaucratic way we behave, disruption appeals to next generation. The current maritime business models do not appeal to them, they are interested for strategy games environment, virtual reality, analytics and a new business world. If we want young people to join the industry, we need to think how to make the industry’s environment more attractive and in line with the new generation.
Another direction is the human factor philosophy. Admiral Rickover (Father of the Nuclear Navy) was insisted on intense focus on the human factor. If you are rigorously trained to avoid mistakes, you detect and correct anomalies before they cascaded into serious malfunction. Namely, the US Department of Defense uses the same approach for cyber threats. Admiral Michael Rogers well said: “It’s about ethos. It’s about culture. How you man, train and equip your organization, how you structure it, the operational concepts that you apply.”
If we are going to be cyber secured and move into the new world, we need to create High Reliability Organizations (HRO) featuring a strict culture of excellence where we will correct deviations before disaster and there will deep awareness of their vulnerabilities. Aviation, ATC, nuclear power plants, the space flight already know one disaster can create catastrophic consequences. Although we many not need to be at the same level as the space flight, we definitely need to think that in order to be cyber secure, we must work towards a high HRO.
Concluding, it is not enough to put technology on top of paper or to buy the latest and greatest so-called “cyber secure solution” or to buy technology of every fleet operation. We have to change our culture, our approach. Therefore, if we are going to have Safe Efficient Environment Friendly Ships, we need to overcome this Archaic Spaghetti Structure, we need to eliminate limbo that exists in fleet operations and we need to create a culture of high reliability, and most importantly, we need to address this human factor attitude.
View Mr. Frank Coles’ presentation during the last SMART4SEA Conference at
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.
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