SAFETY4SEA: What are currently the biggest navigational challenges for the ship operators from your perspective?

Tor A. Svanes: Challenge is that there are so many factors that must be taken into consideration to plan a safe, economical, efficient route and stay compliant. All this nautical information is spread over many different publications, platforms and applications, so the need to have everything organized, implemented and updated into one single platform is a necessity to be able to plan and execute a safe route and to reduce workload.

Another significant challenge which is of great importance is to be aware of all the growing environmental rules and regulations being issued globally and avoid violations and possible large fines.

S4S: Considering the major maritime accidents (RENA, Costa Concordia, Sewol, El Faro etc) during the last decade, which would be your conclusions on the lessons learned? In your view, where have we succeeded/failed and what needs to be further addressed?

T.A.Sv.: Approximately 80-90 % of all accidents are related to human error (according to Japan P&I Club). The human errors occur due to various reasons, but what we know is that the navigational information is often difficult to access, and the administrative workload for the navigator is huge – spending time to make reports for instance.

The ECDIS mandate has succeeded to reduce the navigational errors by partly improving digital planning. But we need to take full advantage of the possibilities forwarded by e-Navigation solutions and utilize the digital information in one single platform. The relevant information needs to be easily available and updated to save time, reduce the workload and human errors.

S4S: Now that are living in the smart shipping era, what do you consider as a key factor on ensuring safety at sea?

T.A.Sv.: I would say one platform for the exchange of all navigational information. With the increasing exchange of data from vessel to shore, it is a significant advantage to have all relevant information available onboard and onshore, on one single platform. Fleet monitoring onshore can improve situational awareness by sharing data. The fleet center may help to improve decisions which is important for the crew onboard, to reduce human error, save time and workload, and ensuring compliance – which overall will provide increased safety at sea.

S4S: What developments have been implemented to make navigation safer?

T.A.Sv.: The digitalization of shipping has opened up a wealth of benefits in terms of efficiency, performance, process improvement, business insight, and more but it has also increased threat of cybercrime and made it necessary to focus on the cybersecurity issues.

S4S: In 2050, what will be the same and what will be different with respect to navigation at sea?

T.A.Sv.: For safe and efficient navigation, we´ll have to face many of the same challenges as now, when it comes to weather conditions, tides, traffic, crew etc. In 2050 the first autonomous vessels will be

operative, and there will be many vessels with less crew, with monitoring and decision support from shore side through 24/7 manned Fleet Operation Centers.

An additional challenge may be the mix of autonomous vessels with traditional vessels, with a larger number being autonomous. Another challenge for traditional vessels in the future will be crewing and education/training of crew for these vessels.

S4S: Do you think that COLREGS need any revision/ amendments?

T.A.Sv.: Yes. COLREGS has to be amended and adapted to a digital world by being digitized for autonomous vessels. But this is a difficult and challenging process since COLREGS is based on visual observations, – which can be problematic – especially when it comes to heavy traffic situations with many parameters involved.

S4S: What is your wish list for the industry and/or regulators and all parties involved towards enhanced safety of navigation?

T.A.Sv.: Vessel and shore have to work together to enhance safety, efficiency and security. Increased transparency for operations onboard will enhance situational awareness and monitoring the vessel on shoreside will support safety. This will demand one harmonized platform for the exchange of navigational information, leading to simplifying tasks, increasing safety and improving operations.

S4S: If you could change ONE thing to improve navigational safety, the one thing that it would have the MOST immediate and profound impact, what would you change within the industry and why?

T.A.Sv.: Twenty years ago, ECDIS was defined as an “Electronic Chart Display and Information System». If I could go back to change one thing, I would remove the “I” in ECDIS ( Electronic Charts Display & Information System) and focus on navigation and electronic charts. In my opinion, too much information on the ECDIS can jeopardize the safety of navigation, and it should be moved to a planning station.

S4S: What is your key message to ship operators for enhanced safety of navigation?

T.A.Sv.: A good investment for the ship operator is to invest in already existing e-Navigation systems and take full advantage of the possibilities for smarter shipping.


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.

About Tor Svanes, CEO, NAVTOR

Few people have been as instrumental in the paradigm shift that has taken place in the nautical chart industry as Mr. Tor Andreas Svanes. In the late 1980’s he participated in projects who largely defined the development of the ECDIS industry and the international standardization, and in the early 90’s he participated in projects that led to the adoption by IMO of the Performance Standard (PS) for ECDIS in 1995. Today, Svanes is the CEO of NAVTOR, a market leader in the provision of innovative e-Navigation solutions, services and technology for the maritime sector. The company has subsidiaries and distributors across the globe with Egersund, Norway being the headquarters.