There is no fast track elevator to safety; you will have to take the stairs, step by step to increase your safety as we have successfully done in Carnival Corporation during last decade.

Back in 2008, we started only with a traditional bridge organization, meaning that a master was giving out his orders, taking all the decisions, dismissing most of the time all technology on the ship and the bridge team as well. What we discovered was that resources were not optimally utilized. We also realized that sometimes the bridge team might have thoughts like ‘I wouldn’t have done it that way,’ or ‘He is the master so he must know something I don’t, so I should not say anything’. Even today many of the incidents stem from this lack of intervention. This kind of bridge organization, with the master in front of the bridge team tends to make officers passive by-standers. Therefore, we had to do something about this organization and our suggestion at that time was to move into an organizationally based Safety Management System. We call it the ‘Role Based Bridge Organization’, where we co-ordinate teamwork.

The Role Based Bridge Organization

The Role Based Bridge Organization is totally flexible. The Captain appoints who is doing what and in this case the navigator is the watch officer; he is responsible for driving the ship in accordance with a very detailed plan. He also communicates with the co-navigator. The role of the co-navigator is to support and cross-check that the navigator is actually following the plan or if there are any risks to the navigation and manoeuvring of the ship. So, the communication between the navigator and the co-navigator is absolutely essential.

Moreover, we have developed a specific communication technique called “Thinking Aloud.” This technique translates to situations where the navigator is thinking aloud; he tells what his intention is, the reason for it and what the outcome should be. The navigator and co-navigator are always on the bridge. When risk increases we add a third person, the operations director. That must be a more senior person. It is either the staff captain or the captain. The role of the operations director is to monitor, overview and if needed supervise or coach the two persons in front of him. The operations director does not come up and intervene in the operation unless it is absolutely necessary. There is also a fourth person added around more complex manoeuvers; for example port approach and departures. This fourth person is normally the junior officer who takes the role as the administrator with the task to take away distractions from the bridge team. He answers phone calls, he looks after alarms in order to leave the bridge team undisturbed, so it can focus on driving the ship. Of course we also have a pilot on board when we enter or leave a port. On the latest ships there is a specific place for the pilot, a so-called a monitoring station. The pilot might have either direct control of the navigation which is common in certain areas, or indirect control. The latter means that the navigator continues to conn the ship and the pilot will take a more advisory role, similar to the operations director. In addition to this approach, we also changed the bridge lay-out. This lay-out is based on human-centered design in order to maximize the teamwork. The next step taken was a change in voyage planning and combine it with bridge resource management. We do not plan just in single numbers, but we plan in intervals.

Critical areas for safety

A comparison: if you look at a nuclear plant, they have a range of safe working temperatures, followed by a series of abnormal temperatures that are risky, but still acceptable. They also have stated no go areas where they do not want to go. Same thing occurs in our organization as well. We plan our track in a corridor which represents the normal operational area. The ship can be anywhere in the corridor; we do not need to be exactly on the track. Between the track corridor and the no go area we have a fully navigable area called the safety margin, which can be used in abnormal situations. This is crucial, because the safety margin indicates when an officer should speak up if there is an unintentional deviation from the track corridor. The same thing goes for the speed if it is above or below the interval which has been planned, it is the duty of the co-navigator to speak up. However, as those margins are absolutely critical for safety, being triggers for intervention, they should be mentioned in the pre-departure briefing.

Escalating Outcome Based Intervention technique

Whenever the ship is leaving the corridor without intention, the co-navigator should start by probing the navigator. He would say for example ‘what is your intention with regards to the corridor?’ This is called non-threatening probing. If that is not sufficient, we go up to ‘alerting’. He could verbally state for example: ‘We are 30 m outside the corridor.’ If the navigator does not do anything about this situation, then a challenge with an outcome based intervention is put in place: ‘I recommend to alter course to port to bring her back into the corridor.’

We do not tell the navigator what to do, we tell what we would like to see as an outcome. If we tell what the navigator should do, we are taking over control of the vessel, which is not the purpose. We want the navigator to act in such a manner that he brings the vessel back into the safety corridor. In the unlikely event that no corrective action has been taken, an emergency step arises where you need to state ‘If you do not alter course now we risk going aground.’ In this escalated situation, you can now assert ‘I take control’ if you are the captain or a higher rank.

Onboard follow-up and coaching

In order to further implement this model, we have an onboard follow-up and coaching by fleet captains. They ensure that the training we have provided is put into use on board. The fleet captains visit all vessels annually to safeguard and confirm that our officers and vessel operations function according to training. It is a very successful program, and the transition into a Role Based Organization has been made possible in a relatively short time due to the fleet captains coaching on the job, checking normal operations, they consolidate training and assist captains to implement changes in order to verify that work is done properly and mobilize commitment.


Above text is an edited version of Captain Hans Hederström presentation during the last SAFETY4SEA Conference in Athens

View his video presentation herebelow:

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.

Captain Hans Hederström, Managing Director of CSMART, Center for Simulator Maritime Training

Captain Hans Hederström is the Managing Director of CSMART, Center for Simulator Maritime Training. It is the international maritime training center of the world’s largest cruise company, Carnival Corporation & plc Group with the aim to train 7,000 Carnival deck and engineering officers per year. Captain Hederström brings 50 years of maritime experience to CSMART. He holds a Master Mariners (class 1) license, a Marine Engineers Certificate from the Marine College in Gothenburg, Sweden and has sailed in all ranks up to and including Master. In 2008 he was hired by P&O Princess Cruises to build the first CSMART facility in the Netherlands. This first training center started the Bridge and Engine simulators for operation in July 2009 with Captain Hederström as the Managing Director. In July 2016, Carnival Corporation expanded its training operations with the opening of the Arison Maritime Center, featuring CSMART Academy and CSMART Hotel.