The Human Element is a main issue for the shipping industry where we do have regulatory drivers such as the STCW and the newcomer MLC. We are going to use also new conventions for the training within the next couple of years. Eminent challenge at the moment is crew rest and work hours. Whatever we do regarding the human element, human errors still prevail although we see today more equipment more cost more information and more training. This is a pressure for the owners.
We also see that there is risk of ”information overload’ of end users. For the crew welfare, living conditions and communication bandwidth are very important factors allocated on board. A new concept introduced is to ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) meaning that all crew can bring their own smart phones, tablets, laptops or whatever equipment can perform communications. This will be a challenge for cyber- security and virus protection on board the ship. Another challenge will be the social media and 24/7 access to “live streaming “of any kind local news, local tv, local radio. This will for sure put pressure on the recruiting and retention of seafarers.
However, the efficiency of a ship depends on the wellbeing and welfare of the crew.The Ballast Water Convention will put pressure on training as it will shortly require familiarization and training of key personnel in terms of background and reason, obligations and requirements, operation and compliance. Crew will need to be trained for the BWM plan, for recording of all BWM operations, Ballast Water Exchange, operating with minimum ballast, BWM Systems and their operation.
There are a few concepts for the future already here or just around the corner which will put more pressure for the crew training: e- Navigation, remotely monitored or operated on board shipboard function and smart ship operations. Shipboard equipment and systems will become more complex and new on board skills could be a must! Well, in an ideal world we can say yes we can do these! Yes, we can, but we need time. It is important to avoid the pitfalls. One of the major I see is the duty officers going from being active to being passive. Active means that you can control and monitor everything outside your trip for intercalation and navigation.
Today, many of these functions have been taken away by equipment meaning that the officer’s task has been reduced to accept the alarms and the warnings and then take any necessary action if needed. Of course minimization of any familiarization and training for new equipment should be avoided. New crew need to be fully familiarized with any kind of equipment that they will have to operate on board the ship. Successful retention of the crew will be also a challenge; successful retention of the crew is not only saving cost but also keeping valuable experience, knowledge and skills internally. Just around the corner, there are unmanned ships; I don’t believe we will be unmanned in a full scale. We could have unmanned ships in the terms of there will not be any active duty officers but there will be people on board to handle any kind of emergency or failure of equipment. This new concept might lead to rethinking of our way ahead
In conclusion, training and familiarization, work and rest hours, welfare, recruiting and retention are all the current challenges for the human element on board. In addition, we have to realize that the next generation, the ‘gadget’ generation is already out there and if they don’t have access to the worldwide web, we could have a problem. Tomorrow is already here.
Above article is an edited version of Peter Lundahl Rasmussen’s presentation during 2014 SAFETY4SEA Forum
More details may be found by viewing his Presentation video