While poor watchkeeping, over reliance on GPS, fatigue, commercial pressure and distractions remain as major causes of shipping accidents, new technology inevitably leads to new ways to have accidents, argues David Patraiko, Director of Projects, The Nautical Institute, in the new issue of ‘The Navigator’, looking at some of the more common causes of shipping accidents.
Mariners must always remain alert to their surroundings and have the ability and confidence to identify and mitigate risk. These new risks may come from new procedures, developing technology or even changing regulations,
…says Mr. Patraiko.
In this edition, The Navigator provides ten tips for mariners to maximize chances of avoiding an accident at sea:
- Reporting the risks: Insurance and accident investigation reports indicate that navigational accidents still do happen, despite our best efforts to eliminate all the risks.
- Learning curve: It’s important to learn from your own mistakes, but don’t forget to learn from other people too. Study accident reports and other sources of industry information to increase your knowledge and understanding.
- Examples galore: Good sources of accident and incident reports include P&I Clubs, National Accident Investigation agencies, Chirp Maritime and, of course, The Nautical Institute’s own Mariners’ Alerting and Reporting Scheme (MARS).
- To err is human… Aim to have multiple ways of catching a mistake. Take advantage of extra personnel (call the Master), alarm functions (depth, CPA…). Above all, stay alert!
- Plan ahead: Most risks, including traffic, weather and distractions, can be anticipated. Plan ahead, predict risk and mitigate against it. Systems can fail, so always have a plan B.
- Look out!: Poor lookout remains one of the most common causes of accidents. Always keep a good lookout by ‘all available means’ – and don’t forget to look out of the window!
- Anchoring advice: Far too many collisions and groundings occur when vessels are in anchorage. Stay alert when anchoring and anticipate changes in weather and currents.
- Avoid distraction: There are numerous ways that a navigator can become distracted while on duty, such as other tasks, alarms, traffic… If you feel stretched, call the Master.
- Fatigue can be fatal: The risk of fatigue and tiredness while on duty are both real and common; the effects can be equivalent to those caused by drinking. Monitor yourself and others continuously for the tell-tale signs.
- No ‘I’ in TEAM: Always work together as a bridge team to learn from others, anticipate risk and help others learn and understand how to keep themselves and their colleagues safe.
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