Operation of complex vessels

Norwegian Hull Club wishes to contribute to increased safety on board while focusing on lives, health, environment, assets and the distribution of useful experience. In this letter we focus on "operation of complex vessels".

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Photo: Helge Skodvin

Dear Captain,

As modern vessels are becoming more sophisticated and complex, it is important that sufficient time is put aside for training and familiarization in the operation of the equipment onboard.

In the past, the majority of vessels were equipped with conventional propellers and rudders. Today, however, vessels are becoming increasingly complex and are being equipped with new types of propulsion and control systems. This is especially true in the offshore industry. The new propulsion and control systems are controlled by varying types of human machine interfaces and may differ from one ship to another, as they are made by various manufacturers to different specifications and standards. The development in propulsion and control systems has created a need for the crew to receive specific training in the operation of system onboard.

To further complicate matters, the speed of promotion, for both deck and engineering officers has increased in the last decade, particularly in the offshore industry, which has seen rapid growth. This in turn, has led to officers taking command at a much earlier age. To combat this development, ship managers have adopted crew resource management training courses, similar to those in the aviation industry. These courses are designed to raise awareness of how to work as an effective bridge team and teaches officers to exchange information and use a system of checks when involved in vessel maneuvering. These courses are becoming increasingly common and have earned their place in the maritime industry.

At Norwegian Hull Club, we have seen several incidents where officers have taken command on either the bridge or engine control room, without having the relevant knowledge of how to operate the system. In one case, a deck officer was maneuvering within narrow waters, without knowing how to switch from automatic steering to manual steering. This lack of knowledge led to a collision. Additionally, the deck officer was maneuvering the vessel rather than the Master, as the Master had just joined the vessel and was not familiar or comfortable with the propulsion type onboard.

Norwegian Hull Club feels that the adoption of aviation industry training methods are a step in the right direction. However, there is one significant difference between vessels and aeroplanes. On an aeroplane, the cockpit layout is standardized and is the same from one aeroplane to the next, bridge layouts and equipment of a vessel are not. Additionally in order to take command of an aeroplane, the pilot needs to have a type rating, where he or she has demonstrated operational and technical proficiency on the model in question. On vessels, there are no such rules. The responsibility for ensuring that the officers are adequately trained and proficient is left with the vessel operators.

Therefore, we ask that you familiarize yourself with the equipment on joining and that adequate time is set aside for training and familiarization of the equipment on your vessel.

Bon voyage!

 

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