LIMASSOL COMMAND SEMINAR 7th NOVEMBER 2014 | Nautical Institute Cyprus


The Command Seminar on Navigational Competence was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Limassol on 7th November 2014. Supported by over 100 delegates this full day seminar was the third in a series of five worldwide international seminars on the subject.

Keynote Address – What are the issues? – Steve Clinch, MAIB

Steve began his address by pointing out that the number of collisions, contacts and groundings according to MAIB data are increasing. Headline ‘issues’ for the MAIB for the period 2010-2013, which included 96 reports, had Risk Assessment/Permit to Work, Shiphandling and Watchkeeping/Rule of the Road as the top three concerns.
Steve’s top five navigational concerns are
• insufficient risk assessment as well as not asking the question ‘ What could go wrong?’ on the Bridges of ships.
• Watchkeeping skills and rule of the road compliance including effective lookout
• The Master/Pilot relationship.
• E-Navigation and ECDIS.
• Fatigue and Manning levels.
He then went on to explore specific cases. For example in the case of the Seagate/Timor Sea collision, there were safety issues related to breaches of the Rule of the Road, poor watchkeeping standards, Master not called, no substantial alterations of course to avoid collision , no reduction in speed, no sound signals and no use of the general alarm amongst others. Human factors included complacency and competence.
Steve also pointed out that some of these accidents involved management level officers so this raised the question – what examples are being set to Junior (Operational level) officers?
On the issue of the Master/Pilot relationship Steve issued a challenge to champion the much closer integration of Pilots and Bridge teams such that, during pilotage operations, everyone expects that the Pilot will be properly supported at all stages of the operation. For Pilots the top safety issue is lack of communication with the Bridge team.
On the issue of ECDIS, Steve discussed the case of the ‘OVIT’, which grounded on the Varne bank with the vessel following a route on her ECDIS that took her right over the bank and with insufficient underkeel clearance. This was despite the Officers being provided with generic and type-specific familiarisation with the ECDIS unit. In reality nobody knew how to use the ECDIS properly.
Steve‘s last point was on fatigue and manning levels where he felt that it was clear from accident investigations that fatique was a major casual factor. In some cases the BNWAS (Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm System) was not used.

Benefits and Burdens of Modern Technology – John Murray , ICS

John introduced his presentation with a little of the history of E-Nav. It started in 2006 when MSC 81 agreed on the development of an e-navigation strategy. This was a long time ago of course and now at the end of 2014 MSC92 will consider a cross industry submission on the future of e-nav. John noted that IALA reactivated its e-navigation committee in Oct 2014. Meanwhile MSC94 will consider what level of engagement the IMO should have following adoption of the SIP (strategic implementation plan). There is an understanding that further delays to producing tangible outcomes could cause significant harm while e-navigation must address real needs of the users. John then presented the threats and opportunities. Threats included that the process would be technology led, lack shipping industry input and be ‘solutions looking for problems’. Opportunities included a great concept, fulfilling user needs and automated reporting, improving ergonomics and improving safety and environmental protection. John said that the new technology must provide clear benefits and the communication must be clear and effective. It is time for member states to get involved and starting putting in place detailed requirements. John felt that it would be wasteful to put the technology on older vessels and therefore the technology must be scalable. John’s final point touched on the design of modern day bridges. He was concerned that lack of situation awareness on the Bridges of ships was caused by such things as the comfortable navigational bridge chair as well as the air conditioned ‘isolation’ of the sealed bridge.

E-navigation – Where are we going? – David Patraiko, Nautical Institute

David began by defining E-Navigation. E-Navigation is the harmonised collection, integration, exchange, presentation and analysis of marine information onboard and ashore by electronic means to enhance berth to berth navigation for safety and security. The main concern is that un-coordinated technological advances will result in lack of standardisation and incompatability between vessels with unnecessary levels of complexity.
Meantime the industry continues to develop with testbeds underway and new developments from coastal states. Singapore Traffic Management (SESAME), SMART Navigation (Korea) and MONALISA were mentioned amongst others. Meantime, IMO have issued guidelines for human-centred design (HCD), usability testing, software quality assurance (SQA) and the identification of the 17 tasks required under the SIP.
E-navigation presents tremendous opportunities as well as challenges. David mentioned the Torres Strait where the reliance on really good barthymetric data can allow the vessel with deepest possible draft to safely transit. On the other hand, the use of ‘virtual’ navigation aid data on charts can be confusing or even misleading with the same symbol used for a variety of meanings.
David then explored what the Nautical Institute is doing to assist, discussing various publications such as ‘Industry recommendations for ECDIS familiarisation’ and ‘ECDIS and positioning’ as well as ‘The Navigator’ and the ‘Alert’ programme.

Groundings with case studies – Chris Adams, The Steamship Mutual P&I Club

Despite technological advances, ships continue to run aground and Chris discussed the financial cost to the P&I Clubs of cases such as the ‘Rena’ where estimated costs have reached USD$425mio. Chris was deeply concerned about the level of ECDIS training situational awareness on many bridges with alarm systems being muted or switched off. In the case of the ‘OVIT’ grounding on the Varne bank there were very large lights and beacons around the bank so it was obvious that nobody was looking out of the window. Further it was a full 20 minutes after grounding that anybody on the vessel realised the ship was aground.
Recurrent themes in these cases include
• No lookout
• Groundings occurred at night
• Watchkeeper asleep.
• BWNAS switched off
• Passage planning deficiencies and
• Poor Bridge resource management
Then Chris touched on Project Horizon, which revealed some remarkable findings. For example, there were much higher numbers of officers succumbing to sleep under the 6-on 6 –off regime compared to the 4 on 8 off regime.
Finally Chris touched on some of the loss prevention measures that the Club has developed over the years to assist its members.

Preparing for command – Captain Robert McCabe, The Nautical Institite

Capt. Robert McCabe FNI is President of Nautical Institute and Director of Operations and Navigation Services at the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL) joined CIL in 1985 and has held his present position since 2012. He has gained his Class 1 Master Mariner Foreign Going Certificate of Competency in 1986. Currently he actively participates in several projects developed by The Nautical Institute and CIL related to e-Navigation.
In his presentation ‘Preparing for command’ Capt. Robert McCabe focused on the activity of the Nautical Institute in preparation of Masters for command and participation of the Institute in their professional career development.
Robert briefed the audience about the activities of a panel of experts preparing an updated publication on command that will be issued by The Nautical Institute to replace ‘The Nautical Institute on Command’ . This book was first published in 1986 and revised in 2000. The main focus of this publication will be on ship handling, Maritime Law, Safety and crew management.
At the end of the presentation, Capt. Robert McCabe concluded that The Nautical Institute, as a centre of professional excellence, attracts every year more and more seagoing and shorebased professionals who are interested to participate in their professional development. He also emphasized the role of modern technologies in information delivery and the importance of sharing knowledge among all maritime communities through seminars, publications and other tools such as those provided by The Nautical Institute.

The Master-Pilot interface: making it work – Ed Verbeek, Dutch Pilots Co-operative

Capt. Ed Verbeek, MNI, works as an advisor in research and development to the Dutch Pilots Co-Operative. In addition to this he is working as an assessor for promotion of staff Captains and Captains at the C-SMART simulation centre. Ed sailed as Master for about 12 years and worked as an Amsterdam pilot for 26 years.
In his presentation Ed reviewed the role of the Master-Pilot relations and different issues that have significant importance to establish good co-operation on the bridge and to ensure safe navigation.
He focused on the role of proper communication on the bridge. As a part of good practice, he underlined the importance of first impressions, willingness to help and understanding the limitations of the bridge team. He discussed some typical issues that are not ‘welcome’ e.g. starting with paperwork as soon as the Pilot appears on the Bridge or being ‘defensive’ and relying only on the Pilot advice.
He developed the concept of a good bridge team and shared his experience of pilotage of vessels without paper charts. After this presentation, delegates discussed the role of the Pilot in co-operation with bridge team and most of the audience seemed to agree that the pilot should be considered as part of the bridge team.
The presentation also initiated discussion regarding different standards and quality of pilotage world-wide.

Manning & Training – The Flag State perspective – Costas Costaras , Dept of Merchant Shipping

The speaker is Head of Seafarers Division to the Cyprus Department of Merchant Shipping (DMS), having previously worked as a marine surveyor, naval architect and as Coordinator of the Minister’s Office in the Ministry of Communications and Works and Director of the Minister’s Office in the Ministry of the Interior.

Mr. Costaras has presented the Cyprus maritime administration point of view for the human factor as the key to maritime safety. The speaker emphasized that the main concerns and efforts of the DMS are focused on the creation of a better and safer working and living environment for the seafarers on board Cyprus flagged ships in accordance with international conventions currently in force.

The speaker also commented on how the Maritime Administration is responding to one of the most significant challenges faced by the shipping industry over the last few years – the manning of ships with competent and properly certificated crews.

Costas said that the main functions of the maritime administration is Training, Certification and Registration of Seafarers and therefore the DMS is placing an emphasis on quality control and competence-based training, having recognized that the continuous training of every seafarer is crucial to succeed in operating the ships safely and efficiently.

Costas informed the audience about the additional Cyprus training requirements to extend the validity of the Certificate of competence and for certification as Officers in charge of a navigational watch and Officers in charge of an Engine room watch .
He concluded on the importance of human element in the operation of a vessel and its role in safety and pollution prevention, and on a number of measures undertaken by the administration to ensure that seafarers serving on board Cyprus flag vessels possess the knowledge and competence required for their position on board the vessel.


Summary Conclusion and Recommendations

On Navigational Competence

•    Navigational Accidents and their costs are increasing at an alarming rate. Some of these accidents are caused by a lack of familiarity with new technology.
•    All of the navigational incidents that were reviewed were caused by human error. If we accept that, in principle, each officer involved was competent to stand the watch, how then do we break the error chain?  The Master must demonstrate good leadership which, in turn, should lead to greater motivation and inspiration to his officers.
•    We should not forget that a high proportion of ships operate with very high levels of navigational competence and we need to capture and develop the skills of the Navigators on board those vessels.
•    The Navigator should always ask the vital question “what could go wrong?” The ability to answer that question adequately depends on the navigator’s knowledge and experience.


On Technology

•    New technologies can be good and are necessary but they need to be of real benefit to the Navigators on board and well implemented and without the need for extensive training.
•    E-Nav is moving forward quickly. Our industry needs to embrace it, get involved and start working in detail on the implementation. Specifically we need to define what we want from the system. There should be no mandatory implementation.
•    There is a compelling need for proper co-ordination of E-nav.
•    We need to look carefully at the design and layout of ship’s bridges. The Bridge as a comfortable ‘cocoon’ is reducing situational awareness.
•    We need to be aware of the ‘paradox of navigational gadgets’ – the supply of ever more detailed navigational data by systems does not necessarily result in the Navigator improving the way he or she does the job. In some cases, the process may result in boredom, complacency and lack of interest.
•    We do need to ensure Total proficiency in all E-Navigation and electronic nav aids and stop over-reliance on one system,


On manning and training

•    We need to not only train for competence but we need to inspire and motivate good Navigators to get the desired outcome.
•    Motivational tools must include mentoring and literature such as ‘The Navigator’
•    Master-Pilot relationship is desired competence and we must develop related skills such as assertiveness and ‘thinking aloud’.
•    Soft skills are required in the context of Bridge Teams and Master-Pilot interaction.
•    We need to be aware of the ‘fragility of Mariners’ – they are not superhuman. They, like everyone else, will make mistakes. We need to accept that, plan for it and adjust our operating styles accordingly.
•    We endorse the development of the NI Command Scheme as part of the process for improving competence and defining ‘best practice’.
•    Ship handling is a major issue and needs to be addressed not only through the STCW but further training initiatives.
•    We must not rely purely on ‘on board training’ for cadets. The ‘on board training’ for cadets is regulated by the STCW. However the cadets might learn the ‘wrong ways’ if the DOC holder lacks control and a proper safety and navigational culture and is not motivating the senior officers to train. Therefore the DOC holder should enrich the cadets’ structured training program and monitor their progress while they are under training on board.
•    Risk Assessment for each Aid to Navigation should be included in competency skill sets.



Contributions from Captain Martin Bankov, Mikhail Konoplev, Captain VS Parani and Graham Cowling of the NI Cyprus Branch