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    Re: A credible AIS track for the Costa Concordia
    From: Magnus Sjoquist
    Date: 2012 Jan 25, 12:40 +0100
    Flat Screen Navigation v. Seamanship and Common Sense
     

    In ancient times (after WW2) when radar was becoming part of the standard equipment onboard ships ?Radar Assisted Collisions? became a reality. Safety margins tightened up when we could actually ?see? other ships. We dared to go closer to our floating friends and colleagues, we shortened our routes, we felt quite relaxed even when darkness or fog prevailed in areas with heavy traffic or in open seas. Gradually we became aware that also radar has its limitations, for instance in rain showers, snowfall or in high seas. Radar could (or can) not look around corners, behind meeting ships or on some ships not even behind our own funnel(s).

     

    Mentioned radar shortcomings were well known by the time I started my officer-career in 1963, but looking in the back mirror I admit that we, on the warm and dry bridge, took risks like keeping speed even if the rain squalled hard against front windows, snowfall was thick like porridge or the area we navigated were known to have icebergs or growlers. We kept our fingers crossed, did not touch the throttle and kept our time-schedules and ETA?s. Some of us were unlucky and ended up in court or in with the sharks. I certainly was not an experienced navigator ready for  being responsible watch officer, but I was lucky. I got my masters ticket long before I was ready for it, but incidents I experienced made me learn quicker and by the end of the day when I signed off from my last command (35 years later)  I think I lived up to reasonable standards.

     

    In the 60?ies we were not aware of it, but we had just stepped into a new world where reliance on instruments became just as natural as reliance on good twilight star-shots.

    Sometimes this reliance is over-reliance and sometimes it is under-reliance. Conflicts occur when your eyes tell you one thing and your instruments tell another, or when two different instruments have different interpretation of the truth. Or, for that matter, when two different human navigators have different opinion on what is best to do in a tight situation.

    Or, when 6 different instruments and three navigators all have different interpretation of what is really happening.

    Add to that Captain William Bligh and another officer who

    knows his captain as a person with immense experience and and well-known lack of understanding for other people?s opinions, in particular opinions on how to run the captains ship.

    Sometimes, Fletcher Christian would come in handy, provided he does not go all the way. With a modern way of thinking, it is any officers duty to act Fletcher Christian, should the need arise.

    Unfortunately, the courage to protest against bad decisions is not always present (which is not a phenomena restricted to bridge teams on ships). Had it been, as is encouraged at many navigation schools today, ship borne transportation would be much safer than what it is today.

     

    Cut out all electronics, let the mayor part of the crew get struck with influenza, forget the time schedule, but keep a couple of  skilled teamworking navigators, keep a couple of skilled teamworking engineers and they will always take the ship anywhere where she will float.

    A ship navigated by FSN?s (Flat Screen Navigators) can also go anywhere where she will float. Most of the time.

     

    A ship equipped with fully modern and functional electronic tools, manned with competent crew who understands not only the possibilities but also the limitations of whatever available equipment or manpower there is at hand right, is a good working ship.

     

    Problem of today is not lack of information, but the challenge to sort out relevant information, regardless if same comes from what you see and hear or from little boxes.

     

    Summing up:

    Good seamanship in a wide perspective is still 100% relevant.

    Disregarding advices from available sources, including working electronic equipment and workmates, is not good seamanship.

    Captain Bligh was a great seaman. Navigated a lifeboat 3600 M, open sea, Pacific Ocean. According to literature, not a kind of leader who would fit on a modern ship of today. He died 7 December 1817.

    Or did he not?

     

    Thanking you for your attention!

     

    /Magnus Sjoquist

     
     
     
    ----Ursprungligt meddelande----
    Från: harwoodd@hotmail.com
    Datum: 2012-01-25 11:55
    Till: <navlist@fer3.com>
    Ärende: [NavList] Re: A credible AIS track for the Costa Concordia


    Frank, you wrote:


    ?In commercial aviation, as I understand it, there was a major push starting a few decades ago to give the copilot more authority to question the captain in the cockpit. Not just by rules and regulation, but by training. A number of deadly accidents were blamed in part on crew members too timid or too respectful to speak up to the captain.?


    I?ll add to this?


    We know this as Crew Resource Management (CRM) in the military aviation community.  Training consists of an initial course accompanied by annual refresher training.  The initial training takes the better part of an afternoon.  Refresher training is usually completed concurrently with annual simulator training and is completed in an hour or two.   You might find it interesting that while simulator training may be waived or extended, current regulations do not permit CRM training extensions.  When you expire, you?re grounded?period.


    I recall reading about a pre-CRM experiment during my initial training.  The story goes?

    Inexperienced co-pilots reported for their annual simulator training, where they were met by a multi-thousand hour, highly experienced, white haired, legendary captain.  During an approach for landing, the captain would simply play dead.  I don?t recall the numbers, but the majority of co-pilots never took control of the aircraft.  At most, they would call out the deviation but never take the controls resulting in the worst possible outcome.


    CRM has done a lot to break barriers to communication.  The antidote to the situation in the experiment is known as the ?two-challenge rule?.  A crewmember with a concern challenges the offender.  If the challenge goes unacknowledged twice, the challenging crewmember immediately assumes the duty.


    Possible CRM topics that come to mind with the Costa Concordia accident may include:

    EXCESSIVE PROFESSIONAL COURTESY:  Hesitancy to say anything for fear of insulting the other pilot's skills, especially if that pilot is a friend or superior.

    HALO EFFECT:  Hesitancy to speak up when the erring pilot is known to be an expert, or has more experience than yourself.

    DEVIATION NORMALIZATION:  It?s been done wrong for so long that it becomes the new normal.

     v/r

    Dave Harwood

     


    From: FrankReed@HistoricalAtlas.com
    To: NavList@fer3.com
    Date: Tue, 24 Jan 2012 21:06:06 -0800
    Subject: [NavList] Re: A credible AIS track for the Costa Concordia

    Geoffrey, you wrote:
    "Historically, there never was a backup to the captain on the bridge. He was God, his word was law and if you questioned it, then it was mutiny. How is that different today?"
    That's a good question. In commercial aviation, as I understand it, there was a major push starting a few decades ago to give the copilot more authority to question the captain in the cockpit. Not just by rules and regulation, but by training. A number of deadly accidents were blamed in part on crew members too timid or too respectful to speak up to the captain.
    And you wrote:
    "And reading between the lines, this captain had probably done this dozens of times before. It sounds like it was a macho thing."
    I think it's being portrayed in the media as a macho thing, but I am not convinced. There's no question that the cruise line knew about these detours and left them up to the captain's discretion. His job, in part, was to entertain the passengers with a beautiful cruise (obviously within limits, which he tragically exceeded this time). What I see here is a "carefree" attitude towards the navigation of the vessel. It worked before; it will work again. What can go wrong when sailing such a modern vessel? It's all "so easy".
    And:
    "The other officers on the bridge were probably quite relaxed about it until about 30 seconds before the crunch. Not much time to do anything about it then..."
    Yes, I would imagine so. People get careless. But were there no automated systems? This was one hundred percent detectable by simple software. The ship knew exactly where it was. The ship had extensive databases available to it showing exactly where the shallows were. The ship knew how long it would take to decelerate or make a safe (and comfortable) turn. The ship should have saved itself.
    I watched an hour of the old Kubrick movie "2001" last night, and I had in my head an image of the "Hal 9000" computer installed aboard the Costa Concordia suggesting in that sinister, comforting voice to the captain, "Francesco, perhaps you should have a glass of wine and let me steer for a while. You know how concerned I am about the success of our mission" ...as a computer-driven arm swings out and shoves him over the side. More seriously, these huge ships and their thousands of passengers are too valuable and too easily damaged to leave it all in the hands of human judgement. Surely there are alarm systems that can calculate the minimum safe distance no matter who is "driving" the vessel.
    -FER

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