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The Nautical Institute publishes ‘Navigation Accidents and Their Causes’

Posted on: 29th September 2015

The Nautical Institute’s latest book looks at major casualties and the lessons that can be learned, setting out good practice to avoid them in future. The book, launched today (Monday), examines nearly 30 casualties and the problems of fatigue, bridge resource management, Colregs and other issues where human factors contributed to the accidents.

In his Foreword to the book, Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization, said: “This timely publication from The Nautical Institute should provide a crucial guide for every mariner serving at sea and serve to assist in reducing collisions and groundings.

“The publication is written in maritime English for international mariners. Each chapter can be read individually, thus forming a valuable onboard resource.”

An international group of authors, including accident investigators, Master Mariners, navigation specialists and university lecturers, used their experience and knowledge to look at the mistakes that have led to collisions and groundings. Previous casualties have been used to illustrate where failures have occurred and lessons which can be learned. The need for risk assessment in advance of a voyage is highlighted in many ways, including bridge resource management and passage planning.

The authors looked into the future, to identify trends that may impact on navigational risk and suggest ways to mitigate them. This innovative approach goes beyond the scope of Collisions and their Causes and Strandings and their Causes, both previously published by The Nautical Institute and written by the late Captain Richard Cahill MBA FNI. While Navigation Accidents and their Causes examines failings that Cahill identified so clearly, it goes further by suggesting onboard training and mentoring as the way to learn from accidents.

Technical Editor, David Pockett BSc FNI, explained that navigation aids are only “as good as the user” and need an alert observer who understands the input and output, can assess the data provided and identify faults. In the future he said “the navigator will still play an important role but the job specification will be wider and more sophisticated than before.

“Spatial issues too will become ever more of a challenge,” continued Mr Pockett, a leading casualty investigator and a member of the panel of Special Casualty Representatives at Lloyd’s. “The continued exploration for hydrocarbons offshore and implementation of renewable energy systems will have an impact on navigation, particularly in coastal areas,” he explained. New exclusive economic zones, reduced sea room, greater regulatory measures and the need for yet tighter control all suggest a leaning towards a ‘Big Brother’ approach in the future.

He said that with the prospect of autonomous ships and increased involvement of VTS it might be a case of “the navigator navigating or being navigated, or perhaps moving from active to passive navigation.”

The book launch coincided with a seminar organised by the Institute on Manning and Fatigue. Captain Nick Nash FNI, an Institute Vice-President, said: “We have been informing the world about the dangers of fatigue and lobbying for change for decades. The danger of operating a Master/mate six on/six off system is that the ship cannot comply with the ISM Code and its own SMS. Or at best, has great difficulty in complying. Extreme fatigue in all watchkeepers is bound to result.

“We will continue our campaign as fatigue is a factor in many accidents and near misses, minor and major. We hope that is the start of a new phase in our work towards reducing, if not removing, the threat that crews face from fatigue.”

Captain Nash, who serves with Carnival Cruises, added: “The overall message from the book and the seminar is that everyone can learn from the mistakes of others and everyone has a part to play in ensuring that training and experience are used effectively to keep vessels safe. Onboard training and mentoring may hold the key, and the navigation bridge is an ideal place for this to take place.”

Navigation Accidents and their Causes is available from The Nautical Institute price: £40; ISBN: 978 1 906915 32 2 www.nautinst.org/pubs

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