Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
Errors in navigation in pilotage waters around New Zealand carry the risk of serious consequences for people, the New Zealand environment, and the economy.
In New Zealand the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) has recently inquired into several incidents where errors occurred due in part due to international standards for what should happen on the bridge of a ship not being met.
The Commission is sufficiently concerned with this problem to add it to the TAIC Watchlist.
Deficiencies in bridge resource management, an international standard for ensuring safe navigation of a ship, have been a feature of these incidents. Errors in navigation in pilotage waters have the potential to have serious consequences for people, the environment, and commerce.
Safe navigation of a ship through pilotage waters requires every part of a ship’s voyage to be planned, and for all members of the bridge team to have a common understanding of the plan.
In recently completed inquiries, the Commission found that bridge resource management did not meet international standards. These inquiries featured mis-
communication and a lack of common understanding among the bridge management team, and poor integration of pilots into the bridge team.
The Commission has made recommendations about improving standards of pilotage, improving standards of voyage planning, bridge resource management, and about the training and use of electronic chart display and information systems. These recommendations remain open.
International agencies have also identified pilotage as a safety issue.
For the full NZ TAIC Watchlist item readers are invited to see:
The TAIC Watchlist
The Commission’s Watchlist encourages regulators, operators, the Government – and the people involved in transport every day – to mitigate transport-related concerns which carry with them high potential social, economic or environmental risk; and systemic transport safety risks.
The common thread is poor application of an international standard for ensuring safe navigation of a ship otherwise bridge resource management.
Bridge resource management
Bridge resource management is the effective management and utilisation of all resources - human and technical - available to a bridge team, to help ensure the safe completion of the vessel’s voyage. This safety and error management tool has been crucial for crew training worldwide for a quarter of a century. It has the backing of the IMO.
Bridge resource management includes:
What is more, everyone on the bridge must be able to challenge those in charge.
Failures in one or more of these areas have featured prominently in four inquiries completed by the Commission since November 2017
Inquiries that prompted this Watchlist item
A cruise ship contacted a submerged object near Snares Island in January 2017. The key issue was poor bridge resource management and operation of the ship’s ECDIS, the primary means of navigation. The Commission’s recommendations to the operator addressed voyage planning, bridge resource management, and ECDIS training.
For further details readers are invited to see here:
Four weeks later, the same cruise ship was entering Milford Sound at night. The pilot lost situational awareness and the ship struck a stony bank near the base of Mitre Peak. The bridge team was not making full use of the ship’s electronic navigation systems and when they noticed the ship was off track, they didn’t tell the pilot until it was too late. The Commission repeated recommendations from the previous inquiry.
A second cruise ship contacted Wheki Rock in Tory Channel in early 2016. The bridge team and the pilot had no shared understanding of the plan for the ship to make a crucial turn, or the influence the tide, and they did not properly monitor the ship’s progress. Recommendations about pilot training, and risk assessment for safe navigation of cruise ships through Tory Channel.
In a fourth recent report, a bulk carrier ran aground in Otago Harbour, again because of poor bridge resource management. The bridge team lost situational awareness. They had not adequately monitored the ship’s progress using all available means and the pilot and crew lacked a formal shared understanding of the passage plan and navigation equipment configuration.
Pilotage is an issue for international agencies as well. The TAIC’s peer organisation, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has placed maritime pilotage on their SafetyWatch, the equivalent publication to the Watchlist.
The series of recurring incidents involving standards of bridge management that do not meet industry standards, and the presence of the problem in other jurisdictions, suggests that this is a safety issue that needs attention from the regulator, operators, and training providers.
On 13 November speaking in Tokyo on behalf of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), its Chairman, Esben Poulsson, highlighted serious concerns about the challenge presented by the United States.
In his words: ‘To the proven benefits of multilateralism and the existing global trading order underpinned by a system of international rules and norms which has brought peace and prosperity since World War Two’.
He added: ‘The view that international trade can be seen as some kind of zero sum game is demonstrably false.’
Poulsson acknowledged that the US has legitimate concerns about the policies of some of its trading partners, concerns which to some extent ICS also shares, particularly with regard to China and South Korea’s possible contribution towards overcapacity in shipping.
The IMO regulation that sets out preventive security measures on detecting and deterring threats to ships and port facilities – the ISPS Code* – was the subject of a training workshop that took place in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago from 5-9 November.
This workshop was initiated as a means of assistance to potential Designated Authority (DA) and Port Facility Security Officers (PFSOs) to improve their knowledge of how to implement the relevant provisions in the ISPS Code and SOLAS Chapter XI-2. This followed a national maritime security workshop on design and conduct of drills and exercises organized for Trinidad and Tobago by IMO last year, the outcomes of which are being addressed in part by this new workshop.