After reviewing recent years’ navigational claims, it becomes apparent that many of the causes are recurring. Some of the casualties happened because crew members deviated from procedures, didn’t discuss what was happening or one person made a disastrous mistake (see the terrible disaster of the Costa Concordia). This is why there should be multiple officers on the bridge during critical operations so one person’s mistake can be detected and rectified.
That the Officer Of the Watch (OOW) didn’t follow the COLREG’s or the company’s Safety Management System is usually not the root cause to a casualty. The root cause is usually a combination of inexperience and issues within the organization. This could manifest itself in the attitude that it has become acceptable to take unsanctioned risks and shortcuts.
The consequences of a casualty for shipping companies are not purely financial, but also include: loss of lives, polluting the environment and loss of reputation, which is not included in The Swedish Club statistics.
The immediate cause is usually not the root cause of a casualty. But to be able to identify the root cause the immediate cause has to be identified and rectified. When sailing in congested waters, dense traffic or close to land, risks are increased, which needs to be acknowledged. To be prepared for these risks it is imperative that the OOW is aware of errors and the limits of his navigation equipment.
Making assumptions about displayed information and being complacent by not verifying the information are also contributing factors to accidents. We would identify these as immediate causes.
What also can be seen is that many of the navigational claims happen because the manager’s procedures have been ignored. If these procedures had been followed, the accident could have been prevented – but just having procedures is not enough. The procedures need to be up-to-date and actually assist the crew in their work.
The time and effort that the crew or superintendent has to invest in complying with procedures should result in a safer vessel with an improved safety culture. Procedures need to make sense and be there for a reason and not just to comply with regulations. The managers need to ensure that their Superintendents and safety departments are inspecting and verifying that correct procedures are implemented, followed and also identify why the procedures were not followed in the first place.
Source: The Swedish Club // PPM News Service