Operating a ship requires painstaking and continuous planning, training, and preparation and follow-up of procedures. When we operate a ship there is an inherent risk in everything we do , which may lead to some kind of impact ranging from smaller incidents to huge disasters impacting on human life, the environment and material damage.
Any non conformity may harm the shipping company’s relation to its charterer. A risk analysis process is often carried out before hiring a vessel. A low risk vessel is good for business! One incident or non conformity is one too many. Dependent on the seriousness of the incident investigations will be carried out to identify and understand the root causes. This in itself could be a challenging exercise requiring thorough analysis involving different competencies. The same goes for identifying effective corrective actions that includes efficient learning processes and lasting improvements.
And of cause there is a cost side as well in addition to any loss of business due to dissatisfied charterers. Most maritime incidents are covered by insurance. According to CEFOR the insurance companies covered incident cost of approximately 1,5 billion USD in 2015. The policy holders’ own share of this add up to significant sums of money. For material damage the policy holder will have to cover normally 150 000 USD per incident and 16 days off hire. A total cost of 1 million USD for an “average incident” is not too much to put into your budgets.
So, what is the recipe for effective and efficient corrective actions?
The obvious answer is of cause that there is not one single recipe there to help us out. However, we know that human factors are the major root cause of incidents. Of this reason it becomes essential to increase the knowledge, skills and attitudes of the people on-board; their awareness, their ability to assess risk, to avoid it if possible and to handle incidents should it occur, and – their ability to cooperate and communicate . Yet, more and more companies choose to send staff with a bare minimum of training to work, vastly increasing the risk of incidents.
In most aspects of life, we know that the only way to improve competence and performance is by training. Researchers have found several effective learning practices for adults meaning that grown up people is learning:
- when they know why they are learning something
- by doing
- by solving problems
- when the subject is of immediate use
- in social interaction
- when they can use their life experience
- when they can integrate new ideas with existing knowledge
Of cause training on-board will meet the most of these criteria and should be priority number one when it comes to learning normal operations and preventing incidents. However, when it comes to handle those incidents we know will happen someday (and they will; shit happens), there is simply no alternative to simulator training. The simulator training focuses safe handling of critical situations requiring awareness, close interaction and responsiveness in environments very similar to real life on board. The simulated operations are monitored and observed and the participants get feedback and proper debriefing. We can do it again and again until all participants get the good feeling of professional confident in various challenging situations. Simulator training is a way to reduce the risk for human errors especially when absolute precision, perfect teamwork and split-second decisions are needed. But the best of all; simulator training completely risk free!
Some argue that simulator training often is costly. Well, this is simply not the case anymore. Especially when you consider the business case: Less incidents. Look to the shuttle tankers, they do it!