Can Technology Weaken Seafarers’ Professional Judgment?

2020-11-26 13:04:49 Sea Farers News

Today, the profession is undergoing radical change, and so is the seafarers’ own understanding of their role. New seamen and seawomen are trained to follow procedures, reducing the opportunities for them to exercise their discretion.

Seafarers perceive this development as a threat to safety.

Technology and procedures take over; they value less the knowledge transfer from experienced seafarers

“A lot of the practical work on board ship is embodied knowledge that needs to be learned through working with experienced seafarers. The formalized procedures seem to value this knowledge transfer less,” says Torgeir Kolstø Haavik from NTNU Social Research.

He and a research team at NTNU and Safetec, a provider of risk management services, have interviewed fourteen seafarers aged 22 to 62, and have documented their understanding of how the profession has changed.

The work was carried out as part of the “Professional competence, standardization and safety in aviation and the maritime industry” project

“Technological and administrative changes in the work environment affect how we understand good seamanship and maritime safety. The bridge has seen a lot of new technology, including navigation and positioning,” says Haavik.

Most situations have technological solutions

New technology has changed the work tasks in the engine room as well, with increased automation and data collection for use in on-land analyses. Most situations have technological solutions, such as keeping the boat in a stable position during loading and unloading at offshore installations.

For monitoring automatic systems classic nautical skills aren’t all needed

All these innovations alter the professional competence related to safety. When navigators monitor the automatic systems instead of doing the navigating themselves, the classic nautical skills aren’t all needed or sufficient to do the job.

Operations at sea cause unforeseen situations that there aren’t any procedures for

“The job and the tasks are changing. That’s a fact,” says Haavik.” But, he points out, operations at sea can involve other vessels, technical problems and demanding weather conditions that cause unforeseen situations that there aren’t any procedures for.

Concepts without content

The Norwegian Maritime Code states that “The master shall ensure that the navigation and management of the ship accords with good seamanship.” But what exactly is “good seamanship”? New and experienced sailors have different views on this.

“It isn’t necessarily problematic in and of itself that a concept loses its content. But as long as both international and national regulations require “good seamanship,” and the Accident Investigation Board can conclude that “poor seamanship” has been exhibited, it would be interesting to know what the term means to the professionals. If the content is changing, it’s important for this to be captured and discussed,” Haavik says.

This article appears courtesy Gemini Research News.

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