Jan 042011

Issue 25 of the International Maritime Human Element Bulletin Alert! focusses on the contributions of skill, knowledge, teamwork and leadership to ship operation, and says that the assimilation of them can no longer be left to chance, and vague ideas about learning from one’s elders and betters are no longer adequate. Certainly, there is a huge amount that can be gained from watching really good senior officers operate, but the 2010 Manila amendments to the STCW Code require a lot more in the way of demonstrable competencies.

There must be formal training in bridge and engine room resource management, and importantly, there must be demonstrated competence in leadership, managerial and team working skills. So for the first time this vital component, which is so necessary if ships are to be operated safely, needs to be demonstrated and assessed, which also assumes that adequate training is made available, both for people who will serve aboard ship, and for those who must manage operations in the shore side of a shipping company.

Administrations are presently evaluating the way in which they will implement the Manila Amendments, but it seems that training in both the theory and practice of leadership and management skills, perhaps using simulators, or situations will be required. All presupposes certain skills in communication and these perhaps are central to the exercise of effective leadership.

Alert! Issue 25 offers thought-provoking articles on teamwork, the welding of a ship’s crew into an effective whole, the importance of motivation from the shore and from those in authority aboard ship, along with the development of people skills that will get the best out of everyone. The importance of the master as leader and motivator is illustrated, while an example of a single company’s attitude to teamwork and the development of common goals between ship and shore is provided.

Other articles suggest that there are some elements that can be learned from the newer transport mode of aviation, but that there remain fundamental differences between the operation of aircraft and ships, while the skills necessary for proper investigation into human element occurrences are explained.

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