Accident case studies show that the majority of ‘situational awareness’ errors were
due to a failure to monitor or observe data from the various equipment due to either
overload of information or distractions.
2. Ability to focus on critical issues
Overload of information can cause the danger of missing out on the critical issues.
This issue is already being experienced on the modern day bridge. The plethora of
alarms, and displays sometimes distracts the navigator from keeping a proper lookout
by sight and other available means.
3. Ability to work with remote teams
Teamwork on board is well understood at sea. However with the closer integration of
ship and shore systems, a large number of tasks will be done by people ashore. Vessel
traffic services will have a larger role to play. Teams ashore will analyze engine data
and advise the shipboard teams.
The large mix of shipboard crew nationalities and multi-national shore teams will bring
about new challenges in communications and teamwork.
4. Ability to be assertive
The interaction with a larger number of shore based teams will require a clear
emphasis on Masters over-riding authority enshrined in the ISM code.
With the lower costs of communications and e-mail systems, Masters are already
reporting a feeling of being ‘controlled’ too closely by shore staff.
While the laws make the Master responsible for all accidents, the reality is that Masters
feel that their authority (w.r.t. day to day running of the vessel) is being ‘taken away’.
5. Ability to understand the limitations and recognize changes of automation
Significant improvements are expected in automation of shipboard systems. Other
industries have recognized that automation leads to complacency, thereby resulting in
slower response in case of emergencies related to failure of automation. Other
industries already talk of ‘Automation Complacency’ and ‘Automation Traps’.
6. Ability to manage change
The pace of change of technology and regulations in all industries has never been
faster. We see the challenges in adopting change in our daily lives. ‘Instagram’ and
‘Snapchat’ are not needed by the people in their 50’s, however for a teenager they are
basic necessities of daily life.
A significant number of seafarers and managers ashore are experiencing challenges
with adapting to ECDIS or accepting the inevitable irrelevance of celestial navigation
to a young officer.
7. Ability to learn continuously
The human race is discovering new knowledge faster than ever before. It is no longer
possible for any professional to be considered ‘competent’ without constantly keeping
abreast and subsequently adapting to these changes.
8. Ability to cope with increased stress
The shorter turnaround in ports, faster speeds of transit, larger sizes of vessels, stricter
financial constraints, extremely low manning levels, criminalization of seafarers and
various other factors have changed life on board to a high-stress job.
Social media is a wonderful way of keeping touch with the family but it also has an
effect on rest hours and it brings the problems of the family closer on board.
The high stress levels amongst seafarers and the effects on their health is not being
fully recognized and appreciated by regulators and industry leaders. A lot more
research is needed on the topic of stress affecting seafarers.
9. Ability to communicate effectively
The ship-shore and ship-port interface is becoming more complex due to various
factors like port security (without the port taking any moral or financial responsibility
for a stowaway boarding a vessel), terminal regulations and increased pressure on
profits in all parts of the industry.
The role of the Master to effectively deal with charterers, terminals, port state officials,
oil major inspectors and the multitude of agencies that now come on board the ship
has become more critical than ever before.
10. Ability to be a leader
In addition to the Master and Chief Engineer of the future retaining their traditional
skills of managing their shipboard teams, He / she will also need to learn and adapt to
various new skills of organizing, motivating, negotiating, running meetings, public
relations and time management.
The seafarer of the future will need to be tech-savvy, adaptable, analytical and rational
manager, who will be able to do a lot more with better technology and shore based
Or perhaps, he will be sitting ashore monitoring drone ships!
Various companies are already tackling these issues through their recruitment and
training programs. Psychometric testing in some form has been adopted by many
companies to try and identify the behavioral competencies needed for the future
Training requirements can only keep on increasing with the increased regulations.
Blended learning, Outcome Based Education and ‘On the job training’ will take on a
greater significance in the future.
Our industry, like others, is going through a transition and debate between the
believers of the traditional ‘good old ways’ and the futurists who are looking at
technology and modern human performance management theories to get ready for
But, there is no doubt that focusing on the human factor competencies is critical for
progress in our industry.
The maritime industry has only recently started looking at the human factor
competencies. One of the most significant amendments of the Manila Convention
(STCW 2010) was to incorporate competencies for leadership, teamwork and
Even the name of the IMO’s sub-committee on “Standards of Training and
Watchkeeeping (STW) has changed to “Human Element, Training and Watchkeping
(HTW)” in 2014