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“Navigational Safety On Mega Passenger Ships — Highest Priority”
By Gustaf Gronberg
Vice President Nautical Department
Star Cruises
06"‘ November 2001
The Growth Of The Leisure Industry
In the past twenty-five years, the cruise industry has posted an annual growth at
a rate of 10+ percent and the number of passengers have just sky rocketed. It is
estimated that 10 million or more will be carried this year. It is also estimated
that 50 new cruise ships are on order with another 30 on option. Cruise ships
carrying 3,000 — 4,000 passengers and crew is now commonplace.
Asia-Pacific has seen a dramatic rise of its cruise industry over the last few years.
This growth is attributable to the introduction of exciting megaships and new
itineraries. The cruise industry is unique as this is one industry where capacity
spurs demand.
In Asia, Star Cruises, now “The First Global Cruise Line”, is poised to increase
its dominance in Asia-Pacific after spending 8 years pioneering first-time cruises,
establishing routes, proactively developing cruise infrastructures and facilities,
educating and marketing irmovative cruise products that appeal to all spectrum
of consumers. Star Cruises currently commands 70% of the market in Asia-
Pacific with ships calling at over 35 destinations carrying over 5.5 million
passengers since its inception. The recent acquisition of Norwegian Cruise
Lines (NCL) by Star Cruises has created interest from seasoned world cruisers
who will now have the opportunity to cruise globally. Cruising on an Asian ship
also allows Americans and Europeans opportunities to discover Asians’ unique
culture, foods, people and arts while enjoying warm Asian hospitality.
As the market matures, various factors will attract more Asians to cruising.
New ships in the pipeline will offer more exciting products and unimaginable
luxury. Cruising is also hassle-free, comfortable and safe. Its value-for-money
concept and affordable luxury cliché of an all-inclusive vacation will appeal to
all age groups and backgrounds. Cruising is also seen as an exciting alternative
to a predictable land vacation.

 
In Asia-Pacific, cruising is quickly shedding its stereotypical image as a
vacation option for the elderly. Statistics point to a relatively younger median
age. The typical Asian cruiser is not retired, has a stable job and takes cruising
as a family vacation largely due to the fact that modern cruise ships in Asia-
Pacific are purpose-built offering a fanfare of activities for both adults and
children and the option to do nothing at all.
Cruise ships in Asia-Pacific attract a healthy mix of first-time and experienced
 
cruises fiom Europe, United Kingdom, Australia, Asia, India and the United
States. This diversity ensures an international experience for vacationers.

Navigational Safety — Highest Priority
Safety for the passengers and crew on a cruise ship has always received the
highest priority as it carries the most valuable cargo of all, PEOPLE. Despite
the cruise industry’s exemplary safety records, it is subject to intensive media
scrutiny even of the most minor mishap. An accident on a cruise ship reflects
the image of the whole industry and several recent incidents involving highly
reputable cruise companies clearly indicate that there are issues that needs to be
addressed to tackle the causes of the incidents. Today, large cruise ships are
very modern with the latest technology on the bridge, state of the art fire
detection and extinguishing systems, etc. A lot of efforts and money have been
s
pent to build the ships with technology driven solutions and maybe not enough
consideration are given to the human element, the people operating the
equipment.

Under the International Maritime Organization (IMO) International Safety
Management Code (ISM) Code ships are required to develop and implement
bridge procedures as part of the required overall Safety Management System
(SMS). The IMO Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping
Convention (STCW'95) lays down guidelines for training, certification, fatigue
and even permissible levels of alcohol for watchkeepers. The Intemational
Chamber of Shipping (ICS) ‘Bridge Procedures Guide’ provides the shipping
industry with guide lines for developing bridge procedures. The Code,
Convention and the Guide deal in a general way with bridge procedures; the
detail and specifics are left to the individual ship and /or the shipping company.
This implies some variation in interpretation and standards.

Star Cruises ships operates in some of the most congested waters of the world
such as Singapore, Malacca Straits, Hong Kong, Hainan and Taiwan Straits and
the Japanese Inland Sea. With the responsibility for protecting the lives of
passengers and crew in this environment, Star Cruises at the very outset
consciously made the decision to aim for the ‘highest possible standard‘ in
developing a safety management system including bridge procedures for
operating its vessels. As a model of ‘best practice‘ Star Cruises adopted the SMS
model developed and used by the corporate airline industry that has a similar
profile with regard to responsibility for passengers and crew.

 
The SMS model used in the airline industry in general but particularly in the
corporate airlines sector is a more sophisticated approach to safety. There are
good reasons to respect the quality and integrity of a system that is used in an
environment where most failures (human or technical) are very likely to lead to
 
the demise of the operator and the total destmction of the craft. There is nothing
as focused as self- interest and more urgent than self-preservation. The
corporate airline model incorporates both human factors and technologically
driven approaches to safety.

 
Safety Policy
As an essential first step it is imperative that there is a commitment to safety in
the boardroom of a cruise company that is understood and implemented at the
operational level. Any sensible chief executive of a cruise company will
unilaterally and emphatically declare a total commitment to safety as a prime
concern. This is the easy part; the difficult part is to convey this in a way that
influences practice on the ship. It should be understood that because of the need
to attend to different immediate priorities there is a wide gap between the
boardroom and the ship. This gap can only closed by conscious effort and
consultation. In Star Cruises there has been a lot of effort expended in closing
the gap between the boardroom and the ship. Consequently officers and crew
understand there is a commitment to safety at the highest levels and that their
ideas, concerns etc. will be listened to and acted upon.

 
Risk Analysis and Management
Although records indicate that fire is the most common mishap, this threat has
been considerably reduced by the latest highly effective detection and
extinguishing systems installed in modern cruise ships. With cruise ships getting
larger and larger the greatest threat to safety is a collision and/or grounding that
can result in uncontrolled flooding and consequent loss of life and property.
Superstar Leo, cruising to China and Vietnam from Hong Kong, can carry 4240
persons onboard. In October this year we took delivery of a cruise vessel with
the capacity to carry 5,400 persons on a short international voyage. The
problems of having to evacuate these large numbers should have the effect of
acutely concentrating our minds on ways of reducing the risk of an occurrence
that will demand such an emergency measure.
The management of risk requires the careful selection and utilization of modem
navigation aids to provide information for decision making combined with equal
attention to the human element. The human element involves selection of the
right persons, training (technical and human factors) and attention to ergonomics.
Also required is the development of procedures and establishing practices that
recognize our limitations and put in place defenses to detect and contain errors.
In this regard there is a need to acknowledge that even the most professional
 
person is capable of making the worst mistake and that an error free
environment belongs to the realms of fantasy.

Best Practice
Star Cruises’ goal is to be the safest cruise line in the world with the best trained
persomiel working in ships with optimum levels of advanced ergonomically
designed equipment and using the most highly developed operational and
emergency procedures. In other words we aim to set the standards for best
practice in the cruise industry.
In order to achieve this goal Star Cruises has proactively taken a number of
initiatives. Of these the procurement of an in-house world class bridge simulator
to Star Cruises‘ special specifications is the most significant. This simulator is
used for port studies, ship familiarisation and training. It is also used for
developing and consolidating operational and emergency procedures.

 
Star Cruises Ship Simulator (SCSS)
Star Cruises is the first shipping company to design, own and operate a full
mission bridge simulator with an Integrated Bridge System. It is a unique
training tool where emphasis has been placed on realistic simulation. The
simulator bridges are a replica of those on the cruise ships and also incorporate
similar navigational instruments. This enables officers to develop high order
'reversionary skills‘ in the use of back-up systems and strategies. Being able to
practice reversion to back-up systems and a wide range of equipment
malfunction/s opens up a new dimension in navigational training. Benefits from
training in the recognition, detection and consequences of failure modes of the
equipment have been acknowledged in the aviation sector for many years.
Environmental conditions like wind, current, fog, rain, day and night as well as
ships’ interaction and bank effects can be simulated. Any port database and
ships’ mathematical model can be developed at the simulator facility. (The
facility uses DMI’S mathematical ship models. These models are at present
being used in more than 50 simulator centres around the world).
The Star Cruises’ Ship Simulator Center is jointly managed by the Danish
Maritime Institute with 3 full time experienced Instructors based in Port Klang.
This arrangement ensures that Star Cruises with regional knowledge and culture
is linked with 30 years’ of experience and knowledge in the maritime simulation,
training, hmnan factors, research and ship and harbor design.

 
Human Factors
Most analyses show that about 80% of accidents in shipping and almost every
other industry are a result of a breakdown in human factors. Analyses also show
that nearly all navigational accidents such as collisions and grounding are
caused by human errors. Yet, in spite of this figure, the efforts of all training
 
programs, until recently, have ignored human factors. Training programs have
focused almost entirely on developing individual teclmical skills and experience.
To achieve the ‘highest possible standard‘ this serious deficiency often referred
as the ‘last frontier‘ of the safety problem must be addressed. This can be made
up with officers undertaking special human factors based training.
It is mandatory for all Star Cruises officers to undertake a 5 days human factors
based Crew Resource Management (CRM) Course that includes CRM
application exercises in a full mission simulator. A 2 days ‘refresher' CRM
Course has been developed as a follow up training for those persons who have
completed the 5 days course.

 
Selecting the right people
Towards the aim of achieving the highest standard selecting persons with the
right qualifications, experience, aptitude and attitude is critical.
In a few select areas such as aviation industry, the nuclear industry, the space
industry and the armed forces that incorporate extremely expensive and
potentially dangerous equipment it has been recognised that the role of the
human operator is one of critical elements in the safety system. These industries
have understood the importance of selecting the right person for the role and
have developed selection criteria for this purpose. The shipping industry in
general and the cruise vessels in particular are in a similar situation and needs to
recognise and practically address this issue.
All persons applying for officers‘ positions in Star Cruises are required to
undergo psychological assessment. One of the main tools used is the Defense
Mechanism Test that has been effectively used by the Swedish Air Force.
Basically we are looking for people with professional qualifications and
experience who can coordinate activities, learn from their mistakes and accept
advice from others.
Star Cruises through Marine Profile has been using this system for selection
since 1996. Of 460 applicants employed after assessment only 2% of the officers
failed to meet the required standards. This system of selection has led to low
turnover resulting in continuity of employment and increased safety.

 
Drug and Alcohol Policy
There is a stringent zero level tolerance of drugs and alcohol that applies to all
ship‘s staff. This is checked by regular unannounced visits by a medical
contractor who tests the master and the five senior most officers on each
occasion plus 25% of the ships complement at random. Star Cruises has a policy
of zero percent level of alcohol for watchkeeping officers in contrast to the limit
of 0.08% permitted Lmder the lMO's latest STCW convention.

Minimum Bridge Manning and Task Distribution
 
The bridge is always mamied by a minimum of 2 officers, a system that has been
tried and proved over a period of 8 years in the very congested waters that Star
Cruises ships operate in. During pilotage and at other times when the
circmnstances demand the manning is increased to 4 officers with the addition

of the Staff Captain and Captain. To effectively manage the workload and
reduce the risk of errors going undetected when the Captain and Staff Captain
are on the bridge there is a clear task allotment among the bridge team members.

 
Pilot-Co-pilot System
As a form of risk management the Pilot-Copilot system is strictly adhered to. All
actions are planned and only executed after confirmation between the 2 officers
in accordance with ‘closed-loop‘ communication procedures. The Pilot-CoPilot
system of watchkeeping greatly increases the possibility of detecting human
errors and is a comer stone in Star Cruises error management methodology.

Fatigue Management
Star Cruises has shortened officers‘ shipboard working periods to 10 weeks
followed by 10 weeks vacation. Also officers are rostered so that only one of the
two watchkeeping officers is relieved every 2hours. The aim is to guard against
fatigue and for officers to remain fully alert and maintain the highest vigilance
when on watch.

 
Red Zone Operation
To reduce distractions on the bridge to a minimum during navigation in confmed
waters a Red Zone Operation is declared. Telephone calls are diverted from the
bridge and no visitors are allowed.

Planning
As part of its strategy of risk management prior to considering a new port Star
Cruises conducts a feasibility study. All information on the port is gathered to
develop a database that is used to create a model of the port in the simulator.
Simulation studies are then carried out to determine size of ship and guidelines
with regard to minimum channel width, turning circles, underkeel clearance,
maximum current and wind etc. for the port. In some cases the port has to be
advised on the need to dredge, re-survey channels, strengthen jetties and
requirements for special mooring requirements and additional navigation marks.
As port environments differ the guidelines also vary. Also seasonal changes
have are taken into account.One of the challenges for cruise companies operating
in Asia is the lack of accurate information for some ports. Use of unreliable and/or
outdated data can lead to a very serious accident. To overcome this problem
Star Cruises’ uses its own resources. In one case Star Cruises was instrumental in
having an up to date vector electronic chart date chart developed for a river port.
Validation of this project was achieved by the head of the nautical department accompanying
personnel from the contracted company ADVETO on the 48 nautical miles
stretch of river. Together they checked and confirmed the positions of 120 buoys,
jetties, lighthouses, etc to the WGS 84 datum using a high-end portable DGPS
receiver. A visual database was also compiled and the pilots from the port
invited to train with the bridge team and determine operating parameters and
roles for the actual pilotage. The visit to the port was made without incident. The
ship stayed within the predetermined parameters and confinned the value of this

approach.

 
Relationship between the Pilot and Bridge Team in Cruise Ships with
Advanced Bridges

In terms of operational safety it is critical that the working relationship between
the pilot and bridge team is managed properly. This is receiving some attention
in the shipping industry at large but there are some special problems in this
regard with cruise ships that need to addressed. Many cruise vessels have
advanced integrated navigation systems that remain unused because some pilots
lack the familiarity, teclmical knowledge and skills to use the equipment during
pilotage. With no accepted standards for training and technical specifications of
the equipment Port Authorities are sceptical about the claims of the ship and
generally insist on the pilot being allowed to conduct the pilotage using
traditional techniques. This is a very unsatisfactory situation as it defeats the
purpose of having the equipment, reduces safety margins and is a potential cause
of conflict between the pilot and the bridge team.
The experience of Star Cruises in this regard may be of benefit to other cruise
companies. Star Cruises operates vessels with a high level of advanced
technologies and complementary safety management systems. The very nature
of the company's business demands the highest standards of operational safety.
The company uses specially developed criteria for selecting staff and has its own
training centre equipped with a sophisticated bridge simulator. The centre is
used to develop and simulate the most optimum passage plans and operational
procedures for the areas of operation of Star Cruises‘ vessels including ports.
Star Cruises ships are equipped with advanced integrated bridges, voyage data
recorders and the officers trained to a very high level in both BRM and technical
skills including precision navigation. These skills are checked and validated on a
 
continuous basis by examining and reviewing the data from the voyage data
recorder. The use of the above data to develop effective and realistic simulator
 
training exercises and amend and refine passage plans and procedures
effectively ‘close loops‘ this system.
Using such a system creates a problem with regard to operating in compulsory

pilotage scheme in which the 'con‘ of the vessel is required to be handed over to
the pilot. If Star Cruises agreed to this mode the advanced technology for
enabling precision navigation would not be used and BRM unlikely to be
practiced, as most pilots have not done the training. This would seriously
compromise the safety system developed with so much effort and care and dilute
risk management to an unacceptable level.
Star Cruises understands the difficult situation that this places port authorities in.
It does not ask the port authorities to take the training and expertise of the bridge
team and safety management systems of Star Cruises at face value. Star Cruises
invites Port Authorities to send their pilots to train on the simulator at the
training centre. The pilot can get an understanding and appreciation of the
bridge equipment, precision navigation techniques, passage planning and
procedures during simulated port entries and departures. This gives the pilot the
opportunity to provide input to establish the optimum route for the passage and
determine his role in the bridge team and his specific contribution of knowledge
and skills towards achieving a safe and efficient pilotage. This approach has
been accepted in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and other countries and has been
of mutual benefit to both Port Authorities and Star Cruises.

 
Realistic Crisis and Emergency Training
The company’s versatile simulator at Port Klang has a cockpit layout, real
instruments with controls and back-up systems that are the same as those fitted
aboard the company’s ships. The simulator facilities and training system have
been established to provide maximum realism. This includes the use of real
incidents and near misses as a basis for exercises. There is an emphasis on
training bridge persormel to manage the most difficult emergency situations,
including equipment failures where back-up systems and/or alternative strategies
must be used. Also the simulators are cormected to the ‘Stress Centre‘. The
‘Stress Centre’ is fitted with extensive cormmmication facilities and in
combination with the simulators is used to train Star Cruises officers in the
management of large- scale emergencies that involve interaction with port
services and shore personnel.

 
Tailor-made Officers’ Training Program
Star Cruises and the Danish Maritime Institute have developed a new, holistic
training philosophy. In this sense training programs can cover an officer’s entire
career, from selection and recurrent training, through to special training prior to
promotion to senior onboard management positions.

 
Voyage Data Recorder (VDR)
Star Cruises is amongst the first shipping organisations to adopt the
foreshadowed IMO requirement for the carriage of a VDR by ships. The
requirement will come into force on ls‘ July 2002 for new passenger ships and
existing RO-R0 ships.
Star Cruises embarked on its VDR program in 1996. Since then the VDR has
developed into a vital tool in promoting navigational safety within the fleet.
The VDRs replay system is installed in the Simulator Centre in Port Klang and
provides a unique tool, not available previously to conveniently analyze near
misses and unexpected occurrences and create realistic simulator exercises based
on these events.
Data recorded by the VDR include ship’s position, speed and drift, heading,
conversations on the bridge and in the engine control room, ship to ship
communication, information from two radars, echo sounder, rudder order and
response sensors, wind speed and direction and video from surveillance cameras.
The data is automatically stored for 48 hours.
In future with the installation of VDRs onboard, it will be much easier for
accident investigators to determine the cause of an accident. And, by listening
to the recordings of the bridge communications, the relationship and team work
between the Pilot and the ship’s bridge team will also be able to be analyzed.
The capability to record, replay, analyze incidents and recreate scenarios will be
a very big improvement to the present situation. Star Cnlises is already using
this VDR technology for this purpose resulting in a very big improvement in the
quality and effectiveness of training.

 
Incident/Accident Database
Training is continuously revised and refined according to a ‘near-miss’ database
collected through reports from officers of real events, by analyzing external
accident/incidents reports, feedback during the CRM refresher training and
results from officer’s performance evaluation. Incident Reports recorded on a
ship's VDR can now be sent out on Video Compact Disc (VCD to the other
ships in the fleet allowing for playback and review by the bridge team using a
PC.

Accurate Satellite Positioning System
Star Cruises recognizes the importance of being able to receive the GPS
differential correction signal QJGPS) so as to be able to improve positioning and
velocity accuracy but particularly as a means of monitoring the integrity of the
GPS system. (Integrity monitoring of such a critical system as GPS is a vital part
of risk management). The improved accuracy from DGPS corrections is
important when manoeuvring the ships in narrow port entrances and channels.
 
There are only two local shore-based DGPS reference stations in South East
Asia (Singapore and Hong Kong). These stations only provide limited coverage.
To overcome this limitation Star Cruises has installed special equipment on
board to receive the correction signal from the SeaStar Wide Area DGPS system.
This is a wide area subscription service that provides the correctional signal via
Inmarsat and is available in all the areas where Star Cruises ships operate.

Optimal Bridge Layouts
The layout of the ships‘ bridges is designed with the active involvement of Star
Cruise's captains so as to increase effectiveness and safety. Bridge layout
includes an ergonomically designed cockpit as the command and control center
of the ship.


 
   
Summary
A serious accident in one cruise ship can colour public perceptions and have a
harmful effect on the whole industry. It is in the common interest of the whole
industry to have a good safety record. With responsibility for the lives of
thousands of persons and huge financial implications it is critically important for
the cruise industry to develop and implement the highest standards. This is
similar to the situation in the airline industry.
The cruise industry cannot depend on IMO to develop these standards. The ISM
Code and STCW'95 alone are not sufficient to cover the stringent operational
requirements of cruise vessels. The cruise industry must develop these standards
by using the airline industry model combined with details and specifics derived
from operational experience.
With this paper, I have in short described the pro-active approach that Star
Cruises have taken to Navigational Safety which we feel is the most important
safety issue to be addressed when cruising in the South East Asian congested
waters.
The huge investment by Star Cruises on the state-of the-art facility Simulator
Center, commitment to install VDRs, rigorous selection methods of Officers,
two Officers on watch and zero alcohol policy Lmderscores our believe that the
cruise industry should attain as high a safety profile as that of the aviation
industry.
Nautical Institute HKG Branch Seminar 2001 “the port of Hong Kong Past,
Present & Future” — 30.11.01
 


Referernces
 
International Maritime Organization (IMO) International Safety Management
Code
International Maritime Organization (IMO) ST C W’95 Convention
International Chamber of Shipping (1998) Bridge Procedures Guide
Hawkins, F.H. (1987), Human Factors in Flight, Ashgate Publishing, Aldershot
Hederstrom, H. & Gylden. S (1992), Safer Navigation in the 90's, Integrated
Bridge Systems, SASMEX April 1992, London
National Research Council, (1994), Minding the Helm, Marine Navigation and
Piloting, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
Nijjer, R. (2000), Bridge Resource Management: The Missing Link, Sea
Australia Conference, Sydney (February 2000).
Pelecanos, S. (2000), The Future Maritime Pilot, Keynote Address, Loodswezen
Conference 2000, Ijmuiden, Netherlands
Reason, J. (1997), Reducing the Risk of Organizational Accidents, Ashgate
Publishing, Aldershot.
Postal Address:

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updated
20 November 2022
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