All at Sea - The Navigator Issue 21

01 Jun 2019 The Navigator

We welcome your news, comments and opinions on the topics covered in The Navigator

I write as an ancient mariner, some 28 years ashore and in my 70s. Having served for two years as Chief Executive of the UK Hydrographic at the key stages of ECDIS development, I have since kept a close eye on what its impact has been. It is easy for folk like me to claim that, before all this electronic wizardry was around, then we were real seamen navigating with sextant, chronometer and nautical tables.

Nevertheless, with the combination of multiple GPS inputs into ECDIS systems in integrated bridges, overlaid with ARPA and AIS, it is easy to see why officers who have no experience of how things ran before reach the conclusion that what they see on the screen is how it is. I certainly do not advocate that this readily available information should be ignored. However, it is worth remembering that the smartest computer on the bridge is the one in the OOW’s head. Looking out of the bridge windows, checking the bearing movement of other ships, observing wind and weather and, critically, taking a hard look at what the electronic aids to navigation are telling you, remain vital skills.

My plea as one whose involvement in maritime business spans an exciting half century of change, is that some of these traditional practices that served us well should not be forgotten. Used selectively, they are the ideal complement to the excellent systems that technological advances are providing.
Admiral Sir Nigel Essenhigh FNI Former First Sea Lord, Former Hydrographer of the Navy

Nineteen years ago, I wanted to enter nautical school, but my father didn’t allow me to. So, I ended up studying computer engineering and got a degree in 2005. I worked as an IT specialist for a year or so, but in 2007, guess what? I finally pursued my dream to become a sailor and ended up working as a Ship’s Clerk – a role that I have been in for 11 years now. I may be too old to enter nautical school at 35 years but that didn’t stop me dreaming of a career at sea!
Jerame Besas Ship’s Clerk, LNG/C Asia Excellence

Please look at the topics of working overside during preparation of the pilot ladder and rigging the combination ladder. There are a lot of safety issues involved, and the seafarer's and pilot's life are at risk. We are currently seeing a lot of material about bridge resources, oil pollution control and many other important issues… but this one seems to be lagging behind. Proper training and information are required for working overside.
Pankaj Gautam, 2nd Officer

Dear Pankaj, Thank you for highlighting this very important topic. The International Maritime Pilot’s Association have a lot of useful information on their website, including a poster on how to correctly rig a pilot ladder – The April 2019 MARS reports from The Nautical Institute include several that focus on the risks of working overside, taking draughts etc. You can find these at We hope these links are useful, and hope to post more information soon.
The Navigator team

Life onboard, more often than not, can be very tough. In order to be resilient, we must take care of our mental well-being through recreation. I find that The Navigator is a good read when I want to relax!
Gil Gerarcas, Songa Dream

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