Take 10: Issue 1

01 Oct 2012 The Navigator

This first issue of The Navigator has looked at the navigator’s role in detail, from the importance of mentoring and support to the consequences of allowing attention to wander on the bridge. Here are ten reasons why we should celebrate navigators the world over, and ways in which we can work to ensure they remain supported, motivated and encouraged while at sea.

1 The importance of being human

Navigation equipment is increasingly becoming automated; however critical decisions must still be made by competent human navigators.

2 A whole world of trade

Ships transport over 90% of global trade. The world depends on those ships’ navigational officers for safe and efficient transport.

3 Motivation, motivation, motivation

Professional navigators must be motivated in order to be competent. Training alone is not enough to ensure that individuals remain motivated and have self-confidence in their abilities.

4 Shifting goalposts

We are currently in an era of unprecedented rapid change in the maritime industry. Changes in technology, regulation, public scrutiny and demand for ocean space mean that it is essential for navigators to continually learn and update themselves. In other words, to sign up to the process known as continuing professional development (CPD).

5 The human factor

Seamanship skills and experiential knowledge are essential. Navigational equipment cannot ‘feel’, therefore we rely on human navigators to interpret information, based upon their instinct, knowledge and experience.

6 Carry on mentoring

While the basic principles of seamanship can be taught in the classroom, seamanship can only be mastered through years of experience at sea. Onboard mentoring, or sharing knowledge from one individual to another, is crucial for developing navigational skills, as well as creating an environment where individuals are valued.

7 Something old; something new

Traditional skills and new techniques are both necessary for safe and efficient navigation. It is important to know both and apply the correct balance.

8 Common sense

Maintaining situational awareness is the essence of safe navigation. This is not only done visually, but via all the senses feeling a ship’s motion and being aware of sounds and smells. Fundamentally, the most important thing is to keep a holistic view based on judgement and common sense.

9 Stay alert

Many accidents at sea happen due to complacency. One report estimated that 60% of collisions happened when either one or both vessels failed to detect each other until it was too late. There are many distractions on a bridge and it can be tempting to let automation take over. Find ways to manage alertness; a collision at sea can ruin your whole day!

10 Other people's shoes

When avoiding collisions and applying the Collision Regulations (COLREGS), it is always useful to imagine your actions from the perspective of other vessels. What are they seeing right now?