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Human Error and Marine Accidents

Over the years, the technologies we use in our everyday lives have dramatically increased. However, the one most important system—we, the human beings—seem to be lagging behind the curve. Of the majority of the accidents at sea, the majority (if not all) of them were due to human error. This is rather alarming due to the simple fact that there is no update we can do for a human to make them better, more capable captains of ships. There’s no return process where we can just get a new one. So, how do we combat human error and avoid tragedies at seas?

First, we need to address what the real problems are. Many critics feel it’s safe to say that complacency and complete lack of situation awareness are the two main keys in these errors. Situation is awareness means you know what is going on around you, and you are able to accurately and quickly read a situation to determine its outcome. For instance, if a rock is in the middle of the ocean, you need to know to turn left or right of it to avoid it, knowing that if you hit it you’ll sink (you also need to be able to be aware enough to spot said rock). Complacency is simply being too comfortable – thinking that nothing will go wrong, or that you don’t have to do better.

How can you not have to do better when you’re in charge of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people’s lives? When you are promoted to the captain of a ship, it’s because (or should be) you are the most qualified to handle your passengers. They trust you to care for their lives and get them to their destination safely. In the case of cargo ships, the same principle is applied; your employer feels you are the most trusted individual to carry their product from point-a to point-b.

There are a number of ways to combat this often-times-deadly situation. Those in charge of the ship (the entire team) need to take suitability tests. Make sure the people you’re giving these enormous ships to, stocked with products and passengers, are truly capable of doing such in a safe and efficient way. Make sure they aren’t complacent and that they have strong (not adequate or mediocre) situation awareness. You can’t put a price on true safety.