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The Nautical Institute‘s Captain André L Le Goubin MA FNI joins us to discuss the benefits of sharing and transferring mariners’ experiential knowledge to both port authorities and the next generation of mariners. Capt Le Goubin has extensive experience both at sea and ashore. He was awarded the British Merchant Navy Medal for services to the maritime industry and The Nautical Institute in October 2013.
Today’s vessels are very different from your first merchant ship and today’s mariners face challenges which are both old and new. Looking specifically at safe anchorage, what are some of the key requirements for today’s mariners? The key requirement for today’s mariner has not changed over the years, that is to anchor in a place where they feel safe. In the same manner as with a safe port, a mariner needs to be able to enter, stay and depart an anchorage safely. Notwithstanding that, much has changed, including the size and number of the ships using the anchorage and sometimes the size of the port, which may have grown but not increased the size of their anchorages. This can lead to congestion and added risk to today’s mariners. Not only the ships have changed, the Masters’ role has changed significantly over the years since I first went to sea. For example, there are times when a Master needs to anchor his ship so that the staff can rest and keep within requirements of the latest hours of rest regulations. How can a Master rest when he does not feel safe in the available anchorage?
Although the mariner is the primary end user, how can port authorities benefit from developing anchorages from the mariner’s perspective?
There are significant benefits from incorporating advice from mariners in developing anchorages but none more so than safety and the avoidance of marine accidents. A major accident just outside a port can be catastrophic for the area, especially if it results in major pollution, short or long term closure of the port and the corresponding reputation issues.
The 2012 IHMA Congress looked at the role of maritime experience. Why do you believe the occurrence of marine accidents and incidents in anchorages is increasing worldwide?
I believe that experiential knowledge, that is knowledge gained from experience and reflected upon, is not being transferred onboard today’s modern merchant ships in the way it used to be, by mentoring, and this is leading to accidents and incidents. In my presentation at the upcoming IHMA Congress I will support this statement and give examples where I believe lack of experiential knowledge was the primary cause of an accident. One reason for the increase is that on many ships today it is a company requirement that the most senior officer (the Chief Officer) is on the forecastle of the ship whenever the anchor is used. In my opinion this is completely wrong; the Chief Officer should be on the bridge with the Master learning how to anchor a ship under supervision. A junior officer should be fully capable, after suitable training, to let go and weigh the anchor.
One of the major pieces of feedback that I have received is that on some ships the concept of mentoring needs to be introduced rather than re-introduced and I now believe that in some cases we have completely missed a generation of mariners. That makes it imperative that we start educating the maritime community on the need for mentoring and transferring experiential knowledge as a matter of urgency. This can only work if it is voluntary and must not be legislated. People must want to be mentors and transfer their knowledge voluntarily, they must not feel that they are being pressured into it and that their performance as a mentor will be assessed or judged.
As an industry, what can be done to improve the situation?
If everyone, no matter what their position within the maritime community, took just 10 minutes out of their busy schedule to pass a piece of their knowledge on the resultant effect would be enormous. Returning to anchorages, listen to the mariners, they will share their experiential knowledge with you willingly if given the opportunity as they did with me during the research I undertook for my paper and presentation. As with mentoring, there is no designated reward for the effort but I believe that it is inheritably within every mariner to pass their knowledge on when the opportunity arises.
With the aim of challenging port authorities to develop (or re-develop) anchorages with a strong focus on safety, security and efficiency, the Nautical Institute conducted research its members on what today’s mariners really require from an anchorage to safely anchor their vessels and remain at anchor, sometimes for a substantial amount of time, at any time of the year. To hear more, Capt Le Goubin will provide a review of Nautical Institute’s research on anchorages for today’s vessels at the IHMA Congress in Bruges on the 27 May 2014.