National Academies Press: OpenBook

Crew Size and Maritime Safety (1990)

Chapter: 6. Conclusions and Recommendations

« Previous: 5. Legal and Regulatory Issues
Suggested Citation:"6. Conclusions and Recommendations." National Research Council. 1990. Crew Size and Maritime Safety. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1620.
Page 85
Suggested Citation:"6. Conclusions and Recommendations." National Research Council. 1990. Crew Size and Maritime Safety. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1620.
Page 86
Suggested Citation:"6. Conclusions and Recommendations." National Research Council. 1990. Crew Size and Maritime Safety. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1620.
Page 87
Suggested Citation:"6. Conclusions and Recommendations." National Research Council. 1990. Crew Size and Maritime Safety. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1620.
Page 88

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- 6 Conclusions and Recommendations SAFETY EXPERIENCE WITH SMALLER CREWS Analysis of national and worldwide maritime safety data supports the conclusion that the number of vessel casualties and personnel injuries has declined steadily over the past two decades. During the same period, average crew sizes have been substantially reduced. In gathering and analyzing worldwide maritime safety data, the committee was unable to establish a causal relationship between manning levels and safety. Available data on maritime safety are inadequate to support firm judgments about the contributions of various factors, such as crew levels, to safety. A worldwide effort is needed to standardize, gather, and evaluate safety data in order to identify trends and provide the technical basis for constructive management of maritime safety. The following developments are needed worldwide: · standardization of information about casualties, their causes, and their consequences; · collection of information about the exposure of ships to casualties, including data tabulated on the basis of ton-miles and numbers of port calls; and collection of comprehensive data, including size and organization of crews, on all vessels. RECOMMENDATION: The U.S. Department of Transportation, through 85

86 CREW SIZE AND MARITIME SAFETY the Coast Guard, should organize and lead a broad-based effort (interna- tional in scope) to gather, standardize, evaluate, and disseminate maritime safety data. TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION The pace of change continues. Foreign-flag fleets have set the pace at which new technologies are being adopted on ships. They have well planned, methodical programs to use technology effectively and safely, bringing crew levels in some cases down to the low teens. Innovation in the U.S. fleet is essential to competition. The way in which innovation is implemented will determine whether safety is helped or hindered. Above all, the U.S. fleet should leverage other countries' experience with their systematic programs in developing its own reduced crew ships of the future. Progress can be achieved only by close cooperation among all inter- ested parties, including ship operators, the seagoing work force, and the industry's safety and economic regulators. This collaborative effort should encompass training, research, evaluation and dissemination of information on international developments, and pilot programs under the U.S. hag. Government can serve as a catalyst in this effort, but the industry itself (including operators and labor) will need to lead. RECOMMENDATION: The industry, with the aid of the U.S. Department of Transportation, should implement a program to demonstrate the safety of changes in the crowing of ships. This program would have three elements: 1. a program focusing on (1) research oriented toward innovation in the application of new technology; (2) efforts to understand and apply foreign experience; and (3) research to determine how human factors, such as fatigue and stress, affect maritime safety; 2. a program to demonstrate and evaluate U.S.-flag ships of the future, leveraging other nations' experiences with ship of the future programs; and 3. a government-industry-labor forum to oversee developments in the manning of ships. As a first step, the Department of Transportation should call a meeting of senior executives of ship operating companies and maritime labor unions to determine the extent of interest in this initiative and to discuss its leadership. An important outcome of this process will be the definition of specific developments needed in training programs and maritime licensing. HUMAN FACTORS AND SAFETY CERTIFICATION The introduction of new technology should consider ships as sociotech- nical systems, consisting of personnel, technology, organizational structures,

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 87 and an external environment. Change in any of these four subsystems should suggest appropriate changes in the others. New vessel technology coupled with appropriate training, organiza- tional innovations, and ergonomic design can enhance safety. For example, these approaches can reduce potential problems of stress, fatigue, and boredom. The U.S. Coast Guard and other national ship safety administrations do not presently have the necessary human factors analysis methods to make solid certification decisions on minimum safe manning for highly automated ships. In establishing safe crew levels, government and industry need to consider demands on the crews on different vessels, taking into account specialized technologies, type of service, skills required, and quality of management. Formal analytical methods need to be incorporated into the establishment of safe crew levels and the consequent issuance of Certificates of Inspection (COIs). Lack of an analytical approach has led to inconsistent COI determinations and has made it difficult for the Coast Guard to exercise its port state control authorities. RECOMMENDATION: The Coast Guard should institute formal analytical methods, such as the functional analysis approach suggested in Chapter 4, in making manning decisions. RECOMMENDATION: In the vessel certification process for vessels em- ploying new manning concepts, each operator should conduct a thorough assessment of shipboard functions and tasks required by the particular vessel and should submit a functional analysis (with specified crew num- bers and structure, skills and training, voyage profiles, and operational and maintenance plans) to the Coast Guard for approval. Upon conditional approval by the Coast Guard, vessels should be subjected to such sea trials as the Coast Guard deems appropriate, with logs of crew activities. Data from the trials should be used to validate the results obtained from the model. TRAINING AND LICENSING The skills needed to operate ships are changing with advances in technology. Lines dividing deck and engine departments are fading, along with the need for engine room watch-keeping. The importance of individual and team skills is increasing as crews are reduced. These changes need to be reflected in training programs and licensing requirements. Gaining programs must reflect not only technical skills required, but subjects such as management of personnel and communications. Licensing requirements must become more specialized to reflect the differences in

88 CREW SIZE AND MARITIME SAFETY vessel type and service and to require periodic recertification of skills to ensure that crew members develop and retain necessary qualifications. The certification and licensing of general purpose ratings, dual-qualified officers and watch officers should be established to reflect the changing ship organizational structure. LEGAL AND REGULATORY ISSUES While U.S. manning laws have not been a major impediment to crew reduction aboard U.S.-flag vessels to date, they have led to needless in- efficiency and complexity and to unwarranted obstacles to most effective manning that realizes the benefits of new ship operating technology. Fur- thermore, it is clear that these statutes will effectively prohibit manning reductions below current levels regardless of the opportunities offered by technology, such as those evident in state-of-the-art foreign-flag vessels. Thus, while not a major problem in the past, these statutes will block innovation and competitiveness in the future. Even more important, existing manning laws do not directly address safety. They do not have a clear underlying safety intent, and therefore inhibit innovation without affording real gain in safety. The little guidance available is informal and administrative. RECOMMENDATION: The manning laws of the United States should be modernized in line with the following objectives: · Incorporate a statement of congressional intent linking vessel man- ning and safety. Remove unwarranted barriers to innovation (such as requirements for three watches where impractical or not needed). Establish a clear federal role in reviewing the safety of vessel man- ning practices by (1) authorizing the overhaul of the licensing system; (2) ratifying the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certifi- cation and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, (3) establishing a uniform COI issuance process; and (4) reviewing the need for work-hour limitations that provide real protection of crew members' health and environmental safety.

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U.S. oceangoing vessels have half the crew size of 30 years ago, thanks to automation and mechanization in the shipping industry. But are reductions in crew size increasing the risk of vessel accidents? Crew Size and Maritime Safety explores how we can minimize risk without hindering technology, presenting the most thorough analysis available of key issues such as domestic versus foreign manning practices and safety performance; effect of crew size on crew fatigue, level of training, and ship maintenance; and modernizing the U.S. Coast Guard approach to crew size regulation.

The volume features a trend analysis of 20 years of maritime safety data, analyzing U.S. and international laws and treaties concerning ship manning and making recommendations for improvements. In addition, it includes a model for setting optimum crew levels, based on systems engineering and tested with actual ships.

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