Marine Log

May 23, 2006

Are computer games causing marine accidents?

"It is frustrating that some officers, who are well trained, have good equipment and are well supported, still ignore instructions and fail to apply basic professional principles," says Britain's Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents, Stephen Meyer.

" We have had many accidents where the Officer of the Watch (OOW) has been so distracted by paperwork, chart corrections, mobile phone calls, and even computer games, that they have failed to watch the radar, look out of the window, or alter course at a waypoint," says Meyer in his foreword to the latest annual report of the U.K. Marine Accident Investigation Branch.

Meyer says that because of complacency "few OOWs fully use their equipment to support them: waypoint alarms, auto tracking of contacts, CPA/TCPA limits and depth alarms are rarely set, which effectively removes key safety nets for the OOW. Additionally, a high proportion of those involved in collisions and groundings have sent their lookout below, even if it is in direct contravention of company instructions and STCW. Some of the OOWs have, themselves, left the bridge".

"Having identified the problem of complacency," says Meyer, "the thornier question is how to address it. There is no easy answer, but tackle it we must. I intend to take forward the issue with industry and training colleges in the next year."