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Captain Nick Nash, MNM CMMar FRGS FRIN FNI President of The Nautical Institute: Presidential address to NI Mumbai Branch (RN/MN Cooperation)
By Sea and Coast | 16/12/2019

Welcome to Mumbai's Nautical Institute's Seminar and with such a professional gathering of  Admirals, Commodores, Captains, Commanders  Naval and MN Officers and most importantly cadets has been brought together to create an exciting program, with a particular emphasis on Merchant Navy and Naval cooperation and training.

The Nautical Institute represents over 7000 maritime professionals from over 120 countries in 50 braches. We work constantly within our industry to ensure the highest levels of professional standards and competency in those who go down to the sea in ships and do their business on the great oceans of this world.

Our members contribute across these oceans in forums such as this to ensure the ongoing improvement in standards for seafarer education, training and crewing, in what ever navy and in every type of ship, including autonomous – and we may even have to have a special membership category for Robots!

More recently we have developed some bespoke short courses where we think we can contribute to professional standards and we continue to work very strongly in the energy sector through our Dynamic Positioning qualifications.

As an educational charity our promulgation of best practice by engaging with academia and through professional networking via our Branch membership

is very important and contributes to the Institute's success.

In 2022 the Nautical Institute will celebrate 50 years. The Institute is preparing for the anniversary with a range of global meetings and conferences where we will spread our professional message and strongly and as widely as possible.  Nearer the time we will decide on the key themes but recognize these might be different in various parts of the world

As I have recently written in Seaways, one of our main concerns at the NI is the encouragement of Junior Officers to be aware of the existence of The Nautical Institute and how it can work for them. Retention of these Officers, Masters, Commanding Officers and industry leaders of the future is paramount to our survival and as such they must be encouraged to join and make the Institute work for them in the way they want.

The role of a junior officer has changed dramatically over the last

30 years. No longer fixing the ship

with a sextant, DF bearings, Loran or Decca on paper charts, the ship's position is now continually displayed on ECDIS and the traffic situation by ARPA & AIS data all integrated with

on an updated multi vector chart. The ship is steered by a track system and the ships position, heading and speed along with weather are automatically recorded in an electronic log book.

Apart from the “Seaman like” constant monitoring of the ships position, traffic, weather and instruments a necessary part of watch keeping is record (log) keeping, even more so now than in the past. Typing up the electronic log with Environmental timelines, confirming Navigational key points (that Visual Clue!) and the time that relevant checklists are completed are a very important part of a watch keepers duties, despite automation of many of the routine entries – as an airbus pilot once remarked – He can't fly a plane manually anymore, but he can type at 40 words a minute!

So how does the Nautical Institute involve these youngsters in an organisation that was founded just under 50 years ago when Radar and VHF were the latest navigational Aids?

I think we have to be realistic and use terminology that they understand, looking out of the window is important but so is closely monitoring your electronic navigation displays and systems and understanding their complex displays, menus and limitations completely. The recently released NTSB report into 

the collision between US Navy Destroyer John S McCain and Tanker Alnic MC in the  Singapore Straits, 5 Miles Northeast of Horsburgh Lighthouse on August 21, 2017, clearly shows how poor training and lack of understanding of modern complex INS bridge systems can lead to serious accidents.

The report has been actioned by the US Navy, who will begin reverting destroyers back to a physical throttle and traditional helm control system in the next 18 to 24 months, after the fleet overwhelmingly said they prefer mechanical controls to touch screen systems. As someone who advocates New Technology, I feel this is a retrograde step. Having read the full report, possibly better training and understanding the complex systems, which are actually designed to assist, not hinder would be a better way forward.

We must recognize that we ARE becoming instrument navigators and as such must be able to fully use all the electronics we have to their best advantage. We can and should no longer talk of 'Radar and GNSS' as “Aids” to navigation, we will lose the youngsters if we do, in a similar way that they now get the news from online services as opposed to Newspapers, TV and radio broadcasts that the older generation does.

Having said this, we must all be aware of possible “cyber” attack and protect our INS from these and virus/malware invasions and must be fully practiced on visual fixing on ENS along with radar navigation techniques – radar is still the most reliable check and back up we have (Captain Paul Chapman has written some very good papers on its sometimes forgotten reliability and use – Seaways).

Talking of Navies, I am reminded of that great signal from Adm. Fletcher, the senior US admiral, who was in overall command of the impending Battle of Midway in  June1943 ... When Adm. Spruance requested further instructions from Adm. Fletcher for continuation of the battle after Fletcher abandoned the Yorktown, Fletcher advised Spruance that he would" conform to your movements." What a great way of recognizing and empowering a junior Officer, who had the better and importantly still intact carrier and signal, intelligence and command team.

We are following this in the Cruise industry and in my organization, Carnival Cruise Corporation, by introducing a new bridge organisation based on roles rather than ranks. The new organisation represented a new and more progressive approach to bridge management. Under this approach, the officers operate as an effective team in managing the bridge based on the specific roles with related functions and tasks needed to be followed and executed. The purpose is to create a more efficient, engaged and resilient organisation in which the team works as a well-coordinated unit to manage disturbances and avoid negative consequences.

The system builds on the airline industry's concept by introducing Navigator and Co-Navigator roles. The Navigator, who is conning the ship, is required to communicate intentions and orders to the Co-Navigator. Co-Navigator's tasks include monitoring, crosschecking and supporting the Navigator. In addition, each officer, regardless of rank, is empowered to speak up should he or she have a question or a concern.

This role-based bridge organization does not in any way diminish the authority and responsibility of the Captain. The Captain continues to maintain full oversight of the bridge and assigns officers to particular roles, based on the watch keeper's competence and experience with the upcoming operation. The Captain provides ongoing guidance to officers, making it a very adaptable system that leverages the knowledge and experience of the Captain and each of the officers. The Captain becomes a Leader/Manager instead of an operator.

This Role Based or Function Bridge is fully explained and trained to all Carnivals Officers and Captains who have to attend an annual weekly assessment and training update to maintain their positions – very similar to airline pilots. Indeed Carnival also has Check Captains – we term them Fleet Captains, who go around the fleet and assist, continue to train, improve and assess the Bridge and Engine teams operation while sailing.

Training is the key to the above and ensuring that ships officers get more realistic simulator time along with computer based training are the keys to ensure that Bridge Team management and shiphandling will be effectively taught, along with proper mentoring while at sea. The collaboration and integration of Bridge teams, Pilots and VTS, while making full use of new technologies will ensure that training lies at the heart of safety and best practice in the maritime industry.

The panel discussions and round tables are a vital part of this conference and allow us all to participate and gain the most from our excellent speakers and I do encourage us all take full advantage of these. Through this and other such conferences I do hope that we can influence all those 'Who go down to the sea' to ensure that they are well trained and competent.




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