Safebridge – a new initiative in safety of navigation

With the coming switch to ECDIS navigating officers face more challenging software in the workplace than ever before. To ensure safety of navigation it is paramount each equipment unit is properly operated. A tough challenge considering AIS, ARPA, ECDIS and GMDSS may come from many different makers. For example, more than 20 manufacturers offer 30 different types of radars alone all with different interface layouts.

Only if correct and efficient handling of the bridge equipment is assured, can the safety of the ship also be assured. Safe carriage of the cargo, the safety of life and prevention of pollution are critical and dependent upon safe bridge operations. Officers’ competence plays a crucial part. This issue is being addressed by a new EU initiative. Speaking at a recent seminar project coordinator Prof Becker-Heins of the Bremen Shipping University said, “An approach to enhance faultless usage of watch-keeping equipment is of the utmost importance. We face a potential major disaster if officers do not fully understand the operational capabilities and limitations.

Generally officers receive type-specific training only during vocational education on just one or two systems. Once on board the hand-over time is limited before the relief will be at sea and in full charge of the vessel. Confronted with new equipment he is probably not familiarised with the radars, communication, navigation, safety or any other bridge equipment”.

The objective of SAFEBRIDGE is to advance classical CBT tools and knowledge management systems to a competence verification and training interface exactly replicating and integrating the desktop structure of the navigation consoles in question. To achieve this, a tool will be developed which is not a modified copy of the original application software but an autonomous applet mirroring certain screenshots of the application with a selected pre-defined operability. The competence verification and training tool will be completed by tutorial explanations / animations to illustrate the operation of the relevant control elements. Because trainees can learn directly on the console’s graphical interface the required knowledge is transferred immediately one-to-one to the real equipment and the real situation.

Becker-Heins says, “The key problem shipping faces today is how to accelerate the transition of cognitive knowledge to inherent experience. In other words, how to make the untrained and inexperienced perform better in a shorter period of time”.

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