CHIRP Maritime Releases Critical Decision Making Guidance

Published Sep 9, 2019 5:19 AM by The Maritime Executive

The confidential reporting program CHIRP Maritime has published a paper titled Making Critical Decisions at Sea - a summary of findings and recommendations in collaboration with the Arts & Sciences and Neuroscience Departments at University College London. 

The paper includes recommendations important for seafarers, managers and maritime regulators. It is principally aimed at operational mariners as a guide to improving the decision making process by encouraging a more inclusive team environment. The “cockpit culture” scenario of uncontested hierarchy (otherwise known as crew resource management) is where subordinates are less likely to question their superiors which in turn increases the possibility of negative-result decision making. 

The guide is also relevant to shore management from where the master may be subject to duress which in turn may lead to poor onboard critical decision making.

The study considers the interaction of team-work, the cultural influences of different crew members, variances in training, experience and qualification, all of which may influence critical decision making. It promotes the “positive error culture” as a suggested way forward and makes comparisons with other safety critical industries.

“As seafarers, our desire to get the job done despite the possible consequences of increased risk can lead to catastrophic consequences,” says Captain Jeff Parfitt, Director (Maritime) CHIRP. “It is hoped that this guide may go some way to encouraging team members, regardless of their discipline, to engage with the decision making process and thereby contribute and build a better team environment. The ability to perceive the world around us and to make decisions, both individually and as a crew, is crucial for us to carry out our jobs and to avoid or respond to emergency situations.

“Knowing and understanding these issues and knowing how to avoid them is the route to first class and ever-improving seamanship, helping to make our ships more efficient and keeping our seas safe.”

The paper follows the release of Perception, Decision Making and Fatigue at Sea in 2018. The publication proved highly successful and was distributed on a global basis highlighting the effects of fatigue on watchkeepers' vision which in turn may affect perception and any resultant decision making.

The report and accompanying video can be downloaded from CHIRP Maritime here.

The project was funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation.