MAIB: Get to Know Your Safety Critical Systems
The U.K. Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has released it's first digest of lessons learned from marine accidents for the year.
In his introduction to the digest, Andrew Moll, Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents, said: “When I took command of HMS York, the squadron navigator gave me some advice that has stayed with me throughout my seagoing career. Very simply, it was to check the emergency steering thoroughly before letting go to leave port or before entering pilotage waters on the way in.
“Doing this ensured that: everyone was closed-up in their correct position, the communications worked; the rudder angle indicator and gyro repeater in the steering gear compartment were reading correctly and, importantly, the secondary and local steering systems actually functioned.
“The first time we did this it was a right pain. By the time we were doing it for the third or fourth time everyone’s confidence in and knowledge of the system had increased immeasurably. When one day the primary steering system did fail as we made our way into harbor, we took it in our stride and berthed as if nothing had occurred.
“I’m putting this story in my introduction because this issue of the digest has many examples of accidents that could have been avoided altogether, or at least somewhat mitigated, had the individuals involved spent a bit more time getting to know the reversionary operating modes of their safety critical systems.
“When things are going wrong, the human endocrine system has a tendency to flood the body with adrenaline. This hormone dates from the time of our earliest ancestors. It is useful if you need to run away from a sabre-tooth tiger, but damn all help if you are trying to read some small print instructions by torchlight when the alarms are sounding all around you. So, please take the time to thoroughly learn your systems before the fur starts flying, and make a point of testing them before you need them.”
The digest is available here.