CHIRP Maritime Looks to a Bright Future


Published Jan 1, 2017 6:41 PM by John Rose

The Charitable Trust CHIRP (Confidential Hazardous Incident Reporting Programme) has enjoyed an extraordinary year; its quarterly publication Maritime FEEDBACK now has an estimated 200,000 readers from 45 countries.  Most important, the number of reports received has quadrupled from those received just four years ago.

In the final quarter of the year, CHIRP completed a major improvement to the website www.chirpmaritime.org  which now enables people to use a ‘word search’ of all the past editions of Maritime FEEDBACK, allowing them to examine the causal factors identified in each report by using the ‘Deadly Dozen’ Human Factors and the James Reason Latent Failures as their tools for analysis. A rich list of safety related publications, in house videos and audio podcasts are also available to download. 

The biggest achievement is the ability to submit a report on line from a personal computer, tablet or mobile phone with documents, photographs, even voice and video recordings attached to a report. 

The appetite for safety learning is no longer restricted to individual reporters, and CHIRP now has five ship managers (collectively over 1,000 ships) that volunteer their own safety lessons learned from a selection of their in-house reports. 

The management and investigation of reports has also expanded - during the period November to mid-December, CHIRP had correspondence regarding near miss  / hazardous occurrence reports with companies based in Angola, Australia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden and Turkey.

In the first week of December the International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association (ICHCA), Marine Accident Investigators' International Forum (MAIIF) and the Container Ship Safety Forum (CSSF) all contacted CHIRP stating their wish to work more closely and share information.

There are still dark holes in sectors of the industry that are less receptive to sharing their safety lessons learned from incidents and near misses. CHIRP questions the validity of a good safety culture on many container ships, bulk carriers, cruise ships, port authorities, offshore vessels, tugs, fishing craft and superyachts. There is no enthusiasm demonstrated by their ship managers and trade organizations to contribute, and this is a challenge CHIRP wants to address and rectify.

CHIRP now has almost 2,000 followers on Facebook and 800 on Twitter, where our postings provide early notification of safety related publications. Through these media, CHIRP supported the “Dangerous Ladders” campaign that focuses on ships’ non-compliance with the SOLAS requirement for pilot boarding arrangements and investigates why port authorities do not do more to ensure the pilot has a safe transfer to and from all ships?  

CHIRP also encourages comment and raises awareness in areas where it is believed the regulators and maritime authorities should do more. We believe they should enforce existing regulations and not implement variations of the same, which serve little purpose and increase bureaucracy and can impact on the rest hours of ships’ crew and increase fatigue. 

It is over 100 years since a recommendation by Lord Mersey at the inquiry into the sinking of the RMS Titanic, that passenger ship stability should be improved by greater use of longitudinal and transverse sub-division, yet despite this we are still waiting for an IMO convention or a voluntary code from the industry. 

CHIRP has criticized naval architects for their lack of innovation in the design of mooring stations and asked whether charterers and ship’s operations managers really understand the meaning of the charter party term “safe port” which includes the berth and the mooring equipment that the ships tie up to. Sadly there are too many occasions where the master of the ship puts his job at risk by either objecting to the arrangements or accepting the sub-standard mooring layout on offer.

Those focusing on design of vessels for the leisure industry are asked why we still have white yachts and white sails. Whilst they may look nice in a marina, they are not good colors for small craft if they wish to be easily spotted in a seaway. In the days when there were sails on ships’ lifeboats, they were colored red and orange for obvious reasons, which seem to have eluded yacht designers.

CHIRP may have been rather gentle in one report with their admonition that “caution should be exercised when sailing single-handed.”  We have seen professional mariners sent to prison for failure to keep a proper lookout, so CHIRP asks should single-handed sailing be encouraged or even permitted.

Four years ago the program was managed using just 70 days of work, but in 2016 this has grown to 350 days, with at least 10 percent growth expected next year. Just three part time maritime professionals and one part time administrator undertake all of this work. 

Producing the various CHIRP newsletters, podcasts and videos and maintaining an effective website with a searchable database is not cheap, so we are indebted to the sponsors* whose financial contributions permit us to provide the service. Their faith in us, and the support they provide, allows us not only to function but also to reach more seafarers than ever before.

Looking to the year ahead, CHIRP is expected to manage an even greater workload of handling reports and promoting the safety messages to new audiences. For example, Maritime FEEDBACK may soon be published in Chinese and there is a need to increase awareness of CHIRP in India and the Philippines.  

A new initiative is the production of an annual digest of maritime reports with a flash drive of all of the broadcast videos. The work is complete and is now with the publisher for planned release in early February 2017. A total of 500 copies will be sent to key stakeholders and maritime academies around the world. In addition all of the contents will be made available on our web site www.chirpmaritime.org.

It is worth repeating that none of the success in 2106 would be possible without the people who submit reports to CHIRP. It is only through them that we are able to function, and we urge all seafarers to participate. Your incident and near-miss reports may help prevent similar situations in the future, so by telling us what happened you are directly helping to save lives and improve safety.  

Stay safe out there and tell CHIRP what you see!


Britannia P&I Club
Cammell Laird
IFAN (International Foundation for the Aids to Navigation)
Lloyds Register Foundation
Sir John Fisher Foundation
The Corporation of Trinity House
TK Foundation
The Standard

Captain John Rose is Director (Maritime) for CHIRP.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.