How are you using AIS?


Somebody has to clean the bilges and that is what Cadets were invented for.
CRT tubes (generally) had much better target definition than the digital stuff.
‘My’ new. solid state (no valves, no magnetron) 10cm radar is rubbish with small vessels; it is constantly target swapping with buoys, other boats (you end with 2 plots on the same target) and pretty much anything else except the target you want to plot.
You can no longer adjust the pulse length or detune slightly to clear the picture as it is all automatic.
I complained to the installation engineer that the picture was ‘blobby’ and he stated that a lot of people like it blobby.
It is also rubbish at ranges and bearings off land as the definition is so poor.


It is mostly because of poorly written operating instructions. The Japanese were bad enough at writing manuals in English but the Chinese have really killed the clarity.


One of the root cause issues here is the rate of change of technology. Back in the day a third mate could graduate from the academy, work their way up to captain and just keep doing things the same way till they retire. This is where the (not) amusing anecdotes of old time captains not being able to adapt to new technology come from.

It’s the same today, however the pace of change has increased. The old approach of waiting for the old timers to retire no longer works.

For example captain tells me he doesn’t trust ECDIS, well your mates do and someone had better figure it out. And it’s not going to be the old time captains.


This is in all industries. And it’s also exasperated by the boomers also working longer and not retiring and making space for the younger generations to replace them. Combine that with fewer overall jobs, and PC/ politics/HR, not competency, making staffing decisions, and their seems to be a group of folks left in the stone-age.

But also, the technology companies are now just doing evolutionary updates with very little REVOLUTIONARY. Additionally, because the real economy is F*'d, these companies must push new tech each year for upgrades so their CEO’s can make money.

Look at smart phones, they keep coming out with new ones each year that cost more and more…but an older model works fine. Example: Iphone 4s from 2011 does all the apps and stuff fine. I’m typing this reply on a desktop computer from 2008 running windoze 7. IT works fine. The push to upgrade each year is a huge cultural shift of planned obsolescence. My family had the same TV from 1980 to 2002.


That’s just part of the issue. My point was that ship’s crews do not know,and should not be expected to know how to properly use technology on their own.

Take for example the captain of the El Faro depending on the weather data from Bon Voyage instead of Safety Net / Sat-C. It’s not a case of not knowing how to use it in the sense that the captain can click through etc, the problem is he lacks in depth knowledge of what he’s looking at. He lacked understanding of Bon Voyage’s limitations.

Ship’s crew need guidance on how to use new technology. AIS for example is either being trusted fully by brand new third mates and not at all by old-timers.


Does anybody know a grad student or similar who is looking to find a subject for a thesis?
How about; 'How has technology affected shipping casualties?‘
I remember (lantern swinging time again) joining a ship that was 1599 GRT; if it was 1600 GRT or over then you had to carry a Radio Officer, 1599 GRT then no Sparky but you did have to have a Telex!
Some Sparkies were good and would have a pile of cards to put your birthday telegram from your Mum into.
Some Sparkies were so far up the Old Man’s arse they could only operate the Morse key with their big toe.
Anyway, digressed again.
Wrecks first started because nobody knew diddly squat.
People that survived wrecks said that you need to do this, that or the other to stop being wrecked yourself.
I’m guessing that is about where formalised Lookouts came in to the equation.
And then the Empire building started so communication was paramount hence the invention of the letter and the Mail Ships to carry the letters to the far flung corners of said Empire.
Obviously you can pre-date this with Genghis Khan and the Romans (what have they ever done for us) but I’m talking about a more formal, structured scenario rather than a smack you all on the head type of rulership and technology.
Bollocks, where was I?
Yeah, mail ships. And then that twat Marconi came along and invented the telegraph and that is exactly where it all started going wrong.
Because then The Office could get in touch with you; on a daily basis.
And that is where the Master became just a Captain.
So, that technology removed the (what must have totally fabulous) sense of complete involvement in your own vessel and some of the weight of the responsibility that came with it.
So, you get telegrams from your Mum (I use capitals for Mum because I think that is a rank) and then they invent radar.
And then they discover the RAC; the Radar Assisted Collision.
And it pretty much hasn’t improved much since then.
Every techno-advancement for ships is designed by somebody who doesn’t actually work on ships; I’m curious to know if that happens in the aviation sector.
Or the food industry.
We recently had a new bridge gear fit; everything was exactly the same afterwards (once the tuning had been done), all new engine and thruster controls, all worked the same.
Except that they had replaced the wheel with a tiller.
Tossers in the electrical department; no sense, no soul.
Technology for technologys sake; none of it improves the contact and awareness of your ship.
You need your eyes looking out of the window and you feet on the deck (I’m excluding DP here obviously) and just keep your shit together.
Technology is fantastic but at the end of the day it is just another tool.
When it all fails you are still free to run around in circles screaming like a ’ broke dick dog’.
Predator, if you are not familiar with the quote.


Your post made me laugh. You could do well to write children’s books. I am not demeaning you in any way, pls. You surely can make kids laugh.

I disagree with your line of thought, though. Technology has made it possible for a seafarer to ease into a ship without much stress. GPS now tells us precisely where we are. Until the 70s one had to find the ship’s position by astro sights. Sometimes one couldn’t get a sight for days because of overcast sky, and could drift substantially away from one’s track. Making landfall was a stressful event. The Portuguese discovered Brazil by accident when one of the ships was blown off course in a gale.

Technology has connected the merchant marine into the mainstream of international trade.

I like your designation of Mum as a rank.


Thanks for the reply, most appreciated!
I will have to slightly disagree with you though; it’s been a long while since I have ‘eased’ into a port/. I got a bit moist when I read that…


No one told me this the first time I went to sea. Instead they handed me a pair of binoculars and sent me to the flying bridge as lookout, I’d of liked a window to look out Winter North Atlantic.