Are we qualified to run our own ships?


#1

I read this interesting piece, titled KEEPING UP WITH SHIP TECHNOLOGY, on one of my favorite maritime blogs.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The technology could be outstripping the abilities of the ship’s staff” – it was asserted recently, by Lloyd’s Register surveyor Bernard Twomey, speaking at the 250-year old classification society’s Technology Days.

Commenting about “system design and integration”, he suggested that much of what was being inflicted on the industry, and indeed the hapless folk at sea who were required to make it all work, was somewhat unmanageable.

You can see where he is coming from, when a relief chief engineer drafted in to replace the ship’s regular officer who had been forced to take unscheduled leave, was unable to comprehend the highly sophisticated control system, when alarms started to go off in all directions, and the engine started to effectively manage itself. Crunch!

Having just helped deliver a new ship with a state-of-the-art Kongsberg Integrated Bridge with all the bells, whistles and flashing lights (literally)… I know that I am still working my head around a parts of the system philosophy.

So the question is, does he have a point? Are ship systems getting too complicated for the average mariner to use??


#2

So I guess the key is to be an above average mariner. These new systems are slowly phasing out those mariners that don’t have the drive to keep learning. Maybe not such a bad thing.


#3

I for one welcome our new technological overlords.

Things keep going the way they are and my degree in computer networking might just be worth something out here.


#4

Maybe, you are right, but to retain above average people they are going to need to keep the pay high and keep a high standard of living aboard the ships. Also, are you prepared to give up a chunk of each vacation to attend schools, even more so then you already do? And who is going to pay for these schools? Regulate them? And how about everyone’s favorite, the USCG?

Also, most of this new technology won’t make it to the American fleet. Our ships are on average older and in poorer condition than foreign ships, I have seen this first hand.


#5

In the 90’s, the running joke about crewing ships was a crew of 2. The skipper and a dog. The dog was there to keep the skipper from touching anything. They would chopper out a crew to bring the ship in/out of port.


#6

[QUOTE=RkyMtn Paul;29530]They would chopper out a crew to bring the ship in/out of port.[/QUOTE]

Ensco already does this… well minus the dog!

I have two thoughts on the matter. First if John, the tech guru who built most of gCaptain himself, is having trouble “wrapping his head around” certain system philosophies… what hope do the rest of us have?

Second, if you care about keeping your tech proficiencies up to modern standards then clearly joining a union is a bad idea (here’s why!).


#7

I guess it depends on what someone deems as being “qualified” as an end user because that’s what you are as a mariner. Generally, I don’t see a problem with the newer technology. It’s there to make the job easier and not harder. With IBS, it’s not like a new piece of equipment to learn, but the integration of it all, through some type of application database manager.

I do like the term “system philosophy” because you do need to know how a networked database works from a general context - you do not have to be a network administrator to operate the system safely. But, you do have to realize certain issues. For instance, if you download chart corrections for Ecdis, and this is done from your planning station, then all of the corrections have to be copied to the database, in each OS, so all stations are up-to-date. We have 12 OS stations. What if one of the OS stations lost it’s address and wasn’t talking to the network, and this was the station you decided to use for your voyage plan 3 days later? How is this dictated to the user, if this station is not up-to-date?..my relief said he updated the charts this week.

There has been times where certain issues had to be resolved via satellite by software engineers, by interfacing with certain systems. That is a nice feature to have, but that doesn’t mean the mariner has to be that capable. That’s simply not going to happen.

I do admit that after a year with this system (which is very similar to the Kongsberg - same engineers), I continue to learn new things. I think it will always be like that as situations arise. As far as the term being “qualified”…we are certainly that even while learning. You still have glass in the bridge and dividers in the chart table.


#8

I welcome the technology and certainly appreciate having it. My favorite piece of the whole system and a key component of the “system philosophy” is a good ET onboard! One of the biggest drawbacks I see is becoming complacent and relying too much on the technology. We need to keep all of our “manual” skills up to snuff.


#9

[U]press release: Monday March 22 2175 New York, New York.[/U]

After years of corporate foot dragging and a slew of lawsuits, the seas are safe at last!

The recent annoucement of SC Global Corporation to eliminate their last manned vessel has drawn attention to the fact that even as recently as 2110 manned vessels & “seamen” were seen upon the oceans, rivers, & ports of the world.

The announcement, which industry experts expected, effectively ended the global manned shipping industry after unknown thousands of years. Most outside the industry were unaware that there were even manned (non robotic) vessels in existence; private yachts and pleasure vessels, legally allowed only within 10 miles of land, will be allowed to remain manned but only with UNCG AI controllers series 2 or above.

The last manned ocean vessel on the planet was SC Global’s [I]Almagest[/I], a very large floating microwave & radiant power transmitting station located about half way between Brasil & Liberia; the lone human “seaman” was a technician with his AI team of 400 MS6 tech servants and laborers. The human, a Brasilian named Eduardo de Silva, will be removed and replaced by a new MS7 unit, named Gustavo, in the next few days; MS7 Gustavo, the size and shape of a small man, will be able to work non stop and error free for ten years, 24 hours a day; his AI processor allows full real time cognation of level 899. A small handover ceremony will be performed by Mr. de Silva and his replacement, MS7 Gustavo.

The global shipping industry, for centuries the most traditional of global enterprises, changed after the landmark IMO decision of 2063, which authorized removing all personnel, known as “seamen”, from all vessels to increase safety, preserve cargo space, stop pollution, and save money. After this legislation passed, the first fully automated vessels were the cargo vessels running products across the oceans. After the tremendous drop off in injuries & accidents the industry rushed to automate all vessels upon all waters. By the turn of the century most manned vessels were gone, being legislated out of existence, but a few held out till recently as lawsuits worked their way through the courts. By 2150 only three units had humans aboard, like the [I]Almagest, [/I]these “seamen” were in charge of overseeing their team of robots. The recent suicide of one of these “seaman”, Gilbert N. Sullivan working with his team 300 miles south of southern New Zealand, hastened the removal of the remaining two human “seafarers”.

In New York City local community leaders led a small procession of +120 super-agers to the site of the South Street Seaport Shopping Skiiny-dipping Acid Park, once a famous site where manned non-robotic sailing ships would come to load cargo centuries ago. Although deaths, vessel accidents, and pollution were common until the 2063 legislation, the protesters lamented the passing of “seamanship” and the “history of the sea”. Instead of smooth-riding at the event, the protesters were walking on street level, against city regulations, and were subsequently arrested by NYRPD, ironically also consisting entirely of the new new MS7 units.

written by richard m lawrence,
NYC reporter at large


#10

[quote=Jemplayer;29523]I for one welcome our new technological overlords.

Things keep going the way they are and my degree in computer networking might just be worth something out here.[/quote]

Your degree is actually worth quite a lot right now . .


#11

[QUOTE=cmjeff;29533]First if John, the tech guru who built most of gCaptain himself, is having trouble “wrapping his head around” certain system philosophies… what hope do the rest of us have?[/QUOTE]

Yes because html and php are directly applicable to marine navigation :rolleyes:

On the bright side, I might fair ok in this future world of high technology. I mean, what are the chances my ship gets hacked by Russians :o


#12

[QUOTE=john;29600] what are the chances my ship gets hacked by Russians :o[/QUOTE]

You’ll be ok. If your ship’s internet connection is as slow as mine then the Hackers will probably give up from frustration.


#13

Yea, but I don’t want to touch anything IT related with a 10 foot pole right now, one of the leading reasons I work on boats and not in an office.

I work small boats in the Gulf and the technology is NO were near what is going on with ships or even work boats, but as I upgrade my license and IBS become more prevalent I do see were it will help give me a leg up.

I love technology and love playing with it, but I also have a very simple requirement. Does it do what I need it to do easily and reliably? As long as the system designers keep that in mind then I’ll be happy.

And yes I am one that believes in knowing what to do when the computer fails. Chartploter and GPS just took a dump because the engineer forgot to tell you he was switching gens, better break out the dividers. DP offline because the laser system is broke and the rig is shadowing the GPS signal, time to grab the throttles and get busy.

But I also think vinyl is cool and hope that a nice record player comes my way this year, so you could say I like to keep things old school if for no other reason then knowing how things used to be.