Bridge alarm systems

The article about bridge alarms and the distraction they cause during pilotage is on the money. The answer is to have a similar setup to that found in the engine control room. One large button, which could be the same as the watch keeping alarm button, at strategic places around the bridge, silences the alarm. A display on the bridge displays, in order of priority, which equipment has alarmed.


I agree about the need for a better way to manage bridge alarms but I wonder how many of those alarms are ECDIS and of the ECDIS alarms how many are the failure to use “check route” function?

The thing that gets me is having one thing stop working, like gyro input, and all of a sudden the radars, the autopilot, the chart plotter and whatever else all start fining at once.

Also, to many alarms sound to similar; it becomes a Chinese fire drill rushing around trying to figure out what the problem is.

Not a good problem when crossing a narrow bar or doing some other critical manouver.

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yes agreed, huge hole on regulations
lost count how many times on the bridge of dp vessel, covered in PC’s we hear a new sound and all crew are now pulling cabinet doors trying to find what it is
During one of these the fire system went off but it was mounted on the back of the bridge and were not on DP, only 3 of us when we finally found out what the noise was we then realised the fire alarm was ringing ( not very loud) before I got there it went to a general.
That flagged a report to the office, my report said it will happen again due to crap bridge design, they didnt like that.
Just having a light with a sound, means you can at least find them

How would you like to be on an aircraft and the pilots cant find out what is making the noise?

Been there and got the T shirt. Had an alarm mid ocean on a container ship. Mate on watch plus two electricians and Chief Engineer removing panels to track source and finally found it was caused by a faulty wrong way alarm in the telegraph system. No indication just a high pitched noise that was hard to track direction of. It took at least 30 minutes to find and I’m bloody glad it didn’t occur at a more critical time.


I went looking for a study we did when I was at Honeywell many moons ago. Didn’t find it (I think it was one of those NASA reports that was pulled to prevent tech transfer to China – good luck with that) but did stumble across two interesting papers from the aviation domain:

Alarm Related Accident Statistics

Example of Complexity of the Problem

I’m not convinced by the approach described in the second paper, but it does illustrate beautifully how the complexity effing explodes when you take a remotely reasonable cut at modeling the problem.




It’s amazing how your ear gets tuned to the tiny differences in alarms such that you can eventually tell exactly what alarm is going off almost instantly.

add several together then a new one and its a cluster

I agree with powerabout. Then there is the alarm you have never heard before like the alarm in the telegraph that I experienced in my previous post.
On one tanker they had installed an oil interface alarm. Unfortunately the alarm was intended for an area with high ambient noise where those in the vicinity would likely be wearing ear protection. It was situated on the bulkhead by the chart table.
One day the alarm went off. I was unable to hear anything for a while and it took considerable effort to remove the dividers that were buried in the chart table.

I’m not arguing against any of the rest of the comments on this post, I was just musing about alarms in general.

perhaps anything that can create an alarm ( less the radar and ecdis) must go to a panel that lists what it is and acknowledge button

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