Fundamental Principles of Bridge Resource Management

It’s just standard procedure to avoid error when using documents. The paper copy of the voyage plan is the official version and is signed by the 2nd mate and master. With a paper copy far less chance of making an version control error. Each change can be more easily tracked

For example on a trans-Pacific voyage if modifications to the route are made for weather routing a single “save / save as” error by the second mate and there’s a potential for file name confusion and wasted time.

I’ve been called to the bridge while underway for discrepancies between the route in the ECDIS and the route in the GPS. Don’t want to be fiddle farting around trying to determine which is the correct version. I make sure the printed version of the waypoints is correct in advance and then when there is a mismatch anywhere I go right to the printed version in the voyage plan.

I also have the second mate email me the voyage waypoints so in the event of some issue I have an electronic copy I know nobody has edited.

Our routes are checked and approved by the office.
We feel so much safer for that.

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What I’d want to see is the report the ECDIS generates after the “route check” function is run.

I would also add that with a PPU, you can select the exact kind of information you want presented. As a pilot, you don’t need to see ATON characteristics, geographic names and, for the most part, soundings - all of that is committed to memory. I like a clean, relatively simple and clutter-free display.

Can an ECDIS be setup in the same manner? Sure, given enough time and mouse clicks. But that may be to the detriment of information that, while I consider it to be superfluous, the crew deems critical to their own monitoring. My general impression of most ship’s ECDIS equipment is that it’s designed and setup well for ocean/coastal passages but poor during pilotage (for use by a pilot), especially with the constant extraneous alarms sounding.


Totally agree with your points. We had a major issue, within Pilotage waters, with AIS CPA alerts caused by tugs coming alongside. Invariably, the duty officer was unable to either cancel, mute or modify the alarm status and the cacophony was ongoing whilst his attention was directed towards constant alarm acknowledgment. We decided to incorporate a written request within our MPX document to have the alarms silenced whilst the vessel was transiting Pilotage waters. It was more often than not, wishful thinking.


Back to this thought of airline stuff can’t work on ships. Thanks to this post, I became aware of a white paper of how Carnival now does their bridge operations. It puts down on paper exactly a system I envisioned. I highly recommend the 10 minute read. Roles and duties are defined and used on every single bridge in the fleet.

What I really like is how the most senior guy isn’t “driving”. This allows him to see the big picture from a few steps back and spot mistakes using his wisdom and knowledge. I’ve always noticed in operational situation, I will notice much more abnormal parameters if I’m standing behind and observing the overall situation instead of being up front and directing. From heavy lifts, to commissioning, to maneuvering operations…let the young officers handle the nitty gritty and let the old salts be there for guidance for abnormal situations.

Here is one great point:

In order to consolidate this change ten Captains have been taken out of rotations and trained to become instructors and employed as Fleet Captains going around the fleet to first help Captains with the implementation and now making sure that operations are carried out as intended.

Furthermore, an annual Proficiency, Training and Assessment (PTA) programme has been introduced for all officers who have completed the all required training. The PTA includes two days of evidence based training and two and a half days of proficiency assessment, where a minimum standard must be achieved, if not, further training will be required.

I worked for a major cruise line for a couple of contracts . Coming into and departing port I was on the bridge. I do not know what they called their bridge management system but it closely matched what the Carnival system is talking about. Coming from a more commercial background it was nice to watch. The master was there but seemed to be like the CEO as the pilot and navigational officers were a well oiled team. It was very impressive.

I have had the honour of attending simulator courses and other gatherings with Hans and he is a very cluey and rational professional. He is often referred to as the father of BRM and had very close ties to the late Benny Pettersson who drove the concept of AIS whilst in it’s conceptual infancy.

I have also Piloted many large passenger vessels and have experienced the excellent and functional BRM practices exhibited by the bridge teams. Teams composed of the Master, Staff Captain, three navigating officers, a cadet, helmsman and two security personnel which is all stitched up with a myriad of wheelhouse cameras. Their responsibilities under the umbrella of a comprehensive SMS are to safety manage $1.4 billon of capital infrastructure plus the lives of up to 5,500 souls so their practices and management systems have to be seamless and beyond reproach. In addition to this their leave rotations generally are kept to around 3 months.

My next pilotage after the “Oasis of the Seas” is a $50 mill panamax with 20 souls on board and the crew are generally subjected to 10~12 month leave rotations. They are tired and fed up with life at sea. The bridge team comprises the Master, one navigating officer and the helmsman. Their primary BRM amounts to the Pilot getting the ship alongside so that they can facetime their families.

If you believe that the BRM practices displayed by large passenger vessels can or will bleed down to the general commercial global maritime fleet then you are having yourself on. BRM will occur in this arena when the powers that be introduce autonomous shipping with the human factors being transferred ashore.

Attached is an excellent read written by Antonio Di Lieto. If you are truly interested in BRM then it is certainly worth your time.


Sure, It’s certainly not going to happen overnight. But BRM is, fundamentally, about managing resources available effectively and efficiently. It aligns with good seamanship.

Any individual captain can apply the principles of BRM without waiting for word to come down from on high. I sailed with captains, chief mates and Chief Engineers that applied these principles long before we had even heard the term.


This. I operate a bridge with tons of resources and only a few people to do so. It means that those people will be assigned more tasks, but it is certainly doable.

To me, good BRM is simply talking about what you are doing. Letting the bridge team know what the plan is and how we are going to achieve that goal as well as encouraging the conversation to happen so others can call out things they see or questions they have.


Basically what’s being said that is that people higher up in the hierarchy always know better than the people lower.

That means that individual Chief mates, Captains and so forth can’t implement BRM practices until someone higher up in hierarchy gives them specific instructions and procedures on how to do it.

At least we have babysteps…which is you giving in to the idea that the system can be improved and that cruise ships already have made the improvements. Now that we’ve admitted there is a problem, we can work on implementing the solution on cargo ships.

The truth is that most officers out in the fleet are average, and perform average. They are not innovators and just continue to do things “they way I was taught it”. Usually, those higher up in the food chain are also average, but somehow get the power of the pen (even though they may get paid less than the sailors at sea).

And then occasionally, you’ll get somebody in the office that is above average, has experience, and sees the big picture to make good changes. The also get to see multiple ships across their fleet and are in a position to implement change overall. But the only real way to get those on the ships to sign in is to bring them into training sessions on land and rotate them around the fleet to cross pollinate the better methods.

These good people usually have an extremely diverse career history and a questioning attitude. In my experience, the “expert” that has done the same thing for 20 years is likely to be the most useless in creating improvements. Honestly, bringing a few complete outsiders from completely different industries will probably be more useful than bringing together 20 sr officers with 400+ years of combined experience.

Is there an ideal number of people for an effective Bridge Team, bearing in mind the different aspects of deep sea, coastal, pilotage and harbour navigation?
Reading posts here it seems fairly obvious that some of the ships have a larger Bridge Team complement than other ships actually have on board in total.
How effective would the larger Bridge teams be if they had to do multiple ports a day?
By multiple, I mean more than 2.
How do the teams operate with day and night Masters?

There seems to be some discussion on what pilots do in regards to letting the crew no what to expect.
Would the maritime versions of SIDs/STARs help? I used to hate the things, but now it is a couple of button pushes and maybe a knob twist to load the “XYZ arrival” and I can follow the whole thing easily.

  • SIDs/STARs are precharted departure and arrival procedures that save ATC a lot of time explaining all the twists and turns. They were somewhat of a PITA for single pilot ops back in the day, but now you type the name in and the amazing database genie has it all there for you :wink:

So, totally reliable and un-hackable then?

As unhackable as any other data in the plane or boat. It is not sent real-time, there is a database of arrivals and departures that is part of the same database that tells you where all the airports are. If they give you XYZ arrival, that is a published procedure and is already loaded at your end. It isn’t any more or less likely to be hacked then selecting KLAX as a destination.

  • in the old days these were all in an actual book you carried with you

So, completely un-hackable database then?
Well done.

P 291. “From the Costa Concordia to Navigation in the Digital Age”. Antonio Di Lieto.

“we need more sophisticated competencies on board ships”. Agree. Would make seafarers more valuable too

Anyone know if our Navy uses BRM? I understand they have a lot of bodies on their bridges, but is there teamwork going on? We learned in the 2017 collisions that they needed work. Curious where they are now