Murphy's Law and the Marine Engineer

I was talking with Capt_A this morning about the flip side of Murphy’s Law (If good things can happen they usually happen at the same time… problem is you usually can pick only one) and I looked up the “law” itself on wikipedia. Here’s a clip from the article:

Recent research in this area has been carried on to a significant extent by members of the American Dialect Society. ADS member Stephen Goranson has found an early version of the law, not yet generalized or bearing that name, in a report by Alfred Holt at an 1877 meeting of an engineering society:

It is found that anything that can go wrong at sea generally does go wrong sooner or later, so it is not to be wondered that owners prefer the safe to the scientific… Sufficient stress can hardly be laid on the advantages of simplicity. The human factor cannot be safely neglected in planning machinery. If attention is to be obtained, the engine must be such that the engineer will be disposed to attend to it.

Seems like the law was written for us mariners, in part, to explain management issues. Your thoughts?

Thanks, i found the Wiki link on that quite interesting. But the best part i liked:

These perversions of Murphy’s Law can be summed up in Silverman’s Paradox: “If Murphy’s Law can go wrong, it will.”
:slight_smile:

Reminded me of a quote by Peter Drucker:

[B]

“No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings.”
[/B]

Achieving a Management Sysem that does that effectively is the big task. The ideal for shipping management is a layman should be able to enter the bridge and safely navigate the vessel or to be more PC…a non-Engineer should be able to come into the ER and able to operate and run the Engines. The present ultimate ideal thats not going to be achievable in the near future is boot out all kinds of Mariners. Masters or Chiefs.

So the next best workable ideal is Druckers, that we organize things on board in such a way, that even if an Incompetent Master or Chief Engineer finds his way and slips through, the system makes it sure that the Silvermans paradox holds sway over Murphy for the period they are incarge. When people override the system with misuse of command authority or other means, all the plans go for a six. Murphy’s laws will override Silvermans.

Please, tell us you’re kidding.

Please.

[quote=Allwyn;15223]Reminded me of a quote by Peter Drucker:

Achieving a Management Sysem that does that effectively is the big task. The ideal for shipping management is a layman should be able to enter the bridge and safely navigate the vessel or to be more PC…a non-Engineer should be able to come into the ER and able to operate and run the Engines. The present ultimate ideal thats not going to be achievable in the near future is boot out all kinds of Mariners. Masters or Chiefs.

So the next best workable ideal is Druckers, that we organize things on board in such a way, that even if an Incompetent Master or Chief Engineer finds his way and slips through, the system makes it sure that the Silvermans paradox holds sway over Murphy for the period they are incarge. When people override the system with misuse of command authority or other means, all the plans go for a six. Murphy’s laws will override Silvermans.[/quote]

Now it starts to clear up! And I don’t think he’s kidding.

I liked the way my chief put it. English is not his first language and he picks his words carefully. We were discussing sulfur in fuel oil and we had become bogged down discussing high wear and tear vs damage and the chief said, " Look, everyone is going to die and every engine is going to break down, but to prolong, that is the fight."

We don’t want intelligent, educated and experienced (above average) people on the bridge, on deck and in the engine room?

That verifies Allwyn’s status as either an idiot or a troll… probably both.

Hey, let’s make helicopter cockpits and engines so simple that the crews fly THEMSELVES back and forth and maintain the systems on the thing! We could eliminate pilots and mechanics. There’s a money saver.

I can see it now:

“It’s my turn to drive the whirleygig.”

“OK, but I get to check the torque and safetywire on the Jesus nut first.”

“OK, but I get to check the oil level…where do I do that?”

“Yeah, and whuts a Jesus nut?”

Allwyn, where are you located? I want to stay away from there.

Nemo

[I]Please, tell us you’re kidding.

[/I]Please try and understand what i am coming to and imply by that statement: Making complex processes handled by experts so simple they can be handled by people with lesser skills and intelligence. That is exactly why i quoted Peter Drucker: “No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to run…”

Applied to ships it means if an Engineer new to a UEC Engine comes he faces no difficulty in say overhauling the Fuel Pump or Fuel valve, because the processes/ precautions are laid down so clearly and concisely that with a bit of a stretch it is convenient to say even a layman could do that operation.

Management is about organizing, or laying down processes and procedures that make operations standardized to the extent that yes indeed, things are elucidated in the simplest possible terms.

It happens all the time and there is tremendous evidence of this in all spectrums of industry. Flight simulator games literally bring complex aircraft operations simply into teenagers who simulate flights from F-16s to Boeing jets. Voices prompt in case a check list procedure is not followed or a particular operation is overlooked. Kids virtually fly complex aircraft. Which does not imply kids will be allowed to fly jets coz they know the controls and do it virtually. It means a sysem made so easy, that we can imply a layman can operate it.

Look around at so many sites around the net. There are demonstrations to do what was carried out by experts in a step by step manner. What was done by experts yesteryears is done by first timers today. 10 years ago there were exclusive website designers. Today a first timer can do it simply on the web step by step.

On ships these days hundreds of files are maintained. Don’t maintain proper indexing and you’ll require experts to even manage files. Maintain proper indexing procedures and you can have a ‘layman’ come, look up a sheet or two and identify what document is where.

30 years ago, if you needed information, you’d have to walk into a library, ask the help of a librarian employed and then look up the book. Today, at the click of a button and a single entry page any layman anywhere in he world can get whatever information he desires.

The idea is always to keep making things/ operations, simpler, easier to operate.

[I]Now it starts to clear up! And I don’t think he’s kidding.

[/I]You said this wrt the bolded part:

The present ultimate ideal thats not going to be achievable in the near future is boot out all kinds of Mariners. Masters or Chiefs.

Do you realize how long this has been happening? That crews HAVE been reduced from the hundreds to a dozen or so?

How has that been achieved? Sadly, but yes, booting out the Mariners.

With beter reliability, simpler communications, better procedures, indeed Mariners have been offloaded. There is no Radio Officer now. That rank got obsolete.

Why do you think there were experiments on unmanned ships? IF it was successful and proved cheaper and safer, do you think Ship owners would be sentimental and say “ahh no problem, i’ll blow a few million every month but for hisorical, traditional reasons i cannot boot out Mariners.”

The industry will always push to save money. Thats why outsourcing works, thats how the free markets work.

We don’t want intelligent, educated and experienced (above average) people on the bridge, on deck and in the engine room?

That verifies Allwyn’s status as either an idiot or a troll… probably both.
Ever read/ heard of books with such titles:

Physics for dummies
Strength of Materials for dummies
C++ for dummies
OOPs for dummies?

But then no you would’nt have, because you’d have assumed they are really meant for dummies to read…

Ever heard the term ‘foolproof’?

But i don’t think you approve using ‘fool proof’ technology on the bridge. Because it is intended only for fools…?

From Lloyd’s List:
[B][B]Tanker crew training cuts pose threat [/B][/B]

MODERN tankers are too sophisticated for vessel crews and officers and manuals need to be much more understandable, says BP Shipping’s head of health and safety.

[I]MODERN tankers are too sophisticated for vessel crews and officers and manuals need to be much more understandable, says BP Shipping’s head of health and safety.

[/I]Thank you Captain for proving my point.
Excerpts:

[B]“[/B]We are looking for [B]ships that are more people-friendly[/B] and are optimised for seafarers and not for the shipbuilders[B]. And we need better manuals that are readable and understandable,” he said. [/B]

I remember when I first started going to sea in the 70’s, the average compliment was in the low 40s. And that was for labor intensive break bulk vessels. These days, that size seems almost unimaginabley high. In the ten years I spent as a Class surveyor, I saw the average crew compliment cut in half.

The manning level on ships has been reduced drastically during the late 70s to early 80s as UMS and more [FONT=Times New Roman]sophisticated equipment were installed on vessels. My experience was, ships could still be kept in good shape but from time to time we needed extra supports from shore. Since the introduction of SMS, there are tons of paperwork and manuals. In early 80s, I only had Op and Maintenance manuals onboard although it operated at coastal waters and had very good shore support. I was complaining than we should have more instruction manuals for the crew to deal with various situations. Today, I have about 15 manuals, just for management, normal and emergency situations and rows of equipment manuals; not to mention hundreds of PM work orders with step to step instructions. I could see the benefits of it as any qualified crew members could, within reasonable time, take over the job with minimum chance of making mistakes. I spend 1/3 of my time just for paperwork and emailing or surfing the internet :p<V:p</V:p for company business :confused:.[/FONT]

Murphy’s Law does apply to serious incidents, not only marine ones. It probably will not be a serious one unless a series of bad things occurred to make the situation out of control. Most investigations would point to human errors, very rarely to design faults. In some cases, I think, the design fault was the underlying factor. On the other hand, management wants to be more “efficient” (=making more profit), manpower has been cut down to minimum, or even below minimum which requires a major major incident to prove. For example, on one of the other thread and NY Ferry incident, that only one person in the wheelhouse or the elimination of the radio officer had certain negative impact in an emergency situation where one crew member may need to be multitasking.

ps I quite agree with some ideas raised by Allwyn (I have not read them all yet).

Thank you Captain for proving my point.

Your point is, I think ,that:

The ideal for shipping management is a layman should be able to enter the bridge and safely navigate the vessel
But:

MODERN tankers are too sophisticated for vessel crews and officers
Your point is that ships should be simple enough for laymen to be able to operate but the trend is that they are becoming too complex for trained mariners to operate. I think that a ship should be simple enough to operate that a trained mariner is able to do it. I don’t think you will find layman operating ships at sea in our lifetime.

I think your other point is that navigation is now simple enough that it would be cheaper and easier to train engineers to take over that job as well as command of the ship. For example you seem to believe that any navigational tasks which are difficult are done either by a gps, a pilots or by port control. This is not true.

I think that this is the crux of the situation. Some engineers have only a superficial understanding of what is involved in commanding a ship and believe that given a chance they could do better then the the people presently doing the job. This is the classic armchair quarterback situation. I think the situation exist the other way as well but to a lesser degree. I am aware, as are most on the deck side, for example, that I don’t understand and can not operate the equipment in the engine room.

If you take a look at the aviation side, the flight that recently lost power and safely landed in the Hudson river, we can all easily visualize ourselves landing that aircraft safely in the river (how hard could it be? just manipulate the controls properly) but we all know we could not, say, overhaul a aircraft engine without training.

Just check your comparison:

Navigating Vs Operations on a tanker::

Your point is, I think ,that:
Quote:
<table width=“100%” border=“0” cellpadding=“6” cellspacing=“0”> <tbody><tr> <td style=“border: 1px inset ;” class=“alt2”> The ideal for shipping management is a layman [B]should be able to enter the bridge and safely navigate the vessel[/B] </td> </tr> </tbody></table>
But:
Quote:
<table width=“100%” border=“0” cellpadding=“6” cellspacing=“0”> <tbody><tr> <td style=“border: 1px inset ;” class=“alt2”> [B]MODERN tankers[/B] are too sophisticated for vessel crews and officers </td> </tr> </tbody></table>
My words: Your conclusion is different.

There is a BIG difference. Think, and yes read and see who the HR guy specifically mentions and ten generalizes…and why i stress to concentrate on core competencies. And not subjective ‘overall responsibility’ stuff. In simple words, here’s a BIG difference between navigating a tanker and operating one for starters.