Status of Navigation / BRM training Today

I so wish the USCG would require a radar course that teaches practical skill for navigation and collision avoidance.

Hell yea, TWIC can be next. Sending them a passport photo and a check should do for renewal instead of making us drive to a building with a birth cert.

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I think he was getting as trying to adapt old courses and methods like reflection plotting to modern equipment (e.g. the comments about using dry erase markers on computer monitors).

It’s got little to do with BRM as taught, and everything to do with individual knowledge and skill. Of course, BRM is greatly enhanced if every watch officer is skilled in the practical use of radar.

Having assessed over 2000 mariners in simulation, it’s apparent to me that only a small minority are skilled in radar use. This is a major issue and we spend a lot of time in debrief sessions discussing it, and companies recognize the issue and provide follow-on training. They shouldn’t have to.

We have developed training in state-of-the-art use of radar for both collision avoidance and navigation. We begin with how to tune a radar, since 90% of radar users have no clue how to do so, and take it from there. We also developed a course that combines the use of radar and ECS/ECDIS to aid in real-time decision making and proper prioritization of instruments.

My point is that I believe that the USCG should require a course such as described above in place of the original radar observer course. It’s outdated and mostly useless. Why spend time learning about waveguides, when there aren’t any waveguides anymore? Why draw an RTM triangle if you know how to properly use true trails, an EBL and VRM to quickly prioritize traffic and determine CPA, and how to then determine which targets to acquire on ARPA? Or completely in place of ARPA in a busy port or seaway where no one is keeping a steady state. These are the skills a new mariner should become adept in using, because they’re relevant to the work watchstanders must do every day.


I was referring to the original Radar Observer course that will still be required. That way the daily users of such equipment might actually complete such a course with some practical skills. It’s my first hand experience offshore and during simulation assessments that people do not know how to employ best practices when using radar OR ECS/ECDIS.

It’s not a lining the schools’ pockets issue. The original course is still required.

The focus should be the transition to ECDIS in general.

From what I’ve seen the most effective way to reduce the risk of a navigational incident would be to take steps so see that procedures, checklist and so forth are in place to insure the ECDIS is set-up properly.

That the depth contours and cross-track are set up correctly and the route safety check is done so that there is no alarm fatigue.

Related thread here: Change Management in Navigation