The Future of Work, With the US Navy as Example

“Superior pilots use their superior judgement to avoid situations requiring their superior skills.”

– attributed (in various forms) to astronaut Frank Borman.




The engine failures on the LCS were related to nothing that a checklist could have prevented. They were directly attributable to poor or non existent training, ignorance, and lack of experience/knowledge and supervision that no piece of paper or online guide could have prevented.

When checklists are written by people who have no more knowledge than the virgins they are intended to guide, we get LCS type failures.

What’s that old saying? “When you try to make something fool proof you just get a better grade of fool.”


Do you have to be an expert or a generalist to look out a window for another ship?

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THAT is the #1 problem doing the same with less and being a generalist. Imagine how this is compounded within the military where the retention rate is low and due to the constant need for replacements the standards for entry are lowered in order to meet recruitment needs. Readiness must be maintained with a declining group of qualified workers, many of whom wouldn’t even be there if they could find a decent paying job elsewhere. So you have to drill and drill, fatigue takes over and being of a biological nature cannot be overcome regardless of the dedication of the individual. Then shit happens. It happens in commercial shipping and the military. That it happens in peace time with the military makes one wonder what would happen in time of war. Actually you don’t need to wonder.

The key is to know what to do when there is another ship out there.


Using the ECDIS requires a one week class. Even then if a good procedure is not place the crew will not set the ECIDS up properly. They will just get it up and running. It’s not obvious or intuitive how to set it up correctly.

Unfortunately this is where aviation and shipping part company. Flight crew get certified on type. With ECDIS I am not sure this happens when someone employed by a crewing agency changes a company . There are a lot more different brands of ECDIS than DP systems for instance.

There’s a requirement that type specific training be provided. It can be done on the ship.

What I was saying is something different. I was talking about the whole set of procedures and processes needed to use ECIDS.

For paper charts these procedures and processes have been in place, either formally or informally for many decades. However items such as fix intervals use of DRs, and so forth is now obsolete.

You can’t replace paper with ECDIS and expect the crew to just start using the correct procedures and process on their own. The crew will get the ECDIS up and running and they will start depending on it but it takes more than that.

Setting it up ad hoc runs the risk of running up on Varne Bank

The cynic in me says that the training will be onboard in the majority of cases because it is cheaper. It would be interesting to find out if the OOW when the incident occurred, had the documentation ready for a port state inspection or oil major audit. Given the frequency that tankers come under scrutiny.
On a tanker where the two junior deck officers are watch about on cargo work and the mate is watch on, stop on, it is unlikely that any of them would be called upon to demonstrate their proficiency with ECDIS to any inspector in port.
There will be a few looking for new occupations and not only on the ship. How it was able to sit on Varne Bank for so long without being noticed by traffic control will no doubt have repercussions.