The three stages of the new deck officer

This quote is relevant wrt getting a new third mate up to speed.

“When we learn to do anything new—how to drive, for example—we go through three stages. The first stage demands a lot of attention as we try out the controls, learn the rules of driving, and so on. In the second stage we begin to coordinate our knowledge, linking movements together and more fluidly combining our actions with our knowledge of the car, the situation, and the rules. In the third stage we drive the car with barely a thought. It’s automatic. And with that our improvement at driving slows dramatically, eventually stopping completely.”

— Geoff Colvin
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A green deck officer that is at the first stage will suffer from cognitive overload and stress in situations that seem simple to a more experienced mariner.

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I have seen people be absolute d!ckheads to new 3/Ms to the point where it makes you question what the f*ck is wrong with these people? Don’t you remember what it was like to be new?

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I’ve found a lot of people who are like this had some dickhead yelling at them when they were new and now that they’re competent they believe that experience is what got them there. Cycle continues.

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The fourth stage is to delineate and categorize stages.

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While self-satisfaction and excessive self-assurance of an inexperienced employee can be and usually are problematic in any field of our activity, the presented “learn stages” have nothing to do with the work of a watchkeeping officer.

I cannot imagine anyone on the bridge performing their duties automatically and/or thoughtlessly. While such routine thoughtlessness may be imaginable in some solitary workplaces, handling/navigating a ship is not such an activity. It is usually a team effort even when only the “green deck officer” remains on the bridge.

I think you can replace the third stage with - confidence and comfortable with the responsibility as opposed to “thoughtless”

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in my experiance - this was mostly from “career 2 mates”

Weird, all the career 2nds I’ve worked with have been the most helpful. Worst guys were either career CM’s or long time CM’s that finally got promoted to Capt after like 8 years as CM.

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I taught both of my sons how to drive. On a stick shift, in the HS parking lot initially, using the loading dock in the back for “hill practice”. Both of them were initially SHOCKED at how challenging it could be to coordinate all the basic bits and pieces. After all, they had sat next to their MOTHER driving a stick shift, and she had no problems at all. Of course, she was at stage three.

When they realized how stage one could be hard to master, they finally understood why the radio had to be off.

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Agreed, it all about the experience…

Try again, it gets easier with practice.

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Using a stick shift is a good example, of procedural memory (aka muscle memory). An analogous task in the wheelhouse would be simple tasks such as changing scales or switching from true to relieve vectors and so forth.

Higher order tasks such as following the rules can be made easier by developing heuristics or rules of thumb which reduces cognitive work load.

With more experience an officer’s intuition would improve increasing the ability to maintain situational awareness recognizing traffic patterns, changes in the weather and so forth with less mental effort.

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