Time To Rethink SOLAS? Why a behavioral economist may have the answer

What does [behavioral economics/U… [url=http://gcaptain.com/maritime/blog/time-rethink-solas-behavioral/]Click HERE to read the full blog article.

Lots of info in this post. Just from the point of view of this problem aboard ship - The problem with improperly secured hooks, the error occurs when the boat is hooked up while it is in the water. But the problem is not discovered until the boat is much higher, when it hits the davits and the improperly secured hooks fail. What I have been doing is, [B]once the boat is hooked up, lift it clear of the water, say a meter or two and stop. [/B]The crew can then check that it is properly hooked up. It is difficult and unsafe to have someone check while the boat is still bouncing around in the water with the falls going slack each time a wave passes resulting in the gear smashing into the top of the boat.

I’ve noticed all the videos put out by these lifeboat companies shows the boats being tested in sheltered waters.

Very interesting and I’m actually going to do it. Seriously. I’m going to plan a hike and think about these ideas.

Let’s hope the light bulb goes on!

Ok, I’m still waiting on the lightbulb but I did talk with a physcologist friend who thinks John is on the right track and pointed me to cognitive bias:

A cognitive bias is a pattern of deviation in judgment that occurs in particular situations (see also cognitive distortion and the lists of thinking-related topics). Implicit in the concept of a “pattern of deviation” is a standard of comparison; this may be the judgment of people outside those particular situations, or may be a set of independently verifiable facts. The existence of some of these cognitive biases has been verified empirically in the field of psychology, others are widespread beliefs, and may themselves be a consequence of cognitive bias.

Cognitive biases are instances of evolved mental behavior. Some are presumably adaptive, for example, because they lead to more effective actions or enable faster decisions. Others presumably result from a lack of appropriate mental mechanisms, or from the misapplication of a mechanism that is adaptive under different circumstances

Wikipedia has the full list of biases.

Lifeboat davit issues are not the only area where SOLAS needs overhauling. Of far more serious concern is the paucity of lifeboats on cruise ships, which means that most cruise ships have a shortfall of 25% of lifecraft places when a ship lists suddenly and thus prevents launching of any lifeboats on one side of the ship. The situation is compounded because, in the interests of saving money, many cruise ships use inflatable lifecraft, most of which cannot be davit launched. Many cruise ship passengers are elderly and infirm and yet would be expected to plunge 50ft into what could be a freezing, tempestuous sea and somehow struggle into an inflatable.

An illustration of the consequences of such contemptuous neglect of safety at sea was the tragic sinking of the Al Salam Boccacio 98 in the Red Sea several years ago shortly after quickly listing. Of the 1,400 on board there were complaints among the 400 survivors of insufficent lifeboats. It remains to be seen if the sinking of the Princess of the Stars in the Philippines last year, with the loss of 800 lives, will draw parallels. For a fuller story on the scandal of SOLAS shortcomings read my comment in Shippingtimes.co.uk (November 2007 news) under the heading: “A Titanic in the making?”

Dear readers

Being the inventor of the drop-in-ball system, presented to IMO on 28 May 2009 I welcome ideas that will give our fellow seafarers a fair chance when testing their “lifesaving” appliances.
I fully agree to the article, well written and indeed correct, we need to re-think the wole concept of saving lives at sea.
it is a well known fact, that evebody accept the fact that people involved in an airplane crach die! And everybody involved in a ship accident survive, which unfortunately has shown not to be correct at all.
Well, it ought to be correct when testing the ship’s equipment, that is at least what i think, and therefore sat down and gave it some thoughts, which led to the drop-in-ball solution, a solution simple and maintenance free, why can we not get more of these ideas?

[QUOTE=domer;15771]Very interesting and I’m actually going to do it. Seriously. I’m going to plan a hike and think about these ideas.[/QUOTE]

I hate when my own words come back to haunt me. Now I have to come up with something good. Thanks to BNI for reminding me.

With the up-front disclaimer that my opinions here are not necessarily those of the U.S. Coast Guard or the Department of Homeland Security I’ll add this:

While I understand the reasons to operate the lifeboats in the water, and I certainly understand the reasons to load test and maintain the davits and release mechanisms - I can think of no reason to put persons at risk during these tests by lowering the boats with personnel aboard in anything but actual emergencies. There seems to be no real learning that goes on in the risk zone between cradle and waterline that can’t be replicated other ways.

Or am I missing something?

Just by maneuvering a lifeboat in the water, and the fact it’s more like driving a bathtub than a boat, it doesn’t take a seasoned mariner to realize the design is a release and go - not meant to comeback alongside the ship and make it easy for recovery, which you would have to do for training. Maneuvering lifeboats take some getting use to. Especially for training, but less in an emergency - you just turn the helm a little and throttle the damn thing out of there. Not to damn hard. Recovery has no lifesaving value in my opinion.
The real value in running lifeboats is for mechanical reasons. You need to load up the engines to make sure the transmission and seals hold as these small diesels are loaded pretty good with a full compliment of personnel. We just replaced a transmission while still under warranty.
I do have my crew operate our lifeboats every 90 days per SOLAS. To mitigate and hopefully eliminate any risk to my crew we leave safety chains connected to the “lifting pad-eye” on the hook mechanism till right before the hydrostatic release activates before they are taken off. Then the hooks can be released after the safety chains. This evolution is only done while in port. We always conduct a brake test of each lifeboat without personnel by lowering at full rate and abruptly stop. This is done at least 3 times.
It would not hurt my feeling if there was more of an emphasis in emergency navigation because I think it’s lacking, but I don’t see a better way to address the mechanical side besides running the boat at least four time a year under a load, not in the cradle.

To mitigate and hopefully eliminate any risk to my crew we leave safety chains connected to the “lifting pad-eye” on the hook mechanism till right before the hydrostatic release activates before they are taken off.[/quote]

Why not lower the boats without anyone aboard then load them up after they have reached the water’s edge?

[QUOTE=john;19408]Why not lower the boats without anyone aboard then load them up after they have reached the water’s edge?[/QUOTE]

Our arrangement does not allow that. The lifeboats are near the 03-level and deployed over the foc’sle, the water’s edge is forward and under the rake of the bow making a sea painter basically useless for holding the lifeboat alongside - you’re just forced under the bow and inboard of the falls if you back down on the painter. Crazy, huh? We have used our man overboard boat at the same time, but with the inflation tubes (that you should not step on) it isn’t practical for transferring personnel from one boat to the other. To better clarify, it doesn’t take but a couple of guys to launch the boat - additional personnel are taken-on dockside - straight into the lifeboat. I might take a closer look at things again, before the next evolution, just to see if we can improve. It takes over an hour to do the paperwork and a majority of my decisions are based on the comfort level and training of the guys actually doing the work…following another review of applicable manuals, notices, and SMS requirements. It certainly is one of those things not to be taken lightly. In fact, I forwarded information from this thread to our director of safety at the training center. If he likes what he sees along with Mr.Gary and Dino, they would not blink an eye to add the hook and ball system to the fleet.