The United States is beginning to see the effects of dropping protocols on COVID (4th wave), while other regions are back in lockdown. Assuming a transit through the Suez which is executed flawlessly 99% of the time by thousands of vessels is routine (Ever Given). A gun rampage on a FedEX depot in Indianapolis leading to 8 deaths. Deciding to approach a coastline in order to get better cellular phone reception (Wakashio). Believing that crew will continue to sail regardless of their circumstances, and welfare. These are all examples of situations that must not become routine on land or at sea.
Complacency is defined as “self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies”. It is an umbrella of ignorance, whether intentional or not. Above all, it is dangerous in all of its guises.
A few years ago, I was a guest of MAIB (Maritime Accident Investigation Board) in Southampton, UK. They graciously provided me with a tour of their facility, as well as coffee and a chat. I asked what was the common thread amongst their investigations? They answered that a reliance on technology without verification. A prime example was a collision between two vessels because one of the ship’s officers were relying on their displays instead of looking out and seeing the oncoming vessel.
This morning I was the opening keynote for the King’s Point DigiMariner III webinar for cadets and industry. One of the points that I felt was important to stress was the need for vigilance, verification, AND veracity. Our 2021 operating environment demands all three, no matter the sophistication of the digital tools at hand.