Two simple reports describing various BRM failings.
What the reporter told us (1):
After boarding this vessel, and conducting a comprehensive Master/Pilot information exchange, which included adjusting speeds during different parts of the pilotage, the pilot asked the master if engine revolutions could be increased to achieve a desired speed of 14.5 knots. The master replied “Yes”. The pilot then asked whether any notice was required to reduce RPM to manoeuvring speed, and the response was that no such notice was required. On this basis, the pilot asked the master to commence increasing RPM, which the master did.
After increasing the RPM, the master then advised the pilot, “Please give me 10 minutes notice to reduce RPM to manoeuvring speed”, to which the pilot responded, “Please take this as 10 minutes notice to reduce RPM starting from now”.
In a channel transit that takes 35 minutes, it is not operationally practical to give 10 minutes notice for RPM adjustment. The maximum practical time is 5 minutes with the caveat that in case of an emergency there will be NO notice given.
In this case, even though a robust master/pilot exchange was conducted and apparently agreed, the pilot and the master were obviously not on the same page.
What the reporter told us (2):
Just as the vessel was entering a channel where the under-keel clearance was only 1.3m, the master advised me that he was going to his cabin to carry out paperwork, and the chief officer would be on the bridge. I advised the master that we were entering the narrowest and shallowest part of the passage and that he must remain on the bridge. He agreed to this. The master was friendly and cooperative throughout.
The Maritime Advisory Board commented that these reports highlight both communication and standard operational procedure misunderstandings or failings.
Relating to the first report, there was quite a lot of discussion about the apparent misunderstanding between the pilot and the master. Perhaps with today’s modern engines that have “run up” and “slow down” programmes, the master thought that there was no delay, but it would still take 10 or 20 minutes to achieve full speed or manoeuvring revolutions. In addition, there could have been a language barrier between the master and pilot where English was not their native tongue or first language. Whilst it is fully accepted that 10 minutes notice is a standard terminology for increasing and reducing main engine revolutions, does the modern load up / load down programme of an engine take this into account, or should we be asking “How long will it take to speed up / slow down to xxx knots?”
With respect to the second report, the standard operating procedures of a company should dictate that the master is not allowed to leave the bridge during critical sections of a passage, including critical pilotage areas. It is also important to highlight that the master should be well-rested at these times. It is disappointing that paperwork and administration is considered to have a higher priority than navigational safety. Personnel requirements at particular stages of a pilotage could form an integral part of the Master / Pilot Information Exchange.