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OCIMF – Pro Active Use of VDR

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Category: Navigation Assessment, OCIMF, Remote Navigation Assessment

Ocimf – Proactive Use of VDR

Collisions, contact damage/allisions and groundings are commonly categorised as navigational incidents when assessing incident statistics.

Below table provides the details of the relative percentages of the causes of oil tanker casualties in EMSA’s statistics from 2011 to 2018. These figures show that navigational casualties accounted for 48.7% of the total oil tanker casualties reported by EMSA during that period.

These results indicate that the percentage of navigational incidents has remained virtually constant over the period despite the advances made in bridge training and the provision of technological aids.

It has been estimated that 75-96% of marine accidents can involve human error (see Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty’s Safety and Shipping 1912-2012. From Titanic to Costa Concordia). In addition, analysis of almost 15,000 marine liability insurance claims between 2011 and 2016 showed human error to be a primary factor in 75% of the value of all claims analysed (see Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty’s Safety & Shipping Review 2019). It is evident that the major causes of collisions and groundings will be human factors and navigation-related rather than due to factors such as equipment failure or weather. This indicates that there is opportunity to reduce the incidence of such accidents further. One of the ways this could be achieved is via VDR data, either through the promotion of lessons learned from previous incidents, or by proactive review of VDR data on a regular basis, e.g. by conducting remote navigational assessments and audits.

Statistics on vessel activity at time of navigation incidents

The OCIMF SIRE incident repository (as of 25 November 2019) contains 394 records related to navigational incidents. When reporting an incident into this database, it is possible to include a description of the incident along with further items such as primary and secondary consequences, type of activity, location, severity and root cause(s). The type of location in which incidents happened is particularly interesting as it provides an insight into where the risk of navigational incidents is greatest during a voyage. The distribution of navigational incidents in different location types is shown in figure 2. Considering the rates at which vessels will be in each location type, it appears that the risk of navigational incidents is greatest when in port areas and restricted waters (effectively all the location types shown except for ‘Coastal Waters’ and ‘Deep Sea’). Navigational assessments and audits could have a greatest impact on incident statistics if focussed on these locations.
As outlined in section 5.2 of OCIMF’s A Guide to Best Practice for Navigational Assessments and Audits, Remote Navigation Assessment/Audit (RNA) offers advantages to traditional onboard audits, including:
• Allowing the assessment to be made in a more natural environment, without any influence due to the presence of an external assessor on the bridge.
• Making a navigational assessment where the trading pattern of the vessel makes it difficult to perform a traditional assessment. (This aspect is also acknowledged in the Tanker Management Self Assessment (TMSA) section 5.4.1 in OCIMF’s A Guide Best Practice Guidance for Navigational Audits).
• Ensuring onboard familiarity with the process of saving and downloading data from the VDR so that, if ever required, data will be available following an incident.
Section 5.2.2 in OCIMF’s Tanker Management and Self Assessment 3 – A Best Practice Guide (TMSA3) also requires that ‘a procedure is in place for appropriate shore-based personnel to conduct navigational verification assessments’. The associated guidance on best practice recommends that a review includes items such as passage plans and navigational records. In the past such reviews have been largely paper-based, which can make it difficult to guarantee their accuracy. However, the latest generation of VDRs is now required to store screenshots from the ECDIS which is in use at that time as the primary means of navigation on board. If there are multiple ECDIS displays in use, and the VDR cannot identify which one is the primary means of navigation, then it should record all of them.
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