Is Too Much Technology Causing Maritime Accidents?

Photo of boatsIn a previous blog, we described a boat accident that occurred due to distracted boat operators, one of whom was distracted by paperwork and the other hanging his fishing nets. However, a recent article published by Marine Electronics & Communications describes a very different type of distraction that has possibly caused an increase in maritime accidents.

The article claims bridge crewmembers have become too distracted by communications equipment and are generally too reliant on navigation technology.

Has Technology Made Seafarers Too Comfortable?

In one report, an inspector for maritime accidents said rather than seafarers asking “what can go wrong?” and anticipating problems, technology has made them complacent. Navigation and communication equipment allows seafarers to take more dangerous routes, which has led to an increase in collisions and groundings. Rather than simply looking out the window to get a visual, officers on watch become distracted with VHF communications, safety or navigations messages. Additionally, seafarers have become too reliant on radar, AIS or ECDIS.

Rather than being solely reliant on these distracting technology, seafarers should look out the window to others ships and light vessels in order to get the best view of what exactly is happening around the ship, including getting a better sense of spatial awareness that will help to make the best navigation decisions possible. While this seems like common sense, more maritime accidents are occurring because operators were too distracted.

Relying Solely on Navigation Equipment and Communications Can Result in a Maritime Accident

Seafarers should be watching out the window and use navigation technology as confirmation, rather than the source of information used when making navigation decisions. As of now, more officers are misusing bridge technology and hindering safe navigation. Seafarers must remember their training and rely on their observational abilities and instinct, rather than being dependent on technology simply because it seems more convenient.

Latti & Anderson LLP is a maritime injury law firm that fights for workers who are injured at sea.