Any sort of workplace accident is bad news and needs to be avoided at all costs by applying the right safety protocols continuously. An accident on board a ship has the capacity to be one of the most dangerous of all given the surroundings and a lot of responsibility falls on the shoulders of the ship’s navigator to keep everyone safe.
As any maritime accident attorney will tell you, preventable accidents occur on a regular basis, often with tragic consequences.
Here is a look at some of the fundamental mistakes that can lead to a maritime accident.
Too reliant on the radar
A ship navigator is heavily reliant on radar data to chart a safe passage for their vessel but there are plenty of examples where an accident has occurred as a result of putting too much reliance solely on the radar readings.
It is possible that a smaller boat might not be picked up on the radar and that is why it is essential to keep a physical watch. Not looking out of the bridge window could create a collision situation that could have been avoided.
The “False Echo” problem
Staying on the theme of radar problems there is also a potential accident waiting to happen when a navigator makes a wrong assumption about what they are seeing on the radar screen.
A typical scenario where things could go wrong is when the navigator assumes that what is on the screen is a false echo and doesn’t take any aversive action. A collision could easily happen when a vessel has stopped and is drifting, making the case for a visual check just as compelling.
The best course of action is always to steer a different course rather than believing it is a so-called false echo.
Navigators rely on these visual clues when bringing the vessel in and a classic mistake that can lead to an accident is when these colored buoys are not interpreted correctly.
A simple lapse in concentration can easily lead to a navigator confusing the color of the buoys and taking the vessel to the wrong side of them.
Too much dependence on safety management systems
Technology has largely proved to be a positive factor when it comes to improving maritime safety but a navigator should not rely solely on the ship’s safety management system to stay out of trouble.
Onboard safety management systems provide a good level of guidance and governance but it still requires a navigator to make educated decisions based on the data they are being presented with.
Rudder angle errors
There have been a number of avoidable accidents that have occurred when a navigator has been found to apply helm in the wrong direction as a result of miscommunication with the helmsman.
The monitor rudder indicator available as part of the navigation equipment helps prevent this sort of accident and that is why it needs to be regularly monitored so that any error can be spotted at an early stage.
These are all relatively simple mistakes and if a navigator succumbs to any of these moments of fallibility it could have dangerous consequences.
If disaster strikes and an accident happens, you will need the help of a maritime lawyer to get any compensation due if a navigation error causes injury.