Federal agencies Transportation

NTSB: Bridge teams should use ‘all available resources’ to avoid maritime incidents

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Washington — Safe navigation of bulk carriers requires bridge teams to use all available resources – including paper charts, electronic charts and radar – to avoid potential hazards. That’s the National Transportation Safety Board’s conclusion after its investigation into a January 2021 incident involving a bulk carrier striking an oil and gas production platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

According to a marine investigative report issued Sept. 23, poor resource management and a charting error by the bridge of the Ocean Princess caused the carrier to strike SP-83A – an uncrewed, out-of-service production platform located 24 miles south of Pilottown, LA. The incident occurred despite the bridge team seeing the platform’s lights roughly 10 minutes beforehand.

The platform appeared on a paper chart used on the bridge by the mate but not on official U.S. electronic or paper navigation charts.

 

“The effective use of all available resources by a bridge team increases collective situational awareness and contributes to a safe navigation watch,” the report states. It adds that bridge teams should avoid overreliance on a single resource and instead cross-check information with other available resources. They also should communicate any identified risks with fellow watch standers.

NTSB cautions that when bridge teams rely on only one navigational resource, overconfidence can develop and adversely affect situational awareness.

The agency reports that the platform was added to U.S. paper charts in 1990, when it was built. However, it was omitted from the charts 20 years later for unknown reasons. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration added the platform back onto all U.S. charts after the 2021 incident, the report states.

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