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Maritime Situational Awareness - Science Art or Myth?

“Situational Awareness” is a term commonly used in many fields especially those associated with Maritime industries and is frequently (erroneously) considered as a “contributory factor” or even a “root cause” underlying major and minor collisions, allisions and other undesirable events in investigation reports. Yet, what is Situational Awareness?

Is it a factually defined absolute condition or simply a concept of arbitrary parameters appropriate to circumstances?

What do those who quote it, apparently with all the background understanding required, actually mean by it?

Does the situational awareness experienced by an individual reflect that experienced by another in the same location?

Can a person “lose situational awareness” and if so then what exactly does that mean?

This presentation will discuss this much misunderstood and misquoted phrase from a Human Element perspective and in addition look at some of the factors that affect the awareness and accuracy of the navigator’s geographical situation when using certain ubiquitous electronic navigational aids. 

This presentation is part of a panel discussion that considers the loss of Situational Awareness.

 The loss can occur over a period of time and leave a trail of clues that warn of lost or diminished Situational Awareness including:

• Confusion or gut feeling

• No one watching or looking for hazards

• Use of improper procedures

• Departure from regulations

• Failure to meet planned targets

• Unresolved discrepancies

• Ambiguity

• Fixation or preoccupation



Captain Don Cockrill MBE FNI - Secretary General, UK Maritime Pilots Association

Don’s seafaring adventures began in 1973 as a cadet with Canadian Pacific (CP Ships) from where having progressed to master specialising in petro-chemicals he spent a brief period with Stolt-Neilson before joining the Port of London Authority as a pilot in 1991 where he still works as one of the senior pilots.

Concurrently throughout almost all of that period he has been involved one way or another in the administration and work of the United Kingdom Maritime Pilots’ Association most recently as its chairman for 5 years until November 2015. He is now engaged by the UKMPA in the role of Secretary General.

For voluntary services to Maritime Pilotage and the Port Industry Don was awarded an MBE in the 2017 New Years Honours.

He is passionate about the promotion of safety issues and the maintenance of the highest professional standards. His significant lifelong experience and associated expertise in maritime operations within the ports and shipping industries, is often sought after.


NEXT GEN Workshops - October 2017

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