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Bridge Resource Management on Ships

Bridge Resource Management  & Bridge Team Management:

Situational Awareness and the conditions that affect Situational awareness of an OOW as per BRM:

  • BRM (Bridge Resource Management) addresses the management of operational tasks, as well as stress, attitudes and risk. BRM recognizes there are many elements of job effectiveness and safety, such as individual, organizational and regulatory factors, and they must be anticipated and planned for.
  • BRM enables the bridge team to mark the abort points and various contingencies (anchorage and berth).
  • BRM begins before the voyage with the passage plan and continues through the end of the voyage with the passage debrief, debriefing or evaluation helps in improvement.
Situational awareness:
  • Present state of weather, wind, sea state, swell and visibility and the meterological forecast.
  • Present draft and depth of water, proximity of hazards and effect of squat.
  • State of tide and current and effect of the same.
  • Communications with VTS and any safety related communication with all the stations.
  • All the displays on bridge – tachometer, rudder angle indicator, ROTI, UKC, anemometer, inclinometer etc, also displays for course steered and course made good, speed through water and speed over ground.
  • Awareness of own ship’s configuration, maneuvering characteristics (turning circle, stopping distance etc).
  • Awareness of the equipment and systems and the limitations. These include bridge equipment, communication equipment, propulsion and steering.
  • Adjustment of various setting for example radar, auto pilot etc.

Many factors can cause you to lose situational awareness, data not observed, either because it is difficult to observe or your scanning of the environment is deficient due to:

  • Passive, complacent behavior.
  • Lack of training, lack of familiarization, lack of experience, lack of competency.
  • Lack of interest, lack of motivation, fear, lack of communication skill.
  • Over reliance on a person, system or equipment.
  • Inability to understand change in traffic/ weather conditions.
  • High work load, stress and fatigue.
  • Ambiguity, confusion, distraction and interruptions etc.

Principles of Bridge Resource Management (BRM):

  • Shared view of goals.
  • Delegation of responsibilities
  • Effective organization and sense of team owner ship in achieving goals.
  • Bridge Resource Management (BRM), or as it is called Bridge Team Management (BTM), is the effective management and utilization of all resources, human and technical, available to the Bridge Team to ensure the safe completion of the vessel’s voyage.
  • BRM focuses on bridge officer’s skills such as teamwork, team building, communication, leadership, decision making and resource management and incorporate this into the larger picture of organizational and regulatory management.
  • BRM addresses the management of operational tasks, as well as stress, attitudes and risk. BRM recognizes there are many elements of job effectiveness and safety, such as individual, organizational and regulatory factors and they must be anticipated and planned for.
  • BRM enables the bridge team to mark the abort points and various contingencies (anchorage and berth).
  • BRM begins before the voyage with the passage plan and continues through the end of the voyage with the passage debrief, debriefing or evaluation helps in improvement.

Importance of Bridge Resource Management on board & factors that affect the effective use of BRM with onboard situation:

  • When BRM is practiced correctly onboard the result should be a Bridge Team that.
  • Maintain its situational awareness hence avoids accidents.
  • Continually monitors the progress of the vessel making appropriate adjustments and corrections as necessary to maintain a safe passage.
  • Acquires relevant information early.
  • Appropriately delegates workload and authority.
  • Anticipates dangerous situations.
  • Avoid becoming pre-occupied with minor technical problems and losing sight of the big picture.
  • Decides on met warnings/ navigational warnings applicable to own vessel.
  • Undertakes appropriate contingency plans when called for.
  • Can be beneficial to make the short term strategy if required.
  • Recognizes the development of an error chain; and
  • Takes appropriate action to break the error-chain sequence.
  • Debriefing can help in improvement of future passage plan and possible suggestion to improve SMS checklists / procedures.

BRM tends to develop confidence in each individual, as it focuses on the human factor so hence enables to fulfill the various requirements of charter party without compromising with ship’s safety.


How to effectively use the various resources such as Navigational Equipment on the bridge and available man power for safe keeping a safe navigational watch at sea based on the principle of Bridge Resource Management:

Effectively use of Various resources with respect to Navigational Equipment: A mariner has many resources available to him for safe passage planning and execution and monitoring. Some examples include:

  • Electronic equipment (i.e. radar, echo sounder, GPS / DGPS, ARPA, gyro compass, AIS etc).
  • Charts and nautical publications, including electronic publications.
  • Environmental factors (i.e. visibility, tide, wind, sea, swell & currents).
  • Electronic Charting and Display information Systems (ECDIS).
  • Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) and usage of IMO ship’s routeing.
  • All the displays on bridge tachometer, rudder angle indicator, ROTI, UKC, anemometer, inclinometer etc, also displays for course steered and course made good, speed through water and speed over ground.
  • Internal and external communication equipment.
  • Met warnings and navigational warning through ECG, Navtex etc.
  • Bridge Personnel (i.e. Master, Officer on Watch (OOW), helmsman, lookout etc.)
  • Persons with local knowledge (i.e. Pilot).

Implementing Bridge Resource Management on my vessel:- The Master can implement BRM by considering and addressing the following:

  • Passage Planning:- covering ocean, coastal and pilotage waters. Particular attention is paid to high traffic areas, shallow waters, or pilotage waters where the plan incorporates appropriate margins of safety and contingency plans for unexpected (abort points and contingency anchorages).
  • Passage Plan Briefing:- all bridge team members are briefed on the passage plan and understand the intended route and procedures to transit the route.
  • Bridge Manning:- Master uses passage plan to anticipate areas of high workload and risk and sets manning levels appropriately.
  • Bridge Team Training (ashore and on-the-job) – is given all bridge members and they are sure of their roles and responsibilities, both for their routine duties and their duties in the event of an incident / emergency.
  • Master’s Standing Orders- are read and signed before the commencement on the voyage. Orders are clear on the chain of command, how decision and instructions are given on the bridge and responded to, and how bridge team members bring safety concerns to the notice of the Master. Master’s standing orders must not in conflict with company’s standing orders/ procedures.
  • Master / Pilot Exchange – the passage plan is discussed by the Master and the pilot and changes made as necessary. Any new information is communicated to the rest of the bridge team. When the pilot is onboard he/she should be supported as a temporary bridge team member, relevant checklists to be complied with, pilot advice can be challenged as and when required.
  • End of Voyage Debriefing –  provides the opportunity for the bridge team to review the passage plan’s strengths and weaknesses, make suggestions for improved safety or communications, and improve team problem solving skills.

Factors to be taken into account when determining bridge manning levels:

Determination of minimum safe manning levels (SOLAS CHAPTER V – Annex 2):-

  • The purpose of determining the minimum safe manning level of a ship is to ensure that its complement includes the grades/capacities and number of persons required for the safe operation of the ship and the protection of the marine environment.
  • The minimum safe manning level of a ship should be established taking into account all relevant factors, including the following:
    • size and type of ship;
    • number, size and type of main propulsion units and auxiliaries;
    • construction and equipment of the ship;
    • method of maintenance used;
    • cargo to be carried;
    • frequency of port calls, length and nature of voyages to be undertaken;
    • trading area(s), waters and operations in which the ship is involved;
    • extent to which training activities are conducted on board; and
    • applicable work hour limits and/or rest requirements.
  • The determination of the minimum safe manning level of a ship should be based on performance of the functions at the appropriate level(s) of responsibility, as specified in the STCW Code, which include the following:
    • navigation, comprising the tasks, duties and responsibilities required to:
    • plan and conduct safe navigation;
    • maintain a safe navigational watch in accordance with the requirements of the STCW Code;
    • manoeuvre and handle the ship in all conditions; and
    • moor and unmoor the ship safely;
  •  cargo handling and stowage, comprising the tasks, duties and responsibilities required to:
    • plan, monitor and ensure safe loading, stowage, securing, care during the voyage and unloading of cargo to be carried on the ship;
  • operation of the ship and care for persons on board, comprising the tasks, duties and responsibilities required to:
    • maintain the safety and security of all persons on board and keep life-saving, fire-fighting and other safety systems in operational condition;
    • operate and maintain all watertight closing arrangements;
  • perform operations, as appropriate, to muster and disembark all persons on board;
    • perform operations, as appropriate, to ensure protection of the marine environment;
    • provide for medical care on board the ship; and
    • undertake administrative tasks required for the safe operation of the ship;
  • In determining the minimum safe manning level of a ship, consideration should also be given to:
    • the number of qualified and other personnel required to meet peak workload situations and conditions, with due regard to the number of hours of shipboard duties and rest periods assigned to seafarers; and
    • the capability of the master and the ship’s complement to co-ordinate the activities necessary for the safe operation of the ship and the protection of the marine environment.

Define ‘Emergency’. How does SOLAS ensure that ship’s crew can deal with various emergencies that may arise? Describe how this achieved on your last ship:

Emergency:- A serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.

To ensure that Ship’s crew can deal with various emergencies, Emergency Training & Drills are given as per SOLAS Regulation 19

Regulation 19 Emergency training and drills

  1. This regulation applies to all ships.
  2. Familiarity with safety installations and practice musters:
    1. Every crew member with assigned emergency duties shall be familiar with these duties before the voyage begins.
    2. On a ship engaged on a voyage where passengers are scheduled to be on board for more than 24 h, musters of the passengers shall take place within 24 h after their embarkation. Passengers shall be instructed in the use of the lifejackets and the action to take in an emergency.
  3. Drills:
    1. Drills shall, as far as practicable, be conducted as if there were an actual emergency.
    2. Every crew member shall participate in at least one abandon ship drill and one fire drill every month. The drills of the crew shall take place within 24h of the ship leaving a port if more than 25% of the crew have not participated in abandon ship and fire drills on board that particular ship in the previous month. When a ship enters service for the first time, after modification of a major character or when a new crew is engaged, these drills shall be held before sailing.
    3. Abandon ship drill
    4. Each abandon ship drill shall include:
      1. summoning of passengers and crew to muster stations with the alarm required by regulation 6.4.2 followed by drill announcement on the public address or other communication system and ensuring that they are made aware of the order to abandon ship;
      2. reporting to stations and preparing for the duties described in the muster list;
      3. checking that passengers and crew are suitably dressed;
      4. checking that lifejackets are correctly donned;
      5. lowering of at least one lifeboat after any necessary preparation for launching;
      6. starting and operating the lifeboat engine;
      7. operation of davits used for launching liferafts;
      8. a mock search and rescue of passengers trapped in their staterooms; and
      9. instruction in the use of radio life-saving appliances.
    5. Different lifeboats shall, as far as practicable, be lowered in compliance with the requirements of paragraph 3.3.1.5 at successive drills.
    6. Except as provided in paragraphs 3.3.4 and 3.3.5, each lifeboat shall be launched, and manoeuvred in the water by its assigned operating crew, at least once every three months during an abandon ship drill.
    7. In the case of a lifeboat arranged for free-fall launching, at least once every three months during an abandon ship drill the crew shall board the lifeboat, properly secure themselves in their seats and commence launch procedures up to but not including the actual release of the lifeboat (i.e., the release hook shall not be released). The lifeboat shall then either be free-fall launched with only the required operating crew on board, or lowered into the water by means of the secondary means of launching with or without the operating crew on board. In both cases the lifeboat shall thereafter be manoeuvred in the water by the operating crew. At intervals of not more than six months, the lifeboat shall either be launched by free-fall with only the operating crew on board, or simulated launching shall be carried out in accordance with the guidelines developed by the Organization.
    8. As far as is reasonable and practicable, rescue boats other than lifeboats which are also rescue boats, shall be launched each month with their assigned crew aboard and manoeuvred in the water. In all cases this requirement shall be complied with at least once every three months
    9. Emergency lighting for mustering and abandonment shall be tested at each abandon ship drill.
  4. Fire Drills:
    1. Fire drills should be planned in such a way that due consideration is given to regular practice in the various emergencies that may occur depending on the type of ships and the cargo.
    2. Each fire drill shall include:
      1. reporting to stations and preparing for the duties described in the muster list required by regulation 8;
      2. starting of a fire pump, using at least the two required jets of water to show that the system is in proper working order;
      3. checking of fireman’s outfit and other personal rescue equipment;
      4. checking of relevant communication equipment;
      5. checking the operation of watertight doors, fire doors, fire dampers and main inlets and outlets of ventilation systems in the drill area; and
      6. checking the necessary arrangements for subsequent abandoning of the ship.

Leadership with respect to bridge resource management principles:

Explanation:- (Prepare your answer based on the Marks)

Leadership: Becoming an effective leader is not easy, it requires Part Skill Development and Part Experience. Leadership is Action and not Position.

Leadership Principles: A principle is a “Tested form of Action”, proven useful in the skill of leadership in isolation, principles are ineffective – must be applied based on the situation.

The Leadership Principles need to have these qualities:

  1. Show interest
  2. Positive approach
  3. Complaints
  4. Promises
  5. Get the facts
  6. Discussion basis
  7. Design an approach
  8. Explain why
  9. Admit mistakes
  10. Reasonable expectations
  11. Be prompt
  12. Compliment
  13. Prepare for change
  1. Show Interest: Develop a Relationship
    • Frequent personal contact – Listen to others.
    • Keep an open and honest attitude.
    • Take time to learn & understand other people’s needs.
    • Sell ideas based on merit, value to others.
    • Never force a personal agenda
    • Offer suggestions to help others solve their OWN problems.
  2. Positive approach:
    • Consider other person’s feelings & objectives in planning what you do/say.
    • Plan before you speak.
    • Give “benefit of the doubt”
    • Avoid jumping to conclusions
    • Consider other’s point of view and emotional state
    • Keep negative emotion out of discussion.
  3. Complaints / Suggestions: View complaints not as personal criticism, but as valuable feedback and suggestions.
    • Address complaints quickly, listen to whole story.
    • Remain composed, calm – avoid interruptions.
    • Show problem is understood by restating it, ask questions to clarify misunderstandings.
    • Show appreciation, and indicate what will be done.
    • Follow Up with action.
  4. Promises: Make few promises, and keep them.
    • Credibility lost when leadership fails to keep promises.
    • Ensure commitment is realistic and attainable.
    • Keep stakeholders informed of progress.
    • If situations change, and promise cannot be kept:
      • Immediately contact those affected, avoid rumours
      • Explain carefully and thoroughly the reasons.
      • Allow free feedback, consider others.
      • Follow up with mutually agreed corrective actions.
  5. The Facts: Examine all facets of a situation
    • Evaluate evidence
    • Allow everyone involved to express viewpoint
    • Consider other’s rights, what’s fair.
    • Ignore unsubstantiated information.
    • Base decisions on logical thinking, not emotions.
  6. Discussion basis: Keep it a business-like discussion
    • Stick to the subject
    • Listen respectfully
    • Avoid getting hung up on personalities
    • Grant that other person “may have something”
    • Do not loose temper
    • Plan the time and place for the discussion
  7. Design an Approach: Approach appeals to other’s motivations and emotions.
    • Be pleasant, remain calm.
    • Use questions, and listen to responses.
    • Observe body language, clues to other’s feelings.
    • Give direct answers.
    • Speak in a manner the other participants understand / relate to
  8. Explain Why: Reasons why/why not
    • Be truthful.
    • Show willingness to answer questions
    • Let others “in on the know”
    • Present the complete story.
    • MAY HAVE TO MODIFY FOR SHIP USE

Effective Communication with the respect to Bridge Resource Management Principles:

Effective Communication: Communication is at the heart of any relationship, be it familial, business, romantic, or friendly.

  • Communication is not a one-way street.
  • To have others open up to you, you must open up yourself first.
  • By overcoming these barriers to communication, you can ensure that the statement you are making is not just heard, but also understood, by the person you are speaking with.
  • In this way, you can be confident that your point has been expressed and understood.

Types of Communication:

Verbal Communication:

  • Verbal communication continues to be the most important aspect of our interaction with other people.
  • It’s important to understand both the benefits and shortcomings of this most basic communication.

Non-verbal Communication:

  • It is any kind of communication not involving words.
  • When the term is used, most people think of facial expressions and gestures, but while these are important elements of non-verbal communication, they are not the only ones.
  • Non-verbal communication can include vocal sounds that are not words such as grunts, sighs and whimpers.
  • Even when actual words are being used, there are non-verbal sound elements such as voice tone, pacing of speed and so forth.

Effective Verbal Communication:

  • It has more to do with listening than it does with speaking because you are always dealing with an audience.
  • This is true no matter whether you are speaking to a crowd of thousands or to a party of one.
  • Listening is key because when you address an audience, no matter the size, you have to meet its needs to communicate effectively, and to know the needs of your audience, you have to listen.

Formal Communication:

  • It can be considered as communication efforts that are “dressed up” to fit customary rules and ceremony e.g. in a written letter, the formal communication style will demand that the layout of the piece of written communication follow a specific format that includes the date, header, salutation, body of the letter, close, signature lines and any indicators of enclosures all placed neatly upon company letterhead or personal stationery.
  • By contrast, an informal piece of written communication can be as simple as a jotted note to a friend on a torn slip of paper.

Informal Communication:

  • If formal communication is viewed like dressing for a black tie affair, informal communication is like dressing casually and wearing slippers around the house.
  • Much informal communication occurs on a person to person basis, in a face-to-face manner, without ceremony or fanfare.
  • Other ways to communicate in an informal manner may include texting, post-it notes, an informal drop in visit to another person, or a quick and spontaneous meeting.

Communication through Body Language:

  • Communication is how human beings interact with the world that surrounds them.
  • There are many forms of communication, some being more effective at conveying the intent or feelings of the individual expressing than others.
  • Many people have a hard time with communication, and can find it difficult to tell others what they think or to give them bad news.
  • Sometimes, they can’t find the right words to express the things they want to say.
  • There are also those people who are not to be believed due to a history of dishonesty or embellishing the truth.
  • One form of communication, however, is always honest and can always be counted on.

Bridge Team Management:

The OOW is in charge of the Bridge Team, until properly relieved, in compliance with the SMS and Master’s Standing Orders. This responsibility extends to ensuring that bridge watch manning levels are at all times maintained at a safe level for the prevailing circumstances and conditions. An OOW should be on watch on the bridge at all times at sea or at anchor. All members of the Bridge Team including look-outs and any helmsmen should be fit for duty.

Importance of Communication in Bridge Team Management:

Importance of Communication in Bridge Team Management on Ship
IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATION

Verbal Communication:

  • Is either spoken or written
  • Helps to build relationships
  • Helps in task completion
  • On its own can hinder effective communications
  • The “how” it is said may be more important than “what” is said
  • Written communications must be clear, precise and informative

Non – Verbal Communication:

Complements verbal communication by:

  • Repeating what is being said
  • Reinforces verbal communications
  • Enables emphasis to be placed on certain words
  • Contradicts the verbal message
  • Substitutes for verbal behaviour

Debriefs – An Aid to Effective Communication:

Debriefs should be held as they:

  • Enable learning
  • Prevent repetition of errors
  • Enable improvement
  • Reinforce correct behaviour with positive feedback
  • Emphasise positives

Dis-advantages of Ineffective Communication:

  • Miscommunication
  • Poor team performance
  • Increase in the risk of an incident
  • Threatens the safety of the vessel

Guidelines for Effective Bridge Communication:

  • Give Respect
  • Generate good body language
  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Listen actively
  • Simplicity
  • Use pictures and diagrams
  • Use standardised words and phrases (IMO SMCP)
  • Never assume
  • Be happy (smile)

Importance of ‘Feedback’ for effective communication on bridge:

Effective feedback is critical as it:

  • Ensures that the sender and receiver are “on the same page”.
  • Closes the communication loop.
  • Prevents the receiver misunderstanding the original intent of the message.

Assertiveness with on board examples:

Assertiveness is the ability to communicate what you feel is correct in an open and honest manner possibly without hurting the feelings of others.

Passive Behavior: Failing to state your needs, wants, opinions, feelings or beliefs in direct honest and appropriate ways, Stating them in a way that others can easily disregard them.

Aggressive Behavior: Ignoring or dismissing the needs, wants, opinions, feelings, or beliefs of others. Expressing your own needs or wants in inappropriate ways.

Importance of Assertiveness:

  • Effective communication brings about the achievement of individual and/ or shared goals.
  • Assertiveness increases your ability to reach these goals while maintaining your rights and dignity.

Guidelines for being assertive:

  • Decide what you want
  • Say it clearly and specifically
  • Support what you say by how you say it.
  • Don’t be manipulated or sidetracked.
  • Listen
  • Aim for a working compromise or “win win” situation

Applicability on ship board work:

  • Reprimanding or criticizing a member of staff
  • Delegating an unpleasant task
  • During appraisals
  • Resolving conflicts
  • Making sure the things on ship as per valid company requirement and regulations
  • Maintaining discipline
  • Economical control