Results of training

The goal of training should be results, not certificates. With clients as shipping companies, insurance providers, pilot associations, manning agencies and others who suffer when accidents take place, results are what matter to us. To achieve results from training we first of all need an understanding and an acceptance of the training concept and contents. But this is not enough. The subsequent implementation is the key. On this page we will present statistics that have been important for the development and success of the maritime resource management training programme. The statistics kept us motivated to proceed during the early years of resource management training when few in the industry were interested in, or even aware of, human factors training. Recent casualties, such as the Costa Concordia, have put the spotlight on the need for human and organizational factors training in the maritime industry. The Costa Concordia accident alone took 32 people’s lives and has an estimated cost of USD 2 billion for wreck removal and scrapping.

Understanding and Acceptance

In the early 1990s, when resource management was a new training concept in the maritime industry, it was more difficult to reach out. The training initiative came from the industry who had identified a training gap. It was not an STCW requirement. “Why do training if we don’t need the certificate?” was often heard. People attending information meetings about resource management were sceptical at the time. However, a few safety-oriented shipping companies gave it a try and got started. The feedback received from the course participants exceeded our expectations. A captain attending the course said: “I had always felt that there was something missing in the training that I had done. When I attended the MRM course, I immediately knew what I had been missing.” It was clear that the first important steps to achieve results, the understanding and the acceptance, had been accomplished.

The 200 first course participants attending MRM training in Greece gave the following feedback:

How useful will this training be to you in your present position?

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(The response alternative “Not at all useful” was not mentioned by anyone.)

Implementation

MRM training equips people with new tools and a willingness (the “attitude change”) to use those tools. The tools could be new and improved ways of communicating and working as a team. It is straightforward and not complicated. Still, not all companies succeed. There have to be an understanding and a commitment from the shore-side as well. Implementing MRM is a matter of establishing a new culture and this can only be done from the very top of the company. The results of MRM being implemented in a shipping company are extra-ordinary. Star Cruises is one example. The graph below shows Star Cruises’ navigational insurance claims statistics compared to other cruise lines and merchant ships during the period 1998-2007. Despite operating in difficult and congested waters, Star Cruises had zero insurance claims for the eight ships that they operated during this period and the good performance has been maintained. (Source: The Swedish Club)

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“What the seafarer needs is a simple explanation about what is meant by human factors so he or she can better understand why it matters, and what needs to be done to improve safety and conditions of service. MRM training addresses the issue of human factors without confusing the seafarer or managers with fancy words and confusing terminology.”

Captain Gustaf Grönberg, Senior Vice President, Marine Operations, Star Cruises

Captain Grönberg acknowledges the usefulness of MRM to establish an understanding of human factors and a means to provide a set of tools to be used in the workplace. But, as said, this is just the starting point. The implementation work remains and there are several factors involved that determine whether implementation is successful or not. Star Cruises managed and in the successful cases that we are aware of, the following factors have been identified:

Success factors
  • Commitment from the top. For most companies this comes as a consequence of one or more major incidents.
  • Shore-side understanding of the training concept. Could be achieved by attending half-day “Introduction to MRM” seminars.
  • Key personnel on the shore-side acting as the link between ship and shore and driving the implementation – supporting, following-up, etc.
  • Teamwork and mutual trust between ship and shore.
  • An open culture where it is accepted and considered important to discuss, analyse and share information about incidents. Incidents should be seen as “learning opportunities” (which is positive) rather than something to feel ashamed about (which is negative).
  • Keep good safety margins and do not take risks. Beware of prestige.
  • Follow procedures. They are there for a good reason.
  • Use “debriefings”. They are an important part of continuous learning. A debriefing after arrival and departure only need to take a couple of minutes.
  • Make sure everyone feels part of the team, irrespective of nationality or rank. Welcome “challenges”. It is the team leader who sets the climate.
  • Keep MRM training alive. Attend refresher courses on a regular basis to maintain and further develop your MRM skills. The most successful companies even send their officers to attend MRM Facilitator courses. This is to maintain standards, strengthen their roles as MRM ambassadors on board and to avoid complacency.
  • Feel proud of your achievements. Accidents can happen to any company and sometimes the best people are involved in the worst accidents. However, accidents are caused by system failures rather than bad luck. Over time there will be a big difference in accident frequency between the companies who have made the success factors listed here part of their system and the companies who have not.

MRM is Advanced Learning for Life.