Ships and other sea vessels have careful communication protocols to promote clarity and ensure the lowest possible risk of accidents. Incorrect or improper use of communication at sea can cause serious problems because shipping vessels can hold many tons of cargo or thousands of people, and they might not be located near a place where rescue is possible.
Incidents with communication at sea
Two incidents indicate the importance of communication. The first is about a crossing of the Suez Canal. A ship accidentally swung into the coast, causing damage. However, the pilot and officers on deck did not report the incident to the master of the next shift. As a result, the damage worsened, and the hull fractured in the dock later on, making the problem worse.
The second incident is a case where a ship had a malfunction with a steam valve while at sea. Staff members were down to two valves out of three, but they neglected to report this to the port when they docked. That meant they didn’t get repairs in time and wound up being blacklisted from that port for future use. Both of these incidents came about because of missed opportunities to communicate important information about the ship’s condition, leading to missed handovers and worse outcomes.
Correct, prompt and complete communication is crucial for maintaining the health and safety of everyone on board as well as for compliance with local regulations. Sticking to the proper chain of reporting incidents and issues to the next shift and to the right authorities is essential. This keeps legal exposure to a minimum and maximizes safety and security.