Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I'm glad somebody is saying this

Last weekend while at the NHS Winter Retreat, the attendees were amazed to watch the initial reports of the Costa Concordia sinking roll in - no pun intended.  I'm not going to get into the weeds on this, but suffice it to say that I'm very relieved to see some of the press more latched on to the "over-reliance on electronic navigation" and "a failure of judgement by the captain" and less on "we need safer ships and higher training standards".

Ships today - by and large - are very safe.  Remarkably so.  But the mariners who manage them on the other hand, well, as one myself I can tell you I've grown increasingly concerned over the past 10 years that fewer and fewer are rooted in the fundamentals of that profession.  So many today rely on electronic gizmos - and it's so easy to! - that the most basic principles, such as management of lifesaving on a foundering ship, are going by the wayside.  There was an old Quartermaster aboard my first Navy ship - the crusty  type who is almost irritating to talk to at first.  But I learned quite a bit from him, including evolved use of the Mark 1 Mod 0 Eyeball.  As incidents like these continue, I wonder how long it's going to take everyone to realize how simple the solutions really are.

Fundamentals.  Rudiments.  Whatever you want to call them.  Get 'em.  Grill 'em.  Know them backwards in your sleep.  When technology lets you down, or your single point failure decides to bite you, they can save your a$$.


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