Communication – at the heart of safety

ISSN 2369-873X

8 February 2016
Posted by Marc-André Poisson

A global maritime safety issue

Over the years, the Marine Accident Investigators' Forum (MAIIF) and the International Maritime Pilots' Association (IMPA) have observed some shortcomings in communications between bridge team members: maritime pilots, ship captains, watch officers, helmsmen and watchmen.

In light of these shared concerns, the IMPA and the MAIIF agreed to meet and discuss possible avenues for resolving them. Captain Simon Pelletier of the IMPA and the Canadian Marine Pilots' Association (CMPA) and I worked together to prepare a dialogue, which took place at the MAIIF's 2014 annual meeting in Panama.

International cooperation

It became clear, after a few hours of presentations and discussions, that the two international entities were on the same page. As such, with the goal of advancing safety, our message needed to be clarified, and we needed to find a way to communicate this message to the entire maritime community. This task was therefore entrusted to a working group of international experts, co-chaired by Simon and myself.

With the help of numerous stakeholders in North America and Great Britain, the IMPA and MAIIF produced a safety message, a poster, and a logo.

It would take too long to mention each contributor to these products; however, I must mention the significant contribution of the executive from the CMPA and the members of the American Marine Accident Investigators' Forum (AMAIF).

Since two entities needed to deliver one international message and obtain the consent of all their members, we took the opportunity of the AMAIF's annual meeting in Ottawa in April 2015 to validate the products. The group set the table so that IMPA and MAIIF members could endorse everything during their 2015 annual meetings.

Putting words into action: teamwork

Those of you who have had to work on similar issues and obtain the consent of a large number of stakeholders from all over the world can appreciate the scope of the task. For everyone else, I have summarized, in a couple of paragraphs, what surely took hundreds of hours, hundreds of emails, and dozens of phone calls to produce and deliver a shared message that we hope will contribute to the safety of maritime navigation in Canada and around the world. Let me reiterate the message on the poster: “Share navigation information. Respect each other. Communicate throughout the voyage. Work together. Stay alert.”

I would especially like to thank Captain Pelletier and the following Canadians who directly contributed to the success of this international initiative: Captains Bernard Boissonneault, Mike Burgess, Fred Denning, and Tristan Laflamme, Esq. of CMPA; Tony Gasbarro, Missy Rudin-Brown, and Rox-Anne D'Aoust of the TSB.


Bridge teamwork for safe navigation in pilotage waters

Image of Marc-André Poisson

Marc-André Poisson is Director of Marine Investigations. He holds several college and university diplomas obtained in Canada and Europe. He is a professional mariner with command-at-sea experience. He has written four novels during his pastimes.

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