MPX - A Highway to Human Error or a Stronghold Against System Variability?

University essay from Lunds universitet/Avdelningen för Riskhantering och Samhällssäkerhet

Abstract: The cooperation between the bridge team members onboard merchant vessel has been given considerable attention since the mid 90´s when the focus on non-technical skills (NTS) was adopted from the aviation industry. In the maritime industry NTS training is called Bridge Resource Management (BRM) training and was introduced to avoid single person errors resulting in accidents. Initially the focus on BRM was concentrated on the ship crews learning to function as a team, later also maritime pilots had to participate in BRM training. The training of the pilots is concentrated on the cooperation with the master and the crew of the vessel under pilotage. This cooperation is called the Master Pilot Exchange (MPX) named after the initial exchange of information between master and pilot when the pilot has boarded the vessel. Despite years of training and attention several studies and conclusions in accident reports indicate that the cooperation between pilot and ship crew is not always adequate. In this qualitative study inspired by narrative research and storytelling we would like to explore how the cooperation between pilot and master/crew is established. We interviewed 6 masters and 7 pilots and asked them to tell their stories concerning the cooperation in order to shed light on issues supporting and constraining the teamwork. Regarding the MPX as a Joint Activity (G. Klein, Feltovich, Bradshaw, & Woods, 2005) we will describe how the cooperation between pilot and bridge crew is established and maintained. Furthermore, we will examine how the cognitive workload of the bridge team is increased when adding a stranger, the pilot, to the team. We found that there is a fundamental wish to do a good job. Both masters and pilots want the operation to be a success and they usually have an understanding that they can benefit from each other when they work as a team. The adaptive capacity of the masters and pilots, their wish to cooperate, their mutual understanding of the common ground and their way of communication, was found as contributing factors making the joint activity a success. We also found that language problems, national differences, and high cognitive workload could be constraining factors for the master and pilot during their cooperation.

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