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Mind the Gap!: A quantitative comparison between ship-to-ship communication and intended communication protocol
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Technology, Kalmar Maritime Academy.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1223-1311
2020 (English)In: Safety Science, ISSN 0925-7535, E-ISSN 1879-1042, Vol. 123, p. 1-8, article id 104567Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Icebreaker operations, when an icebreaker assists other vessels through ice-packed fairways, are hazardous due to harsh environmental conditions and complexity of procedures. The severity of operations is further aggravated by the necessity for maintaining a small distance between the vessels, which consequently increases the risk of collision. Even though miscommunication is widely identified as a contributing factor to shipping accidents, previous research within winter navigation has focused largely on technical aspects of icebreaker operations to increase the operational safety. This study aimed to investigate to what extent closed-loop communication is used during icebreaker operations, and whether this practice deviates from stipulated communication protocols. A quantitative analysis was performed, coding 40 days of verbal radio communication. Subsequently, the data was compared to the stipulated communication protocol outlined in the Standard Marine Communication Phrases. The results show that closed-loop communication is not utilized to its full extent. Some message types are completely repeated at a higher rate, mainly instruction and question, while other message types, such as information and intention often receive a yes-no answer. A full closed-loop, i.e. a completely repeated message followed by a confirmation, was only observed in 16.4% of the messages initiated by an icebreaker and 14.0% for the assisted vessels. Thus, this study clearly shows that there is a gap between actual language use and stipulated communication protocol. Finally, since misunderstandings during icebreaker operations can have serious consequences, more research is needed into the underlying reasons for miscommunication in situations with little room for error.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2020. Vol. 123, p. 1-8, article id 104567
Keywords [en]
Communication, Icebreaking, Misunderstanding, Safety, Standard Marine Communication Phrases (SMCP)
National Category
Transport Systems and Logistics Communication Studies
Research subject
Shipping, Maritime Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-90559DOI: 10.1016/j.ssci.2019.104567ISI: 000509615500023Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85076254401OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-90559DiVA, id: diva2:1378543
Available from: 2019-12-13 Created: 2019-12-13 Last updated: 2021-05-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Creating clarity and managing complexity through co-operation and communication: The case of Swedish icebreaker operations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Creating clarity and managing complexity through co-operation and communication: The case of Swedish icebreaker operations
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Sea transportation is vital for the global economy, and the amount of seaborne trade is expected to increase in the future. In some areas, icebreakers are necessary for maintaining open shipping lanes all-year round and ensuring safe navigation. Vessels operating in ice are exposed to harsh environmental factors such as severe weather and heavy ice, and when external forces become too strong vessels will depend on icebreaker assistance. However, successful icebreaker operations require the icebreaker to operate in close vicinity to the assisted vessel to break the ice, which in turn increases the risk of collision.

There are many factors which make icebreaker operations complex. The aim of this thesis is to use work organization, operational safety, and interpersonal communication as three lenses to describe and analyse the complexity of icebreaker operations, and its implications for practice. To thoroughly investigate this complexity, data are drawn from numerous sources; semi-structured interviews, a questionnaire, and a substantial amount of recorded authentic communication all provide complementary insights.

The results show that the icebreaker performs a multitude of tasks directly concerned with icebreaking, e.g. directing and physically assisting other vessels, but that these tasks indirectly rely on interpersonal interaction and communication. A number of conflicting constraints add to the complexity. For example, harsh winter conditions impede vessels’ independent navigation in ice, while offering icebreaker crews opportunities to practice and maintain important skills. Furthermore, it was shown that language skills and communication play an important role in upholding the operational safety. However, closed-loop communication is not always used as intended, a deviation from intended communication protocol with potential to increase the risk of misunderstandings.

This thesis suggests that safety and efficiency of winter navigation can be enhanced by making better use of existing technology and data; by examining the past track of other vessels, e.g. via AIS, finding suitable ice tracks will be made easier. Another implication concerning communication is that training institutes should emphasize the logic behind standardized communication protocols rather than focusing on standard phrases, i.e. facilitating means for advanced English speakers to adapt their communication style. That way, novice and advanced speakers could find common ground.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Växjö: Linnaeus University Press, 2020. p. 69
Series
Linnaeus University Dissertations ; 385/2020
Keywords
maritime safety, organization, human factors, closed-loop communication, Standard Marine Communication Phrases, misunderstanding, other-initiated repair
National Category
Transport Systems and Logistics
Research subject
Shipping, Maritime Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-95299 (URN)978-91-89081-63-5 (ISBN)978-91-89081-64-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2020-08-27, Ma135, Kalmar, 09:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-06-01 Created: 2020-06-01 Last updated: 2024-02-22Bibliographically approved

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