Clay Maitland

On a quest for quality in shipping

How technology expands awareness

Posted on | October 30, 2012 | No Comments

I visited the headquarters of MAIB yesterday, the United Kingdom government’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch, located in Southampton.

The MAIB people are using advanced systems for recovery and analysis of a growing menu of electronic “black box” data, much of it carried aboard modern commercial and passenger ships.

The growing use of diverse electronic monitoring systems, ashore and afloat, is expanding “maritime domain awareness” to track the actions of people, processes and things.

Regulators can access a growing array of sophisticated on-board monitoring technology to tell us what actually happened (read: accidents).

Moreover, we are now acquiring the means to monitor what’s happening on board and under way, right now, in real time.

No more “magic pipes”?

It means that the investigation of casualties in the digital age is rapidly moving far beyond the sort of headscratching hypothesis, allegation and speculative fingerpointing, so beloved of maritime lawyers, that we associate with Titanic, Cosco Busan and Costa Concordia , to a world of much greater certainty based on factual data — of “what actually happened”, and how, and why.

It also heralds, some day very soon, the systematic monitoring, by flag, coastal and port states, of what IS happening.

For us safety management enthusiasts, this aspect of digital technology is a sign that constructive things do happen even in our hidebound and conservative world.

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