Frank Coles, the new boss at bridge and navigation systems specialist Transas, has called for a radical rethink on the role of the master in today’s shipping environment.
Speaking to more than 300 people at an event organised by his company in Singapore, Coles said: “The interaction between ship and shore has to change,” Coles urged. “The responsibility management needs to be adjusted.”
Captains today are essentially chief executives, Coles said, but minus the management team to share the load of the business plan.
“The traditional hierarchy and ship roles are outdated,” Coles said. “There is simply too much regulation, data, responsibility, tasks for it to be practicable,” he added.
“The level of burden upon the ship officer is at an all time high,” Coles reckoned, “yet,” he continued, “nothing has truly changed in terms of the alleviation of the burden, or the level of responsibility or the style of management.”
Along with all the growing regulation there is the advent of technological big data, something that Coles suggested is creating “an overload on the single point of failure, the master”.
“Accountability should really follow empowerment and a change in attitude to responsibility is maybe overdue,” the UK national said.
Coles took up the reins at Transas four months ago. Previous work including heading up sat comms giant Inmarsat Maritime. His maritime career stretches back 39 years when he started out as a seafarer.
To make changes, laws will need to be amended and mindsets refocused, Coles said.
“If we are to have a successful transition to the new reality, we should consider how to train the new team, the fleet resource team, and empower the master but also provide training on working together,” he said.
“Attitudes need to change, and the legal liability needs to more fittingly adjust to the operational reality. The law should not control the management of the ship, but fit with the everyday practice in operations,” he added.
Day to day fleet resource training should replace some of the bridge resource training, Coles suggested while more administrative tasks should be done ashore.
During his keynote speech, Coles introduced THESIS, the Transas Harmonised Eco System of Integrated Solutions, which he described as “a flexible data resource, a scaleable platform”.