The Swedish Club Academy focuses on China during a five-day Maritime Resource Management road show at the end of March.
MRM training aims at establishing safe operational cultures where teamwork and effective communication are key components, even to the extent of encouraging crew members to ‘challenge’ decisions made by their masters and superiors.
“People with high rank can make mistakes too, and when they do the team members who detect it must be assertive enough to voice their concerns,” says Martin Hernqvist, Managing Director of The Swedish Club Academy. “We consider the lack of challenges in such situations to be one of the most significant contributing factors in maritime accidents. A key component of safe teamwork and good decision-making is that everyone in a team feels free to question decisions and actions made by other team members, including people with higher rank.”
Questioning decisions made by superiors and pilots is particularly difficult for people from high power-distance societies. In such societies, people generally show great respect towards authorities, elderly people, and people with high rank. Many high power-distance societies are found in Asia, and therefore China is one of the countries where MRM training is especially important.
Mr. Hernqvist cites the 2007 collision of Cosco Busan with the San Francisco Bay Bridge as an example of an accident in which the lack of assertiveness and challenges played a role. The Cosco Busan had a Chinese bridge team and the pilot was American. “Respectfulness towards others is an appreciated characteristic, however if this silences people when mistakes or poor decisions are being made on board a ship, then we have a big problem,” says Mr Hernqvist.
The Philippines and China are two high power-distance societies that also are major suppliers of seafarers. Of the 35 countries with TSCA-licensed training providers, the highest number of providers is found in the Philippines. Thus the Academy now turns its eyes to China because, as Mr Hernqvist says, “China presents a more significant language barrier than the Philippines, and so a somewhat different strategy is necessary in China to get the training message across.”
The strategy is to complement English language training material with a Chinese translation, and to increase examples of cases studies involving Chinese crews and companies, which will both illustrate that the problem is real and show that there is an effective countermeasure.
The MRM road show will commence in Hong Kong on March 25th with seminars the following days in Xiamen, Shanghai, and Qingdao, and will conclude in Tianjin on March 29th.