The importance of inspections for ship safety and efficiency

Effective inspection procedures and surveys are crucial in helping The Bahamas Maritime Authority maintain technical equipment on its ships’ navigational bridges

The importance of inspections for ship safety and efficiency
Ship inspections often begin with the navigational equipment on the bridge

The Bahamas Maritime Authority (BMA) runs regular and effective inspections and surveys, ensuring that ships registered in The Bahamas are operated and managed efficiently and safely. Some of these inspections cover navigation and communication systems, equipment and technology where the passenger ship sector has been at the forefront of technical innovation. 

Ship inspections often begin with the navigational equipment on the bridge. Generally, our BMA inspector will ask a crew member on the bridge to operate the relevant equipment as they check it to demonstrate the crew’s familiarity with the systems and the depth of their knowledge.  

Inspectors also look for evidence of berth-to-berth passage planning, with a focus on up-to-date charts and publications, and evidence of sharing navigational warnings and briefings with the bridge teams.  

Of course, every ship has equipment failures, but thorough pre-departure and arrival checks help to mitigate the risk of such events. Checklists used during watch handovers can highlight emerging negative performance trends before they become serious problems. Equipment operators should also bear in mind that Global Maritime Distress and Safety System equipment tests are not just a paper exercise, they will need to use the emergency power source to transmit and receive test calls. In fact, we believe that younger navigators can learn a lot from radio surveyors, as they overcome local propagation problems with medium frequency stations.   

Looking to the future of the bridge resource management and integrated navigation systems, there are a number of exciting new advances, such as handheld tablets for pilotage with wi-fi GPS from pilot plugs. Many pilots are now using these and some are able to lock a ship’s shape from the signal source and update with the most recent surveys. Bridge teams can keep up with the planned progress through traditional cross references such as radar parallel indexing. Safety and efficiency are always high on our priority list and so we are constantly looking out for new technology in those areas. 

Frank McNulty is the technical and compliance officer in the inspections and surveys department at The Bahamas Maritime Authority 

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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By Frank McNulty
11 May 2021

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