Communication Failures the Main Cause of Shipping Vessels Running Aground


In just about every industry, communication failures can make or break a business. The massive market of cargo transportation is no exception.

In 2013, the general cargo vessel Claude A Desgagnes ran aground in the St. Lawrence Seaway. How could such a thing happen? Two professionals at the ship's controls, the pilot and the captain, couldn’t agree about how to slow the ship as it approached a lock. The pilot wanted to lower the anchor to slow the ship, while the captain, recently returned to the bridge, insisted they reverse the engines.

Either idea would have worked fine, but instead of choosing one approach, the two men stood bickering as the ship continued forward toward an approach wall. Distracted by their argument, the two men in command of the Claude A Desgagnes didn’t notice they were in trouble until it was too late.

The ship struck the approach wall and veered across the channel until it ran aground. As a result of their communication failures, the ship suffered minor damages and the St. Lawrence Seaway was closed for 15 hours.

The miscommunication on the Claude A Desgagnes isn't an isolated incident. In fact, in 1995, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) issued a report about problems with bridge communications between pilots and captains.

The TSB has repeatedly warned about the importance of developing a common understanding among the bridge crew about each individual’s responsibilities so accidents don’t result over communication failures like this.

The TSB now recommends that bridge crew members update information and intentions with each other as the voyage progresses to ensure everyone is in agreement by the time they reach an important decision-making moment.

Do you see how this can spill over into virtually every other industry? The same clear approach must occur in your business to avoid detrimental communication failures. And if successful communication can be this difficult face-to-face, think about how much harder it is to communicate effectively in writing .

For more information about training your employees to communicate effectively, please contact Hurley Write, Inc . Our writing classes provide the training your staff needs to limit communication failures.

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