Deck Officer Training and Technology: Developing a Critical Approach

Deck Officer Training and Technology: Developing a Critical Approach

Understanding the Challenge


A ship has traditionally been structured in a hierarchical fashion. The Captain being the person responsible for ensuring the ship, the crew and the cargo reach its destination safely.

The Captain  enjoyed a great degree of autonomy in the way they organised and operated their vessel, with limited communication once away from the coast, they were solely responsible for making decisions.

Communication satellites, navigational system satellites and the internet of things has means that the position of the ship and its systems can be monitored from a shore based location 24 hours a day.

Decisions are made in an office based on the data feedback from shipboard sensors and the Captain is advised as to the optimum route and speed the vessel should take.

The video below, produced by the technology and engineering firm Wartsilla shows the evolution of the seafarer.

Our marine solutions connect the dots, now and in the future | Wärtsilä


The purpose of this OER is to encourage and develop a critical approach to how we, as education professionals, view the relationship between the  Officer of the Watch (OOW) and technology with a view to try and identify approaches or strategies we can use to enhance our teaching practice.

The Officer of the Watch is a key role in the safe navigation of a ship. They are responsible for monitoring the planned passage of the vessel and ensuring that the ship does not pose a risk of collision to other vessels or to the marine environment.

First though, let us be clear about what we mean by the term critical thinking and how we can develop this skill.

Activity: Watch the video below for an overview on what we mean by taking a critical approach.

1.1. CT - Essential Concepts for Critical Thinking

Source: Open Education Edinburgh

The Human - Computer Interface

Throughout this course we will look at theories and concepts from within and outwith the maritime context to develop our thinking on this topic.

How do you view the role of technology on the bridge of the ship?

Which of these statements do you agree with and why?

  1. Technology on the bridge of a ship supports the decision-making of the OOW
  2. Technology on the bridge of the ship influences the decision-making of the OOW

It's important we consider these statements as our answer will influence our teaching strtategies and approaches as maritime educational professionals. 


Read the paper below which highlights the role of technology in the distribution of cognitive load between the human the computer.

Click here to access the paper.

Which of the modes of cognitive distribution  (Dror & Mnookin, 2010 page 48)best describes the relationship between the OOW and technology on the bridge of a ship?

Post your comments on the padlet page link here.

In the next section we will look at the role of technology in our day-to-day tasks.


Dror, I. E. & Mnookin, J. L., 2010. The use of technology in human expert domains:challenges and risks arising from the use of automated fingerprint identification systems in forensic science. Law, Probability and Risk, Volume 9, pp. 47-67.

Eliopoulou, E., Papanikolaou, A. & Voulgarellis, M., 2016. Statistical analysis of ship accidents and review of safety level. Safety Science, Volume 85, pp. 282-292.


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