Ocean Princess under way before the casualty (left); SP-83A before the casualty (right). (Sources: ©Malcom Cotte MarineTraffic.c

​Ocean Princess under way before the casualty (left); SP-83A before the casualty (right). (Sources: ©Malcom Cotte MarineTraffic.com; Arena Offshore)​

Contact of Bulk Carrier Ocean Princess with Oil and Gas Production Platform SP-83A

What Happened

​​​​On January 7, 2021, at 0122 local time, the bulk carrier Ocean Princess, with a crew of 24, struck the uncrewed/out-of-service oil and gas production platform SP-83A while operating in the Gulf of Mexico, 24 miles south of Pilottown, Louisiana.1 No pollution or injuries were reported. Damage to the vessel and platform was estimated at $1.5 million.

What We Found

​We determined that the probable cause of the contact of the dry bulk carrier Ocean Princess with the oil and gas production platform SP-83A was poor bridge resource management, which resulted in the bridge team not identifying the platform and recognizing the risk it posed to their safe navigation even though they saw its lights about 10 minutes before the casualty. Contributing was platform SP-83A not being shown on the vessel’s electronic chart display and information system due to a charting error.​​

Lessons Learned

​​Overreliance on the Electronic Chart Display and Information System

The effective use of all available resources by a bridge team, including paper charts, electronic charts, and radars, increases collective situational awareness and contributes to a safe navigation watch. When identifying hazards, bridge teams should avoid overreliance on a single data source by cross-checking information with available bridge resources and communicating identified risks with fellow watchstanders to ensure a shared mental model.

Increasing operator vigilance and combatting overreliance requires healthy skepticism about situations and information sources regardless of how accurate they could be, or how confident one is in their own assessment.4 In this casualty, the electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) was missing the oil platform struck by the vessel due to a charting error. The vessel’s safety management system noted, “ECDIS is a valuable asset in assisting navigators and allowing them more time to maintain a proper lookout by providing them with more detailed situational awareness.” However, it also warned, “navigators should always cross check ECDIS information with the other sources," and, if not used properly, “ECDIS may contribute to accidents rather than preventing them.” The inability to recognize the fallibility of technology, such as an ECDIS, can result in operator overreliance and overconfidence that degrades sound navigation practices and negatively affects situational awareness.​​​​