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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation M-17-016
Details
Synopsis: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is providing the following information to urge the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Weather Service (NWS; a component of NOAA), and the US Coast Guard to take action on the safety recommendations in this report. The recommendations address, in the interest of mariner safety, the development of tropical cyclone information and its availability to mariners. The recommendations derive primarily from factual information gathered during the NTSB’s ongoing investigation into the sinking of cargo vessel El Faro on October 1, 2015. The factual data revealed that critical tropical cyclone information issued by the NWS is not always available to mariners via well-established broadcast methods. The data also suggest that modifying the way the NWS develops certain tropical cyclone forecasts and advisories could help mariners at sea better understand and respond to tropical cyclones. Further, factual data on the official forecasts for Hurricane Joaquin and other recent tropical cyclones suggest that a new emphasis on improving hurricane forecasts is warranted. The NTSB has yet to determine the probable cause of, or contributing factors in, El Faro’s sinking. Nevertheless, based on the meteorological facts gathered thus far, plus discussions with the NWS and the Coast Guard, the NTSB makes ten recommendations in this report. Two recommendations are addressed to NOAA, seven to the NWS, and one to the Coast Guard.
Recommendation: TO THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: Develop and implement a plan for soliciting feedback from the marine user community, particularly ship masters, about the accuracy, timeliness, and usability of weather services to mariners.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Open - Acceptable Response
Mode: Marine
Location: 36 NM Northeast Crooked Island Bahamas, AO, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA16MM001
Accident Reports: Tropical Cyclone Information for Mariners Sinking of US Cargo Vessel SS El Faro Atlantic Ocean, Northeast of Acklins and Crooked Island, BahamasSinking of the US Cargo Vessel El Faro: Illustrated Digest
Report #: MSR-17-02
Accident Date: 10/1/2015
Issue Date: 6/29/2017
Date Closed:
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service (Open - Acceptable Response)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service
Date: 4/22/2019
Response: We are encouraged that the NWS has provided several outreach events at which mariners could provide feedback about the accuracy, timeliness, and usability of weather services. We note that the NWS plans to explore additional methods for soliciting feedback. Pending updates on this effort and completion of the recommended action, Safety Recommendation M-17-16 remains classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service
To: NTSB
Date: 7/15/2018
Response: -From Andrew Stern, Director, Analyze, Forecast, and Support Office, NOAA/ National Weather Service: I would like to bring to your attention increased support that NWS is providing to the U.S. Coast Guard with respect to improving dissemination of hazards in the oceanic domain. Starting last week, the NWS Ocean Prediction Center, in coordination with the National Hurricane Center and the NWS National Operations Center began providing weekly PPT briefings to USCG District 5. Note in the attached Memo from OPC to the NWS Chief Operating Officer that the actions fully support safety recommendations from the NTSB El Faro report. The second attached file, called "Briefing Slides.pdf", contains briefing slides from last week. The first two slides were presented to the USCG on July 9 and highlighted hazards associated with cyclones Chris and Beryl. The 3rd and 4th slides show updates to NWS leadership regarding oceanic impacts from Hurricane Chris. Slide 3 shows AIS data and ship avoidance maneuvers in advance of Chris - leaving a mostly ship free northeastward slot. Slide 4 shows a tanker who appeared to move close to or through the eye wall. OPC later reported that the tanker turned northwest and headed toward the NY Bight once the storm had passed. The NWS continues to improve decision support services with our core partners in support of transportation safety. Thought that you would be interested.

From: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service
To: NTSB
Date: 6/22/2018
Response: -From Andrew D. Stern, Director, National Weather Service, Analyze, Forecast and Support Office: In progress. The NHC, the OPC, the NWS Marine Service Program and other NWS forecast offices with marine responsibility conduct an enormous program of outreach to the marine community. An extensive list (not comprehensive) of recent events, attached, includes major, high-visibility events intended to obtain user feedback. Some direct interactions with ship personnel are discussed below: • Port Meteorological Officers (PMO) (13 regional reps nationwide) - Direct interaction with ship personnel to train, supply with materials and solicit feedback on NWS products and services. • Voluntary Marine ObservationsNolunteer Observing Ship (VOS) - Vessel participation in the NWS weather observation at sea program. Vessels are met by PMOs as they come to U.S. ports. • Ship Operations Cooperative Program (SOCP) Annual Conference - SOCP is made up of maritime industry personnel as well as government agencies, including the NWS. • SOCP Extreme Weather (Technology and Equipment/Best Practices and Training) Subcommittee - NWS participates on this sub-committee to directly interact with maritime personnel on weather issues. • NWS Public Information Statements (PNS) - For any new or changing product/service, the NWS issues a PNS to solicit direct public feedback. Through the SOCP Extreme Weather Subcommittee, the NWS is soliciting key points of contact in the maritime community to assure better communication. • Two recent public surveys and webinars soliciting feedback from the maritime community on marine Hazard Simplification (example - consolidation of small craft advisories). • NHC Annual Mariner's Workshop - Collaboration with marine industry directly on weather products. • WFO Impact-Based Decision Support Services (IDSS) - Direct weather briefings with mariners and the U.S. Coast Guard for weather driven or large public events. The NWS agrees with the NTSB that recurrent feedback may be most effective by leveraging organizations with broad reach in the marine community, such as the SOCP. PMOs also are a source of recurring feedback. In addition, we are assessing options for a more active survey of marine users regarding the priority and use of existing marine products. Updates will be provided to NTSB.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service
Date: 2/20/2018
Response: In issuing this recommendation, we said that we discussed the problem of soliciting feedback from marine users with the NWS and the Coast Guard. We were not aware of any broad surveys since 2007 aimed at soliciting responses from the marine user community about NWS capabilities and services. Discussions with NWS staff identified a desire for new feedback on mariner decision-making with regard to NWS weather information. In our report, Tropical Cyclone Information for Mariners, we identified specific needs expressed by NWS staff for feedback from the marine user community, including (1) understanding what weather information mariners use in their decision-making, (2) when that information is used, and (3) whether certain NWS products are useful, as well as (4) the need to develop opportunities to hear directly from ship masters. We note that you believe that NWS forecast offices with marine responsibility conduct outreach to the marine community, and Mr. Stern’s letter described seven specific recent initiatives based on mariner feedback. When we meet to review our El Faro investigative report, we would like to review your outreach program, of which we were not previously aware, and how it addresses the four specific items discussed above. Pending that information and our determination that existing programs address this recommendation or need to be improved, Safety Recommendation M-17-16 is classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service
To: NTSB
Date: 11/30/2017
Response: -From Andrew D. Stern, Director, Analyze, Forecast, and Support Office, National Weather Service: Develop and implement a plan for soliciting feedback from the marine user community, particularly ship masters, about the accuracy, timeliness, and usability of weather services to mariners. NWS Input: The NHC, the NWS Ocean Prediction Center (OPC) and other NWS forecast offices with marine responsibility conduct an enormous program of outreach to the marine community. An extensive list of recent events can be provided, and includes major, high-visibility events intended to obtain user feedback. It is requested that any recommendation recognize this work already underway. The NWS would like to offer for consideration some potential additional enhancements for mariners, based on its interactions with them: • Develop digital graphics to accompany vital text information currently communicated in the HSF product. The digital graphics would fall out of the National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD). Text in the HSF would be formatted from the digital graphics, ensuring consistency between graphics and text. The digital graphics could be communicated to mariners and onshore fleet management offices via private marine software, the web, Twitter, the NWS Watch/Warning/Advisory (WWA) map, etc. The digital graphic overlays could possibly be included in ECDIS displays as well. • Enable users to download sub-sectors of the NDFD grids for all weather elements currently published, which include the TCM wind radii, wind gust, hazards, and initial radius of 12-foot seas. • Provide access to all marine graphics in high-resolution and low-bandwidth formats. • Prepare loops of all gridded data in a low-bandwidth format with interactive ability for marine customers to select all available elements of the published grids. • Explore and implement an updated format for the HSF suitable for the international marine community using established metrics, such as the Beaufort Wind Scale and Douglas Sea Height Scale. • Publish primary and secondary swell and wave period grids and weather grids. • Coordinate with other NOAA line offices to disseminate their grids of sea surface temperature, ocean current and algal blooms. This effort could be similar to the e-mail request service to the very popular Saildocs Grib Service program that mariners have been using for many years to retrieve meteorological models. This access must allow a drag and drop latitude/longitude selection method as well as including a vessel course option.

From: NTSB
To: United States Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service
Date: 6/29/2017
Response: On June 20, 2017, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) adopted its safety recommendation report Tropical Cyclone Information for Mariners, related to the October 1, 2015, sinking of cargo vessel El Faro. Additional information about this accident and the resulting recommendations may be found in the safety recommendation report, which can be accessed at our website, www.ntsb.gov, under report number NTSB/MSR-17/02. As a result of this investigation, we issued two recommendations to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, one recommendation to the US Coast Guard, and the following seven recommendations to the National Weather Service.