The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (COLREGs) are a set of rules to be followed by navigation officers to avoid collisions at sea. It is one of the most important International Conventions that all seagoing Officers must possess full knowledge of, as well as having the skills needed to apply them correctly. However case law, as stated in the MARS and MAIB reports, indicates that many of the basic principles of the rules are improperly understood and applied such as it being common practice to use VHF Radio in collision avoidance procedures, although such radio communications are not part of the COLREGs (MAIB, 2004). A recent study undertaken by Acar et al (2011) showed that almost 50% of seafarers disregard/ignore the COLREGs at sea when they are taking action. This case law is further supported by several reports such as (IMO, 2005) that 80% of accidents at sea are caused by human error and Ziarati (2006) notes that mistakes are usually made not because of deficient or inadequate regulations, but because the regulations and standards that do exist are often ignored. The IMO MSC (Ziarati, 2006) clearly indicates that the causes of many of the accidents at sea are due to deficiencies in maritime education and training of seafarers or disregard for current standards and regulations. Collisions remain a major source of accidents at sea resulting in serious injuries and loss of life and property. The European Maritime Safety Agencies 2014 Maritime Accident Review found that between 2011-2013 in the category of 'accidents with a ship' Collisions were the second leading cause of accidents resulting in serious injuries (20% of accidents) and 15% of accidents deemed as a 'serious occurrence' were caused by collisions.
It is accepted that there will be no changes to the COLREGs regulations in the short-medium future, indeed the International Maritime Lecturers Association made its position supporting the COLREGs clear in its IMLA Newsletter Volume 1 June 2014). where it stated that the "IMO, has provided a clear text for COLREGs" and that as for "COLREG specific" accidents these can be attributed to "the unsatisfactory results of maritime training" or "seafarers not being able to use COLREG properly at sea". Therefore with both the regulator (IMO) and professional lecturers association (IMLA) supporting the current regulations it falls to the Maritime Education Providers to develop innovative approaches to better understand and teach COLREGs..
Seeing the severity of this issue initial research has been carried out by the partners to identify training needs, for COLREGs (www.marifuture.org/Reports/Development-Papers/ADP_11_2015_MARIFUTURE.pdf). As such the objectives of the ACTS+ project are to:
- To develop online learning materials to improve the knowledge, and ability, of cadets and seafarers to interpret and apply the COLREGs in complex multi-rule and multi-ship scenario's.
- To develop a teacher training programme and materials to improve the knowledge and ability of Maritime Teachers to interpret COLREGs and to teach to the correct applications.
- To develop an e-learning delivery platform.
- To involve shipping companies in the development of these learning materials so that real life situations faced by seafarers are addressed by the ACTS+ learning materials.
- To put together a submission document to the international policymaker (IMO), and international Maritime Associations to raise the need for additional teacher training on COLREGs and to gain recognition of the ACTS+ outputs.