From air to sea: Strathclyde-led group wins international safety award

The SEAHORSE consortium - the first of its type in the world - has received the prestigious Maritime Safety Award from the Royal Institution of Naval Architects, in association with Lloyd’s Register. It has brought together experts from the maritime world to research and implement safety considerations pioneered by the aviation industry.

Headed by Professor Osman Turan, of Strathclyde’s Department of Naval Architecture, Ocean and Marine Engineering, the consortium includes Scottish ferry operator Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) and world-leading classification society Lloyd’s Register - both long-term strategic partners of Strathclyde - among 13 leading academic, industrial and professional partners from nine European countries.

Straightforward systems

Inspired by the rigorous standards of the aviation industry and seeking to influence best practice in commercial shipping, the EU FP7 (7th Framework Programme) funded research project has sought to develop and establish straightforward systems to ensure best levels of safety in a range of areas, from safety culture, checklists and human factors training to standardised operating procedures.

Members of the consortium received the award at the Royal Institution of Naval Architects’ annual dinner in London. 

Professor Turan said: “SEAHORSE has shown that methods used to ensure high levels of safety for one form of transport can be effectively transferred to another.

“This breakthrough could lead to stronger co-operation between different modes of transport and the sharing of best practices across sectors in order to enhance safety.”

The concept of resilience – which acknowledges that things may go wrong but that systems should cope with such problems without compromising safety – has been a guiding principle in aeronautics. Through the SEAHORSE project, the principle has now been effectively applied to maritime transport. 

SEAHORSE captured, for the first time in the maritime sector, workarounds performed in on-board shipping operations instead of following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Strathclyde developed a novel online Procedure Improvement System which attracted a lot interest, not only from the maritime sector but also from the aviation sector. 

SEAHORSE project manager, Dr Rafet Emek Kurt, a lecturer in the Department of Naval Architecture, Ocean and Marine Engineering, said:  “The Procedure Improvement System is a step forward in managing and improving maritime SOPs, by involving all crew and shore staff in an innovative and practical framework”

A strong industrial advisory board, involved throughout the project, was also instrumental in the success of the SEAHORSE (Safety Enhancements in transport by Achieving Human Orientated Resilient Shipping Environment) project.  The project was supported by aviation experts and pilots from Airbus, Cyprus Airways, Loganair, Easyjet, Rolls-Royce and STASA, along with experts from shipping companies including Hellenic Tankers, SeaTec, MISC Berhad, AET tankers, Nomikos Shipping, Teekay, and GASLOG. Industry board members from other sectors, such as the Swedish Club marine mutual insurer and the Finnish Transport Safety Board, also contributed to the project.

The SEAHORSE Virtual Platform, a functioning prototype which contains all the methodologies and tools developed in the SEAHORSE Project, is available to the shipping sector freely as an online tool