The application of AHP in the development of a taxonomy of merchant marine deck officers’ non-technical skills (NTS)

Farhan Saeed 1 , Alan Bury 2 , Stephen Bonsall 2 , and Ramin Riahi 3
  • 1 Higher Colleges of Technolgy, , United Arab Emirates
  • 2 Liverpool John Morres University,
  • 3 Columbia Ship Management, , Germany


The importance of NTS has been realised in many safety critical industries. Recently the maritime domain has also embraced the idea and implemented an NTS training course for both merchant marine deck and engineering officers. NTS encompass both interpersonal and cognitive skills such as situational awareness, teamwork, decision making, leadership, managerial skills, communication and language skills. Well-developed NTS training allow ship’s officers to recognise quickly when a problem is developing and manage the situation safely and efficiently with the available team members. As a result, the evaluation and grading of deck officers’ NTS is necessary to assure safety at sea, reduce the effects of human error on-board ships, and allow ship board operations to be performed safely. This paper identifies the skills necessary for deck officers to effectively perform their duties on the bridge of a ship. To achieve this, initially, a taxonomy of deck officers’ NTS is developed through a review of relevant literature and the conducting of semi-structured interviews with experienced seafarers. Subsequently, NTS weighting data is collected from experienced seafarers to allow the weight of each element of the taxonomy to be established by the use of the Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP).

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • [1] Fletcher, G., Flin, R and Mcgeorge, P. (2003a) “Review of human factors research in anaesthesia”, University of Aberdeen SCPMDE Project: RDNES/991/C.

  • [2] Chauvin, C., Lardjane, S., Morel, G., Clostermann, J. P. and Langard, B. (2013) Human and organisational factors in maritime accidents: Analysis of collision at sea using the HFACS. Accidents Analysis and Prevention, 59 (2013) pp. 26-37.

  • [3] Kirwan, B. and Ainsworth, L.K. (1992) A Guide to Task Analysis. Taylor and Francis, London.

  • [4] Crandall, B., Klein, G. and Hoffman, R.R. (2006) Working Minds – A Practitioner’s guide to Cognitive Task Analysis. A Bradford Book, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England.

  • [5] Seamster, T.L., Redding, R.E. and Kaempf, G.L. (1997) Applied Cognitive Task Analysis in Aviation. Ashgate Publishing Limited.

  • [6] Stone, A. A., Bachrach, C. A., Jobe, J. B., Kurtzman, H. S. and Cain, V. S. (1999) The Science of Self-reports: Implications for research and Practice. Taylor and Francis, London.

  • [7] Endsley, M. R. (1988) Situation Awareness Global Assessment Technique (SAGAT). Proceedings for the National Aerospace and Electronics Conference – NAECON 1988, Dayton, USA, pp. 789-795.

  • [8] Fletcher, G., Flin, R and Mcgeorge, P. (2003b) Interview study to identify anaesthetists’ non-technical skills. University of Aberdeen SCPMDE Project: RDNES/991/C.

  • [9] West, M. (2012) Effective Teamwork, Practical lessons from organizational research. BPS Blackwell.

  • [10] Cohen, S. G. and Baily, D. E. (1997) What makes teams work? Group effectiveness research from the shop floor to the executive suite. Journal of Management, 23, pp. 239-90.

  • [11] CAA (2003) Aviation Maintenance Human Factors (EASA/JAR145 Approved Organisations. Sussex: CAA Safety Regulation Group, CAP 716, 18th December 2003.

  • [12] Stanton, N. (1996) Human factors in nuclear safety. London: Taylor and Francis.

  • [13] Beer, M. (1980) Organizational change and development: A system review. Glenview, IL: Scott, Fotesman.

  • [14] Flin, R., Martin, L., Geosters, K., Hoermann, J., Amalberti, R., Valot, C., and Nijhuis, H. (2003) Development of the NOTECHS (Non-Technical Skills) system for assessing pilots’ CRM skills. Human Factors and Aerospace Safety, 3 (2), pp. 95-117.

  • [15] Drach-Zahavy, A. (2004) Exploring team support: the role of team’s design, values, and leader’s support. Group dynamics: Theory, research and practice, 8 (4), pp. 235-252.

  • [16] Lepine, J.A. and Van Dyne, L. (2001) Peer responses to low performers: An attributional model of helping in the context of groups. Academy of Management Review, 26, pp. 67-84

  • [17] Yusof, A. A. (2003) Gelagat organisasi: Teori, isu dan aplikasi. (1st ed.) Kuala Lumpur, Cited in Sulaiman, W., Mahbob, M. and Hassan, B. (2012) An analysis on the effectiveness of Team Building: The impact on Human Resources. Asian Social Sciences, 8 (5), pp. 29-36.

  • [18] Blundel, R. (2004) Effective organisational communication: Perspectives, principles and practices. Second Edition. Harlow: FT Prentice Hall.

  • [19] Clarke, M. A., Amundsen, S.D. and Cardy, R. L. (2002) Cross-functional team decision-making and learning outcomes: A qualitative illustration. Journal of Business and management, 8(3), pp. 217-236.

  • [20] Van Offenbeek, M. (2001) Processes and outcomes of team learning. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 10, pp. 303-317.

  • [21] Woerkom, M. and Sanders (2009) The romance of learning from disagreement. The effect of cohesiveness and disagreement on knowledge sharing behaviour and individual performance within teams. Journal of Bus Psychology, 25, pp. 139-149.

  • [22] Flin, R., O’connor, P. and Crichton, M. (2008) Safety at the sharp end. Ashgate Publishing Limited.

  • [23] Brown, S., Mcdonagh, P. and Schultz Ii, C. J. (2013) Titanic: Consuming the Myths and Meanings of an Ambiguous Brand. Journal of consumer research, Inc., 40, pp. 595-614.

  • [24] Lieto, A. D. (2014) Costa Concordia Anatomy of an organisational accident [online] Avialable at [Accessed 25th March 2014]

  • [25] MAIB (2005a) Report on the investigation of passenger vessel Balmoral. Marine Accident Investigation Branch, report number 14/2005.

  • [26] MAIB (2009a), Grounding of container vessel Cosco Hongkong [online], Marine Accident Investigation Branch, Available at, [Accessed on 10/01/14]

  • [27] Fasano, A. and Kirschenman (2012) Behind Every Successful Leader Lies a Great Delegator. Leadership and Management in Engineering, pp. 341-343.

  • [28] Endsley, M. R. (1995) Towards a theory of situation awareness in dynamic systems. Human Factors, 1995, 37(1), pp. 32-64.

  • [29] Salmon, P. M., Stanton, N. A., Walker, G. H. and Jenkins, D. P. (2009) Distributed situation awareness, theory, measurement and application to teamwork. Ashgate Publishing Limited.

  • [30] Hetherington, C., Flin, R. and Mearns, K. (2006) Safety in shipping: the human element. Journal of safety research, 37, pp. 401-411.

  • [31] MAIB (2011) Collision between MV Boxford and FV Admiral Blake 29nm south of Start Point, English Channel. Marine Accident Investigation Branch, report number 17/2011.

  • [32] NTSB (1995) “Grounding of the Panamanian passenger ship Royal Majesty on Rose and Crown shoal near Nantucket, Massachusetts”. National Transport Safety Board Accident report, Washington, DC 20594.

  • [33] MAIB (2009b) Report on the investigations of heavy weather damage of board the container ship Maersk Newport. Marine Accident Investigation Branch, report number 13/2009.

  • [34] MAIB (2005b) Report on investigation of the collision between Hyundai Dominion and Sky Hope.Marine Accident Investigation Branch, report number 17/2005.

  • [35] MAIB (2007) Report on the investigation of the close-quarters situation between Maersk Dover and Apollonia. Marine Accident Investigation Branch, report number 9/2007.

  • [36] Adelman, L., Gualtieri, J. and Stanford, S. (1995) Examining the effect of casual focus on the option generation process: An experiment using protocol analysis. Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Process, 61 (1), pp. 54-66.

  • [37] Riahi, R., Bonsall, S., Jenkinson, I. and Wang, J. (2012) A Seafarer’s reliability assessment incorporating subjective judgements. Journal of Engineering for the maritime environment, 226 (4), pp. 313-334.

  • [38] Saaty T. L. (1990) How to make decisions: The Analytic Hierarchy Process. European Journal of operational Research, 48 (1): pp. 9-26.

  • [39] Aull-Hyde, R., Erdogan, S. and Duke, J. D. (2006) An experiment on the consistency of aggregated comparison matrices in AHP. European journal of operational research, 171, pp. 290-295.


Journal + Issues