# An analysis of practices of monitoring the accuracy and reliability of compasses on modern merchant ships

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3 Evgeny Lushnikov, Krzysztof Pleskacz accuracy of speed estimates, which depends on the accuracy of information about the speed of the ship, drift, and leeway; maneuvering, or inertial errors; errors due to ship motion; technical errors in settings, and the translation of the course to repeaters. By contrast, errors affecting magnetic compass readings are determined by: calculation of the variation error; deviation error; deviation instability error, separate for coefficients B and C; insensitivity zone error (dry friction); error due to motion; technical errors in course translation. Systematic errors can be compensated for, but not completely excluded. By definition, however, it is not possible to compensate for random errors (Lushnikov, 004). The mean error, m, of the difference in true course between a magnetic compass and gyrocompass can be calculated from the following formula: M V D G GE m m m m m m (1) m M mean error of the magnetic compass; m V mean error of the variation; m D mean error of the deviation; m G mean error of the gyrocompass; m GE mean error of the gyrocompass correction. Inspection of the equation shows that logbooks must contain a difference between the true courses as given by the gyrocompass and the magnetic compass. For modern compasses, the mean value of the difference of true courses equals approximately ±.4 (Lushnikov, 01). It follows that the discrepancy of courses in every second observation should be a minimum of ±1.5. In every third observation, that difference should not exceed ±.5, and for every fourth observation, ±3 or more, and so on. These are values that a careful observer will not overlook. Statistical analysis of compass monitoring on global fleets Copies of the logbooks were delivered by captains of ships calling at Szczecin in the years The captains of 37 ships consented to the processing and publication of the data contained in their logbooks for this period. An analysis of the entries showed that six of the 37 ships (16.%) had recorded no data at all relating to compass monitoring. This constitutes a blatant violation of international rules and good sea practices. Excluding single entries in logbooks that were badly edited or badly kept, a total of,193 entries were examined (Pleskacz, 014). A single entry was defined as a record referring to one specific time of observation (i.e., a one-line entry in the logbook). Statistical processing of data from the logbooks led to surprising results (see Table 1). Specifically, it was found that 100% of the true courses obtained from a gyrocompass and a magnetic compass as recorded in the logbooks were exactly the same. Table 1. Comparison of true courses obtained from observations of a magnetic compass (TC M) and gyrocompass (TC G) No. Ship s name Number C = TC M TC G of observations ( ) 1 Fast Sam 60 0 Celine Kapitan Zhikharev OW Scandinavia Transwing Zillertal Steinau Lady Elena Gas Evoluzione Walka Młodych Flottbek Transmar Hans Lehmann Karina G Clare Christine Pitztal Crystal Topaz Taganrogskiy Zaliv Ametyst Finland Fjordstraum Flinterhaven SV.Knyaz Vladimir Fast Sam Ostanhav Gas Arctic Frisian Ocean Leonid Leonov RMS Ratingen Yigt Bay Elizabeth 85 0 It has been scientifically proven that such a similarity of results is impossible. An absurd situation arises when scientific fact contradicts practice. Philosophy tells us that practice should be a criterion defined by the state of our scientific knowledge. 176 Scientific Journals of the Maritime University of Szczecin 45 (117)

5 Evgeny Lushnikov, Krzysztof Pleskacz Figure 3. Comparison of true courses obtained from various course indicators GE gyro error; TB true direction read from a chart; GB gyrocompass bearing. D = TB CB var. (3) D deviation; CB compass bearing; var. magnetic variation. An analysis of the data obtained from the tested ships showed that the value of the mean error of the gyrocompass, m G, was ±1., and that the standard deviation of the magnetic compass deviation, m d, was ±4.8. The larger error of deviation for the magnetic compass may be due to the lower perceived status of the magnetic compass and to its being treated as a control or standby device. Combining the results in Figure, we can easily compare corresponding true courses obtained from gyrocompasses and magnetic compasses. Equation (4) shows the difference in headings, C, resulting from simultaneous observations of a gyrocompass and a magnetic compass: C = TC G TC M (4) TC G true course from a gyrocompass; TC M true course from magnetic compass. It clearly follows from the results that ΔC value differences of 0, as commonly recorded on ships around the world, do not occur. In 17 cases, the difference exceeded 5 ; on nine ships it ranged from 3 to 5 ; and on another nine ships the difference was less than 3. The mean error (m C ) of ΔC determined for the statistical ship was ±. The results of an expert study also indicated that only 56% of experts declared that they regularly monitored the magnetic compass, while no more than 76% of these respondents declared that they regularly monitored the gyrocompass, either (Lushnikov & Pleskacz, 01). Interestingly, 14% of crew members had never witnessed the adjustment of a magnetic compass, and 7% of personnel with 16 years of sea service had never seen a compass adjuster working on a ship. Improper practices were confirmed by 9% of respondents, who declared that the deviation table of the magnetic compass used on their previous ships had not been drawn up by either an adjuster or a crew member. This is against the regulations and good sea practice. The regulations explicitly provide the procedures to be followed to monitor course indicators. The only way to acquire a table of magnetic compass deviation is its preparation by a crew member or a qualified adjuster. Thus, the research data gathered here supports the contention that the whole seafaring world acts improperly in reference to compass monitoring. 178 Scientific Journals of the Maritime University of Szczecin 45 (117)

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