A few days later Conducting military exercises off the coast of California, USS Palau Go home. This huge aircraft carrier capable of transporting 25 helicopters is fast approaching the Port of San Diego. In the cockpit-on the bridge, two floors above the cockpit-the atmosphere is very lively. The crew will soon disembark and enjoy themselves on the shore. The topic turned to where they went for dinner that night. Then, suddenly, the voice of the ship engineer rang from the intercom.
“Bridge, master,” he roared. “I am losing drum pressure. There is no obvious reason. I am closing my throttle.”
A junior officer working under the supervision of the ship’s navigator quickly walked up to the intercom and spoke to it, admitting: “Turn off the throttle, yes.” The navigator himself turned to the captain who was sitting on the port side of the wheelhouse. “Captain, the engineer lost the steam on the boiler for no reason,” he repeated.
Everyone present knew that the news was urgent. Losing steam pressure actually means losing the power of the entire ship. The consequences of this unexpected development soon became apparent. Only 40 seconds after the engineer reported that the steam drum was emptied and all steam operating systems stopped. A high-pitched alarm went off for a few seconds; then the bridge became abnormally quiet, and the electric motors in the radar and other equipment began to spin and stop.
However, power outages are not the full scope of an emergency. The lack of steam means that the crew cannot reduce the ship’s speed. The ship moved too fast to drop anchor. The only way to reduce its momentum is to reverse the propeller of the ship-of course, driven by steam. Most importantly, the loss of steam hindered the crew’s ability to steer the ship, and another consequence quickly became apparent. The navigator stared anxiously at the bow and ordered the helmsman to turn the rudder ten degrees to the right. The helmsman turned the steering wheel, but it had no effect.
“Sir, I don’t have a helmet, sir!” he exclaimed.
The rudder does have a manual backup system: two people sweating profusely in a compartment at the stern, trying their best to move the indomitable rudder an inch. The navigator still stared at the bow and whispered: “Come on, damn it, swing!” But the 17,000-ton ship continued to sail-towards the crowded Port of Santiago, now deviating from its original course.
On that day in 1984, Edwin Hutchins witnessed this unfolding. Hutchins is a psychologist hired by the San Diego Naval Personnel Research and Development Center.He boarded Palau As an observer, conduct research on the cognitive needs of ship navigation, take notes and record conversations. Now, the ship is in a crisis-“casualty” in the jargon of the crew-and Hutchins is also with him.
From the corner of the wheelhouse, Hutchins looked at the crew leader. He pointed out that the captain behaved calmly, as if all this was a routine matter. In fact, Hutchins knew that “the situation is by no means routine”: “On this cool spring afternoon, occasional popping noises, low curses, and sweat-soaked shirts when they take off their jackets tell the true story: Palau It is not completely controlled, and career and even life are in danger. “
Hutchins on the boat Phenomenon ship he It is called “cognition of social distribution”, or the way people think with the thoughts of others.in a book From his experience Palau, Field cognition, He writes that his goal is to “move the boundaries of the cognitive unit of analysis out of the individual’s skin and treat the navigation team as a cognitive and computing system.” Hutchins added that such a system “may have Own interesting cognitive characteristics.” Facing a dilemma that a single mind cannot solve, socially distributed cognition PalauThe crew is about to be tested.