Training Challenges

Dennis L. Bryant
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Dennis L. Bryant, Maritime Regulatroy Consulting, Gainsville, Fla. t: 352-692-5493 e: dennis.l.bryant@gmail.com

As Training initiatives increase, so too does pressure to do them well

 The maritime industry faces a huge challenge with regard to timely and proper training of merchant mariners and other individuals within the industry.  The industry is changing rapidly.  These changes are driven partly by regulation, but more so through technological advances and economic pressures.  Ships are evolving.  The individuals who operate and maintain those ships must learn new methods of performing their duties in order to keep up.
No government mandates the use of containers for shipment of cargo, but the taskmaster of economic competition has driven almost all shippers and carriers of many cargos to adopt their use.  The industry had to relearn cargo handling to accommodate that revolutionary change.
Likewise, no government mandates the use of azimuthing thrusters to propel ships.  They have been found, though, to offer important advantages to many types of vessels.  As with containerization, adoption of this new technology brought with it new training requirements.  The list could go on and on.
Certain changes, though, are driven by regulation, particularly with regard to environmental protection measures.  Double hulls, ballast water management, air emission controls and the electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) stand out as examples.
Another primary reason that training presents such a challenge for the maritime industry is the basic business model utilized by many companies.  Crew members are acquired through agents and management companies.  Few crew members, particularly among the unrated personnel, stay long with one ship or one company.  The crew has a continual turnover.  Even experienced mariners, who may have sailed on tankers or containerships or another particular type for most of their careers seldom sail on the same ship for very long.  As a result, these mariners are constantly working in new environments.  The owners and operators of ships expect that every new crew member that reports aboard is fully able to perform all of his or her assigned duties, but that owner or operator seldom is involved in the training process.
When new equipment, such as ECDIS, is installed on a ship, the technical representative of the manufacturer provides basic training and familiarization to crew members, such as deck officers, who will be operating the device.  The representative also provides an operator’s manual.  This is barely adequate for those particular crew members.  It does nothing for the replacement crew members.  Courts have ruled that just having an operator’s manual available on the bridge is inadequate – the owner/operator must ensure that the crew member charged with operating a particular device has been provided the training required to properly operate it.  ECDIS is a good example, because each model of each make of the ECDIS is different.  The displays are slightly different from model to model.  The control panels are different.  The capabilities are different.  To make matters more complex, each model is subject to continual upgrade.  Being proficient on one model does make a person proficient on all models.
The Seafarers’ Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Code, as amended by the Manila Amendments, provides, at Section A-I/14.2:

The company shall provide written instructions to the master of each ship to which the Convention applies, setting forth the policies and the procedures to be followed to ensure that all seafarers who are newly employed on board the ship are given a reasonable opportunity to become familiar with the shipboard equipment, operating procedures and other arrangements needed for the proper performance of their duties, before being assigned to those duties.  Such policies and procedures shall include:
       .1    allocation of a reasonable period of time during which each newly employed seafarer will have an opportunity to become acquainted with:
    .1.1    the specific equipment the seafarer will be using or operating;
    .1.2    ship-specific watchkeeping, safety, environmental protection, security and emergency procedures and arrangements the seafarer needs to know to perform the assigned duties properly; and
       .2    designation of a knowledgeable crew member who shall be responsible for ensuring that an opportunity is provided to each newly employed seafarer to receive essential information in a language the seafarer understands.

For U.S.-flag vessels, the U.S. Coast Guard addresses the ship-specific requirement with two regulations.  For all U.S. commercial vessels, the Coast Guard requires that:

Each credentialed individual must become familiar with the relevant characteristics of the vessel on which engaged prior to assuming his or her duties.  As appropriate, these include but are not limited to: general arrangements of the vessel; maneuvering characteristics; proper operation of the installed navigation equipment; fire-fighting and lifesaving equipment; stability and loading characteristics; emergency duties; and main propulsion and auxiliary machinery, including steering gear systems and controls.  46 CFR § 15.405.

The USCG regulation for vessels subject to the STCW Convention (46 CFR § 15.1105) is more specific, but to the same effect.  One difference between the two USCG regulations relates to the wording.  The general regulation is addressed to and places the burden of familiarization on the individual seafarer.  The STCW regulation is addressed to and places the burden of familiarization on both the individual seafarer and the seafarer’s supervisor. Crew changes almost always occur in port.  Because port calls now are measured in hours rather than days, it is difficult to see how owners, operators, masters, and individual mariners meet their professional and legal obligations for shipboard familiarity prior to assuming duty.  One change that might be adopted, albeit expensive, would be for the relieving crew member to join the ship at the port call prior to the port call at which the relieved crew member departs.  Another would be for the port call to be extended – again potentially expensive.  These expenses, though, are much less than the costs of an onboard accident or marine casualty that could have been avoided if the oncoming mariner had received the required familiarization before assuming duties.  My limited research has failed to disclose a case where an owner or operator has been found liable for a marine casualty due to failure to provide the required shipboard familiarization, but such liability will eventually occur (if it hasn’t happened already).  The requirement for shipboard familiarization is professionally sound.  Owners, operators, and masters should adopt the prudent approach and provide their crew members with a fair opportunity to properly perform their duties.
Some owners and operators do an excellent job of ensuring that their shipboard and shoreside personnel are properly trained – and my hat goes off to them.  In my admittedly limited experience, though, these are in the minority.  Many owners and operators set training standards for their managers and crew suppliers, but don’t carefully examine the new crew members proffered to determine whether they actual measure up.  Gaps in training, particularly with regard to shipboard familiarization, are widespread.  Economic pressures in the past few years have resulted reductions in many training efforts.  This development is short-sighted and will lead to higher costs in the future.
 

(As published in the August 2013 edition of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News - www.marinelink.com)


Technology

MN100: BlueTide Communications

The Company: BlueTide is a leader in the provisioning, implementation, monitoring and support of satellite equipment. Combining the power of HUGHES proprietary

Transas to Unveil the ‘Future of Maritime Operations’

Today's maritime industry requires realistic solutions and concepts for a modern, integrated operational infrastructure that delivers a sustainable, viable future,

Damen, Evoqua Team for Innovative BWTS Solution

Two innovators in delivering unique solutions for the maritime sector, Damen Green Solutions and Evoqua Water Technologies will launch the DAMEN BALCON EC 1500

Marine Electronics

MobileOps Pursuing Maritime Business

Redmond, Wash. based MobileOps, Inc., a software company specializing in the design and development of maritime software applications (dispatch, safety, compliance,

MN100: BlueTide Communications

The Company: BlueTide is a leader in the provisioning, implementation, monitoring and support of satellite equipment. Combining the power of HUGHES proprietary

Transas to Unveil the ‘Future of Maritime Operations’

Today's maritime industry requires realistic solutions and concepts for a modern, integrated operational infrastructure that delivers a sustainable, viable future,

Environmental

Doing Business Differently to Meet Sustainability Targets: DNV GL

Pressure is mounting on the global oil and gas industry to reduce environmental footprint at the same time as the industry is under significant cost pressure.    Since

GoM Operators Evacuating Ahead of Storm

Offshore oil and gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico are evacuating platforms and rigs in the path of Tropical Depression No. 9.   The Bureau of Safety and Environmental

NParks, Keppel in S$2.08 mln Partnership for Restoring Singapore Forest Wetlands

The National Parks Board (NParks) and Keppel Corporation today unveiled plans for a partnership to restore the freshwater forest wetland ecosystem historically

Education/Training

MPA Academy’s Port Management Program Attracts Global Maritime Officials

The 3rd Port Management Programme (PMP), one of the flagship programmes developed by the MPA Academy for port masters, harbour masters and middle managers from

SUNY Maritime Among 'Best Bang for the Buck' Colleges

SUNY Maritime College has been named one of the best colleges for its price by Washington Monthly.   SUNY Maritime placed in the top 30 schools in the Northeast.

Coast Guard Foundation Awarded 128 Scholarships

The Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the education and welfare of all Coast Guard members and their families, announced today that

Marine Power

MN100: Cummins Marine, Inc.

The Company: Cummins, Inc. is a corporation of complementary business units that design, manufacture, distribute and service engines and related technologies, including fuel systems,

USS Freedom Suffers Casualty

The U.S. Navy's first littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) experienced a casualty to one of its main propulsion diesel engines (MPDE) on July 11 reportedly

MN100: R.W. Fernstrum & Company

The Company: R.W. Fernstrum & Company set the standard in marine heat exchangers over 65 years ago, building a reputation focused on innovation. Today, its commitment is to continual improvement,

Coast Guard

Caribbean Fantasy Fire Extinguished

A fire that broke out aboard the passenger vessel Caribbean Fantasy at 7:42 a.m. on August 17 has been extinguished, and the vessel has been moored safely in port.

Coast Guard Foundation Awarded 128 Scholarships

The Coast Guard Foundation, a non-profit organization committed to the education and welfare of all Coast Guard members and their families, announced today that

Indian Cargo Ship Sinks Off Oman

An Indian cargo ship loaded with vehicles and food supplies destined for Yemen sank on Saturday off the coast of Oman but without loss of life, Oman’s ONA state news agency reported.

Electronics

MobileOps Pursuing Maritime Business

Redmond, Wash. based MobileOps, Inc., a software company specializing in the design and development of maritime software applications (dispatch, safety, compliance,

MN100: BlueTide Communications

The Company: BlueTide is a leader in the provisioning, implementation, monitoring and support of satellite equipment. Combining the power of HUGHES proprietary

Transas to Unveil the ‘Future of Maritime Operations’

Today's maritime industry requires realistic solutions and concepts for a modern, integrated operational infrastructure that delivers a sustainable, viable future,

Maritime Safety

Singapore to Focus on Improving Navigational Safety

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) launched the first-ever International Safety@Sea Conference in Singapore.    The conference will run for two days and concludes on 31 August 2016.

GoM Operators Evacuating Ahead of Storm

Offshore oil and gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico are evacuating platforms and rigs in the path of Tropical Depression No. 9.   The Bureau of Safety and Environmental

New Offshore Gangway Launched at ONS

The new Barge Master Gangway will be presented at the joint booth of Barge Master and Bosch Rexroth during the international offshore trade exhibition ONS (Offshore Northern Seas) in Stavanger.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Security Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Salvage Ship Repair Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1577 sec (6 req/sec)