A new voice for today’s workboat professional emerges.
As the captain of an OSV, I’ve spent a great deal of my life waiting. Waiting at the dock, at anchor, at the 500. Wherever one could wait, I have waited there. I can wait with the best of them. Now, just out of habit, I’ll wait when doing so is not required or helpful.
Because of this waiting I, like most mariners, can gripe with the best of them. I also excel at grumbling, grousing, and my bellyaching is hard to beat. I guess mariners develop this skill while we wait (or maybe because we wait). During many parts of our job there is little to do but complain to those around us. And by “around” I mean nearby, within radio range, or (now) online.
But as much as I hate to say it, as good as us mariners are at griping, we are bad at doing anything with our complaints. How many of us have submitted a comment about a Coast Guard regulation, written a letter to our Congressman, or participated in developing the guidance published by industry bodies?
Many of my fellow mariners will say that they don’t air their grievances in these circles because they don’t think that anyone will listen. While I disagree, I honestly understand why many feel that way. There are not many avenues in our industry that are designed to receive input directly from the mariners.
But, I have found a body that has created just such a system. Last year, I became a member of the Offshore Service Vessel Dynamic Positioning Authority (OSVDPA). The OSVDPA offers individual membership to DPOs, DP instructors, and other dynamic positioning professionals. For the OSVDPA, membership is separate from their DPO certification program or their accreditation of training providers; you don’t need to be an OSVDPA DPO to become a member.
Instead, OSVDPA membership is part of the management of the organization. It exists as a way for the organization to receive input from dynamic positioning users. Said another way, they created the membership program to hear and address our gripes.
The best part of being a member in the OSVDPA is that, every year, members are allowed to elect one of their own to the OSVDPA Technical Advisory Council (or TAC). The TAC is the body of industry professionals that makes recommendations to the OSVDPA Board on issues dealing with executing and updating the OSVDPA’s certification scheme.
The TAC is populated by safety, operations, and HR personnel from vessel operators; DP instructors from training providers; and other shore-based DP experts. It counts among its members, representatives from the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) and the Marine Technology Society’s DP Committee. These men are DP professionals; many of them are former DPOs themselves. However, none of them sail currently so they do not have firsthand experience in how DP operations are currently being conducted in real-world environments.
The TAC and the OSVDPA understands the necessity of such input. It ensures a relevant and practical certification system. Thus, the TAC looks to the membership to provide guidance on questions of how certain operations are conducted or how OSVDPA documents or instructions will be interpreted by mariners.
I was fortunate enough to be elected as this year’s membership representative to the TAC. It is an honor for me to be chosen by my peers from across the fleet to represent their interests on this body. During my tenure on this body, we have debated practical assessment scenarios, new multiple-choice questions for the Induction Course, and changes to the OSVDPA DPO certification system.
In these discussions – some of which I called into from on board my vessel – I was able to apply my everyday experiences as boat captain to help the OSVDPA ensure that their program provides a suitable training system for these mariners.
For example, the OSVDPA assessment system is built around the use of scenarios. Scenarios are pre-printed assessments that attempt to mirror real-world DP operations. Each scenario describes an operation that is being conducted, what happens during this operation, and the 45 items the assessor measures to determine if the DPO passed or failed the assessment. The OSVDPA is attempting to create enough scenarios, whereby every workboat-based DPO will be able to choose a scenario that resembles operations they regularly conduct.
In this effort, I was able make suggestions to improve the realism of the scenario. It is my hope that this input helped the OSVDPA create scenarios that were more true-to-life, thereby helping to ensure that the next generation of DPOs will be better trained and highly competent.
Many times, I agreed with the views of the other TAC members. At other times, I objected to parts of scenarios as not being realistic enough and have urged the OSVDPA to adopt more assessment scenarios for DP-1 vessels, as many of the OSVDPA’s current scenarios are not applicable to the operations of this type of vessels. There have certainly been times – at least one time in every meeting – that the position I advocated for was not adopted; but I always have felt that my gripes are being heard and considered. And when my views were not adopted, I have always been given a reason that my position was not adopted.
Later this year, I will stand for re-election to the TAC – I am allowed to serve one more term before being term limited – and I hope that I my fellow members continue to put their faith in me. Part of the reason I want to continue on the TAC is that I have some things that I want to push the OSVDPA to implement.
Specifically, I want to help the OSVDPA develop better examples of how OSVDPA logbooks should be completed. The OSVPDA’s logbooks have a different look than the industry standard. I like the book, but if you don’t know how to use it, it can appear daunting. Thus, the OSVDPA needs better examples to show how it should be completed. Also, because DPOs shouldn’t have to have to be lawyers just to pass the Phase 1 exam, I want to help write multiple choice questions that don’t read like the Magna Carta.
However, if I am not re-elected, I will continue my membership in the OSVDPA because of the other benefits provided by membership. For example, the OSVDPA will poll members periodically to see what sorts of assessment scenarios it should develop. Additionally, OSVDPA members receive first notification when the OSVDPA makes changes or additions to its program. Finally, every year the OSVDPA Board of Directors holds a conference for all members. This is a great opportunity to talk to some of the leaders in our industry and get their perspective as to where not only the OSVDPA is going but where the entire offshore energy industry is going.
But the final reason that I’ll keep my membership, might be the best reason. Being a member of the OSVDPA gives me a way to do something about my complaints. After all and since I have some good gripes, it would be a shame not to share them. I hope you’ll join me and become a member.
Capt. Robert "Bobby" Moyer has been a certified dynamic positioning operator (DPO) since 2004 and currently holds an OSVDPA Class A DPO Certificate, Nautical Institute Unlimited DPO Certificate, and is also an OSVDPA Qualified on Board Assessor (QOBA). Moyer has been serving aboard DP-2 classed vessels in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico since 2003 without incident and continues to be a strong voice for the mariner community.
(As published in the September 2017 edition of Marine News