By Wendy Laursen 2015-04-30 00:24:59
The Nautical Institute (NI) has launched a new online platform to handle accreditation for dynamic positioning operators. The move comes after changes effective this year to the training scheme and standards required by dynamic positioning operators (DPOs). However, not everyone is satisfied with the new arrangements.
The Alexis Platform (www.nialexisplatform.org) was introduced as a single access point for accreditation after changes were made following a comprehensive review of training needs globally in 2013.
One of the outcomes of that review was the need to reduce fraud, and the platform is designed to do that, says Regina Bindao, Director of Accreditations at the NI. The old system allowed people to apply even if their paperwork wasn’t complete. “Alexis has many more checks in place for applications coming through, so it avoids incorrect applications and provides more help, and straight answers to the applicant when something is not in compliance with the scheme.”
However, freelance mate and DPO, Jill Friedman, says the new scheme is unlikely to improve fraud. Instead, she believes it will cause a lot of very experienced DPOs to lose our ability to work.
“The reason there was any fraud (and I don’t think it was anywhere near as prevalent as it was made out to be) is because there was virtually no way for a new person to become a certified DPO in the old scheme. That has not changed” says Friedman.
“The problem was, and still is, that once you go through the induction training course, you have to get a certain amount of time on board a DP vessel. It used to be 30 days between courses, now it is 60. So, they have made it even harder for a person to get the training they need to advance. Most companies now refuse to take on board anyone who is not fully trained and certified. That is the problem.”
Added to that concern, is another of the main changes to the scheme – the introduction of restricted certificates for shuttle tankers and unclassed vessels alongside the established limited and unlimited certificates.
Friedman, like many others, she says, is concerned about getting cut out of sectors of the industry, something that has happened in her non-DP mate roles. Friedman lost her tanker certification when she hadn’t been on a tanker for five years. “So, after 13 years of working on tankers, I can never do it again because no company wants to take anyone on board who is not fully trained and certified.”
The same thing is going to happen with DP, she says. “If things get tough, like they’re getting now, and I have to take a job on some other type of vessel, I might not have enough DP time to renew. What is going to happen then? I will have to start all over again from scratch. After almost 15 years as a DPO, on all kinds of DP vessels, I might lose the license for good if I can’t stay working on DP vessels.”
Friedman is against the concept of DP tickets for different types of ships. “Soon it will be shuttle tankers, then drill ships, then dive boats. This will only make it much harder for DPOs to find work. Yes, there is some difference between the work these vessels do, but not enough to need a different license for it – just a little time on board as a junior DPO.
However, Philip Wake, Chief Executive of the NI, says the training standards were updated in consultation with industry organizations such as the International Association of Drilling Contractors, International Chamber of Shipping, International Dynamic Positioning Operators Association, International Marine Contractors Association, International Support Vessel Owners’ Association, Oil Companies International Marine Forum and regional training providers in Asia, the Americas and Europe.
“The main issue with shuttle tankers is that they are not on DP a great deal, particularly the ones operating on the longer sea routes, such as those from Brazil to the U.S. Their amount of time on DP is very limited, and it was an issue that meant that even with the reduction of DP sea time down to 120 days their trainees wouldn’t be able to complete the training scheme within the four year time frame,” says Wake.
“The other issue is that the offshore loading process for shuttle tankers is a very specialized operation, and they wanted that to be included in the training scheme – offshore loading as well as DP.”
The new scheme, effective January 1, also included the following changes:
• Moving from 30 days familiarization to 60 days DP sea time between induction and simulator courses
• Introducing additional assessment after completion of simulator course
• Moving from 180 days DP sea time to 120 days DP sea time
• Moving from a minimum of one hour on DP desk per qualifying day to a minimum of two hours per day
• Moving from a log book to an enhanced task book
• Moving from no revalidation requirement to revalidation every five years
The Alexis Platform now provides a single point of access for applications for new and revalidated Nautical Institute DPO certificates and enables the validity of certificates to be checked by employers.
“While we are in a period of consolidation, it is clear that these measures are delivering significant improvements for DPOs and the wider industry, and we are committed to maintaining this positive momentum backed by appropriate resource,” says Bindao.