Competence is a crucial factor in the shipping business. Through its SeaSkill certification services DNV GL helps owners and operators, maritime training providers and test centres to advance crew training and ensure the highest levels of safety on board.
The most sophisticated technologies are of limited use if not operated by people who command the appropriate skills. As maritime technology advances so do the demands on crews. Complex on-board systems, shorter turnover times in ports and the ambition to operate vessels as efficiently as possible, requires highly skilled seafarers. “Enhancing crew competence and establishing a strong safety culture is a key concern for many operators in the maritime and offshore sectors. Competence management is therefore at the heart of the SeaSkill programme,” says Nils Gunnar Bøe, Head of SeaSkill and Area Manager Norway East, Mid & North at DNV GL.
Overcoming reactive competence management
Seafarer training is subject to the rules of the IMO “Convention on Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers“ (STCW). The amended 2012 version of the STCW sets forth new standards and requires all seafarers to be certified accordingly by 2017. Training organizations and their equipment also require certification under the STCW. The DNV GL SeaSkill programme with its standard for providers of maritime training was the first competence- related initiative by a classification society and is widely recognized and valued by the industry. “SeaSkill certification ensures high-quality, well-structured maritime education programmes using appropriate resources and equipment, and proper competence assessments which increase the value of licences and certificates,” says Bøe. Going beyond the basic requirements of STCW, SeaSkill certification is designed to make sure that “ships are operated by people who are fit for purpose.”
DNV GL SeaSkill certification to applicable national or international standards is available for maritime training providers, learning programmes and test centres, simulators used for training and qualification, assessment centres and competence management systems.
DNV GL SeaSkill also assists training organizations in developing competence standards and recommended practices for areas such as ice navigation, the use of LNG as a fuel or Dynamic Positioning (DP). “Our experts have also developed a voluminous library of skill standards, which have been adopted by many training providers and assessment centres,” says Bøe.
SeaSkill assessment systematics have been formally recognized by the London-based International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA), the Norwegian government and practically all relevant flag states. The German Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH) has recently acknowledged the equivalence of the DNV GL standard GL-ST- 0029 with the ISO 9001 quality management standards.
Facilitating simulator certification
Numerous companies have embraced the DNV GL SeaSkill standards and activities as a reference or source for their own activities, or use voluntary SeaSkill certification to verify the quality of their maritime-training-related products and processes. For example, over 200 DP operator certificates have been issued based on SeaSkill certification.
Kongsberg Digital, a leading manufacturer of simulators, and DNV GL have formed a partnership enabling Kongsberg to assist operators in meeting the STCW requirements. For training organizations, achieving compliance has been a challenge, says Nils Gunnar Bøe. “There have been several misunderstandings regarding the STCW requirements, which have resulted in additional costs for training providers seeking approval for their simulators.”
In future DNV GL will issue product certificates based on an evaluation of documentation provided by Kongsberg and a report of the on-site acceptance test conducted by Kongsberg according to approved testing programmes. DNV GL will also perform annual tests of the training provider’s equipment to ensure continued compliance. “We are very satisfied to work with DNV GL to reduce the complexities and challenges maritime training providers face when obtaining product certificates for their simulator installations,” says Erik Hovland, General Manager in Maritime Simulation, Kongsberg Digital.
Safety culture inspired by airlines
DNV GL SeaSkill has certified three DP test centres in Norway, including Kongsberg‘s Ship Modelling and Simulation Centre (SMSC) in Trondheim, the Simsea centre in Haugesund, and Kongsberg Digital’s test centre. “These centres will follow industry best practices when awarding DP operator certificates to candidates who have passed their mandatory theoryand practical exams,” says DNV GL project manager Lars Markusson. More test centres will follow soon.
In the Netherlands, SeaSkill is certifying Carnival Corporation’s training facility CSMART in Almere. “CSMART is one of 150 education and learning providers worldwide certified by DNV GL SeaSkill according to the DNV GL ST-0029 standard for Maritime Training Providers,” says SeaSkill’s Nils-Gunnar Bøe.
Carnival Corporation has modelled its safety culture after an approach adopted by the airline industry as early as the 1980s. To ensure the same or higher safety standards, all technical officers from each of Carnival’s brands attend one week of training at CSMART every year. Captain David Christie, SVP, Maritime Quality Assurance at Carnival Corporation, explains: “Modern cruise ship management demands the highest level of safety, and, within all of the Carnival brands, we strive to meet or exceed the applicable safety standards.”