Digitalisation technology can reduce the risk of ship operators being conned by a growing trend in fake seafarer training certificates
By using quick response (QR) codes on certificates, shipping could eradicate the issue of false seafarer competence claims and fake certification.
Maritime e-training company Seagull Maritime said regular auditing of training and testing centres and courses would reduce the risk of mariners obtaining certificates from courses they have not completed.
QR codes would ensure the authenticity of new course diplomas could be confirmed at all times by ship operators and inspectors. However, until there is a universal method of authentication, the problem of fraudulent certificates will persist.
IMO has detected more than 12,600 cases of certification forgery and Seagull thinks there are many more undetected. “The scale of the problem is unquantifiable,” said Seagull. “There are thousands of false certificates out there. Any seafarer certification that comes from sources that do not verify the supporting evidence will remain questionable and potentially suspect.”
This is a global issue in shipping. An EU-sponsored pilot project, GetQuality, revealed “nearly every 10th seafarer worldwide” has experienced fraudulent certificates, whether directly or indirectly.
This study determined fake certificates undermine the worldwide seafarer training and certification system. “They evoke suspicion and distrust between partners and countries, and cause danger to human safety at sea,” said Seagull. “One of the largest concerns is the lack of verification process following proof of certification.”
Seagull uses QR codes on new course diplomas, while older course diplomas are verified through the imprinted Seagull logo. Using these, ship operators can be assured that all diplomas are subject to a strict course verification processes, proving seafarers have completed the necessary training to earn their certificates.
QR codes are a type of matrix barcode, a machine-readable optical label that contains information about the item, in this case training certificate, to which it is attached.