The certification and validation of operators of dynamic positioning (DP) systems will peak in 2019, according to The Nautical Institute
The Nautical Institute chief executive Capt John Lloyd believes there are around 25,000 DP operator certificates in service, but expects the number of certified DP operators will “tail-off” in 2020 as more people decide not to revalidate their certificates.
Speaking at this year’s Riviera Maritime Media’s European Dynamic Positioning Conference, which is being held in London on 5 February Capt Lloyd said that hundreds of DP operators have found employment outside the profession due to years of downturn in the offshore oil and gas sector.
However, there is an uptick in DP operator certification due to those training for work in offshore renewables, shuttle tankers and other sectors. The Nautical Institute has streamlined its certification process, according to Capt Lloyd.
“We are busy in DP operator revalidation; currently we process in 15 days, but we still get non-compliant applications, around 2%,” he explained. His organisation revalidated around 3,400 DP operator certificates in 2018.
DP training and certification has improved the competence of operators. “It means operators of DP systems can maintain their currency and preparedness for work and develop new workplace skills,” explained Capt Lloyd.
The Nautical Institute has introduced a new certification service for a specific sector of growth in January 2019. “We have put a lot of work into offshore renewable sector [and] defined a scheme for self-elevating jack-ups,” said Capt Lloyd.
“We tried to balance the number of days on board and the activities to tailor a log-book of experience for DP operators.” This needs to accommodate the experience of DP operators and the vessel’s onboard activities.
The Nautical Institute has also introduced two approved courses for DP operations: a course for emergency ship-handling of offshore support vessels; and the Nautical Institute’s refresher training for DP technical personnel. The former trains crews in responding to vessel handling when there are DP failures, “where there is a risk of a loss of position,” explained Capt Lloyd.
However, only 30 candidates completed this course in 2018, which Capt Lloyd thinks demonstrates that OSV owners need to prioritise their safety focus. “Take-up was poor and is disappointing,” he said.
However, take-up of the refresher training for DP technical personnel was better, with more than 400 technical staff completing training in various centres.
DNV GL Noble Denton’s DP technical authority, Steven Cargill, explained how the guidance issued by the Marine Technology Society’s (MTS) DP sub-committee boosts safety. He explained that MTS’s DP guidance is complementary to class rules, but intended to serve different purposes.
Its guidance is generated in response to observed gaps or shortfalls in the DP validation and verification processes, he said. It allows the user to understand and manage their station keeping risk portfolio. MTS’s DP guidance “provides help to vessel owners who seek to differentiate themselves,” Mr Cargill added.
Also at the European Dynamic Positioning Conference, Maritime Assurance & Consulting (MAC) operations manager Chad Fuhrmann introduced the OpTech DP operational and technical awareness program. This addresses charterers’ concerns about the gap in operational knowledge of management teams responsible for creating policies and procedures that govern DP operations.
MAC’s OpTech awareness programme includes a DP double-check reference card, personnel and operational assessments, DP emergency drill strategies, and an onsite classroom for offshore personnel and management.