Emergency ship-handling courses, specialised DP simulators and innovative training ships are reducing DP incidents, improving safety and increasing efficiencies across the OSV sector
Bespoke training courses provide a practical means of reducing incidents and accidents during dynamic positioning (DP) operations. Training will improve the competence of DP operators, while simulators can test their ship-handling skills, essential in cases of DP system failure.
In 2018, The Nautical Institute introduced an emergency ship-handling course for OSVs which has significantly improved the competence of operators, according to chief executive Capt John Lloyd. Talking at Riviera Maritime Media’s European Dynamic Positioning Conference, he explained that 30 seafarers have completed the course, which trains crews to handle vessels during DP failures, notably “where there is a risk of a loss of position.”
John Lloyd (Nautical Institute): “Training means DP operators can maintain their competency and develop new workplace skills”
“Training means DP operators can maintain their competency and preparedness for work and develop new workplace skills,” he said, adding that he expects more seafarers to complete the emergency ship-handling course in 2019.
Also in 2018, The Nautical Institute introduced refresher training courses for DP technical personnel; more than 400 technical staff have now complete this training across various centres.
Vessel owners clearly recognise the importance of improving the emergency ship-handling skills of DP operators and, to that end, are beginning to invest in simulator-based training courses. In one example of this innovative approach to training – and prompted by an increasing number of reported DP incidents – oil and gas industry contractor Saipem turned to Kongsberg Maritime, which operates the Kongsberg Maritime training centre in Kongsberg, Norway. Here, seafarers are tested on a tailored DP emergency scenario training course. A series of 10 courses are held, which are “comprehensive courses allowing our DP operators to carry out corrective actions in simulated DP scenarios and [to] consider the potential consequences,” says Saipem training centre manager Roberta Tamburro. He adds: “The simulator exercises enable [crew] to self-assess their emergency responses in a stressful environment.”
When DP is active, it automatically manages a vessel’s heading and position via computer-controlled inputs to the ship’s thrusters and propellers. It has proven invaluable in more than 50 years of use for all types of offshore operations, particularly for cable and pipe laying, diving support and drilling.
However, when issues arise, DP operators must swiftly take control of the vessel, but human frailties can significantly impair decision-making and communication in emergency scenarios.
The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) keeps abreast of reported incidents and issues with DP systems. IMCA technical adviser Andy Goldsmith believes the reporting of incidents and station keeping events can improve safety across the offshore sector. “It provides management with important feedback on issues and helps to steer training for improving DP operator competence,” he says.
Mr Goldsmith notes there had been increasing numbers of companies involved in this initiative and therefore more incidents are being reported. The majority of incidents reported have been due to issues with propulsion, DP control computers or loss of position reference, the kind of issues that Kongsberg’s training has helped Saipem employees identify, and consequently improve their situational awareness and implement appropriate measures.
“The simulator exercises enable [crew] to self-assess their emergency responses in a stressful environment”
Prior to starting Kongsberg’s four-day course, Saipem’s employees complete a 40-question DP system knowledge test, which pinpoints shortfalls in competence and DP system understanding before the training begins.
During the course, Saipem’s crews used Kongsberg’s DNV Class A K-Sim Offshore simulator and role-playing scenarios to replicate procedures including emergency manoeuvring and close-proximity emergency station keeping.
The course begins with a one-day familiarisation session on the K-Pos DP operator interface and cJoy joystick control system.
Crew then take control of the K-Sim Offshore simulator, using a program based on operations on Saipem’s pipelaying vessel, Castorone. They carry out stress-testing critical activity mode of operation (CAMO) and activity-specific operating guidelines (ASOG) risk-management methods.
Simulator exercises of this nature provide instructors with an overview of individual responses and their potential effect on team dynamics and incident outcomes.
“Debriefs after each exercise and open discussions throughout cemented the view that the course represented a fully rounded and deeply beneficial learning experience,” says Ms Tamburro.
Kongsberg Maritime DP instructor Ole Aleksander Ottesen says his team received positive feedback from Saipem and he expects more offshore vessel operators to send their employees on bespoke DP training courses.
Kongsberg Maritime won Offshore Support Journal’s Dynamic Positioning Award its long-range relative positioning sensor technology.
No doubt simulator-based training is creating new ways of safely training crew and measuring their abilities in stressful situations with minimal risk. However, that should not detract from the importance of training DP operators on real ships. In February, Pukyong National University (PKNU) in Busan, South Korea, ordered a DP system from GE’s Power Conversion business for its training ship.
This 3,990 gt, 97-m vessel was built by Dae Sun Shipbuilding & Engineering Co with capacity for 160 people.
GE SeaStream DP system was ordered for a training vessel by Pukyong National University in South Korea
GE was selected to supply its SeaStream DP system to enable cadets to control the vessel’s horizontal movement and hold its position against harsh wind in adverse sea conditions for a long period of time.
“GE’s technology will contribute to us adding the largest and best-equipped new vessel to our fleet,” said PKNU ship training and operations centre director Lee Jong-Gun. The training vessel will be the 14 in PKNU’s fleet.
SeaStream DP will contribute to the ship’s overall efficiency and operational effectiveness as it can be operated in an energy-efficient mode to reduce fuel consumption.
It includes predictive software that anticipates position variations and can limit thrust changes if the vessel is predicted to remain within a pre-defined inner tolerance band. If the vessel is predicted to move outside of this operating window (an outer tolerance band), the system develops optimum thrust to remain within the defined window. Algorithms help SeaStream DP optimise a vessel’s heading to further reduce power consumption and limit thruster and machinery wear and tear.
GE studies have demonstrated that fuel savings in this mode could be up to 10% and associated NOx emissions are reduced up to 20%, depending on environmental factors and operational profile.