Defining and assuring competence in marine operations

Defining and assuring competence in marine operations was the topic of a presentation, by V.Ships Compliance Director, Mike Bradshaw to delegates at the Nautical Institute AGM event in Aberdeen, UK today (Thursday 9 June).

Speaking as part of a panel session on competency and command, Mike set the scene by outlining the risks of navigation that are faced every day by our seafarers: “The consequences of navigation failure can be huge – to our seafarers on board, their families to the ships and cargo as well as the environment.”

There’s no dispute that we have a requirement for high quality and professional standards however as Mike pointed out – there’s always room for improvement and outlined three areas that are a priority for V.Group:

  • Ensuring people understand what the requirements are and how to meet those through clearly articulated procedures
  • Assuring adherence to following the procedures
  • Understanding the human factors involved.

Referencing the recent BIMCO Manpower report [May 18, 2016], which highlighted demand for officers will continue to outpace supply, Mike told delegates that recruiting good quality crew and retaining them is a real challenge: “We need to ensure knowledge is not forgotten and standards are maintained by attracting the best people.”

With a robust competence system and a rich supporting training program, which includes our specialist elearning company – Marlins, V.Group puts investment in competency high on its list of priorities: “Prior to employment we use simulator training and computer-based assessments to enhance a thorough face to face interview. We have dedicated modern training centres, which constantly develop to meet the requirements of our industry.”

Following successful employment there are ongoing competence assurance systems in place, which are designed to assure no drop in navigational standards: “Our processes and systems have been designed in line with the Oil Companies International Forum Tanker Management Self-Assessment (OCIMF TMSA) requirements,” explains Mike.

Mike’s presentation highlighted the need to provide this continued investment in training has increased: “The industry has changed; we can no longer expect a global standard for Certificates of Competency to exist without this continued investment. Smaller crews for example, have led to a reduction of on board training opportunities and investment. To continue to develop competence and improve standards we have to offer a combination of knowledge based and skills based training on shore and on board.”

Ongoing assessments help to identify early intervention requirements: “There’s always a fear of assessments however it’s important that we discover this training need early and make provision for investment.”

Concluding Mike reinforced that the investment need isn’t just in the training of individuals: “V.Group views this as a whole investment need to assure safe and compliant operations – focused not just on our people at sea and ashore but also in our technology and systems.”