ECDIS Ltd new 1.27 on-line and downloadable annual competency training

ECDIS Ltd new 1.27 online and downloadable annual competency training. Operators and Inspectors spotting a trend in gaps of seafarers basic knowledge in ECDIS.

Vitaly Klyuyev: “Seafarers training system in Russia complies with international standards”

The system of training and certification of seafarers in Russia has been brought into compliance with the international requirements. Major efforts of the Transport Ministry and other ad hoc agencies have lead up to that. In his interview with IAA PortNews, Vitaly Klyuyev, Director of RF Transport Ministry’s Department of State Policy for Maritime and River Transport, tells about training of shipboard personnel and about changes in the system of industry-specific education.

– Mr Klyuyev, could you, please, tell about the system of training seafarers in Russia and major activities of the Transport Ministry in this sphere? What is the most important thing you would emphasize today?

– The most important thing is to recognize the simple fact: our industry-focused educational institutions should be not process- but result-oriented. Who are those we are training? We should train seafarers. What is a seafarer is described by the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW, with Manila amendments) and by the STCW Code, which supplements the Convention. They set forth the requirements for seafarers of different specializations. Our task is to build a system for training seafarers so that they comply with international standards at any step of their carriers.

In this respect, Russian Ministry of Transport has been doing a comprehensive and consistent work starting from 2009 when Manila amendments appeared on the horizon. We have performed regulatory and organizational activities that have shaped the current system of seafarers training in the Russian Federation. This system has been recently praised by the Secretary- General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) during his visit to Russia.

We have approved Regulations on Certification of Seafarers which specify requirements for each phase of their training: basic education, certification with/without qualification testing, navigation and practical training, upgrade training when being promoted and changing positions.

In compliance with the mentioned Convention we have also created a system for recognizing educational organizations’ right to train seafarers. This recognition is also the competence of the Transport Ministry. All educational organizations wishing their graduates be awarded with diplomas by a Harbour Master should obtain a recognition from the Ministry of Transport.

Moreover, we have elaborated requirements for simulator training and a mechanism for certification of simulator centers entitled to perform conventional training. In this respect, simulator centers should comply with the STCW Convention requirements and be recognized by the Federal Marine and River Transport Agency (Rosmorrechflot).

At last, we are completing our work on the document that formalizes requirements on minimum safe manning. When this document is issued – and we hope this happens very soon – the complete package of documents on training of seafarers will be available in the Russian Federation.

Besides, each educational organization or simulator center should have an effective Quality Management System to control conventional training of seafarers (which is required by STCW Convention). QMS effectiveness is to be confirmed through certification.

In line with the STCW Convention we have created a dedicated information system for a centralized record of diplomas and qualifying certificates issued at all levels of education.  Now, all data about of each seafarer training (diplomas, qualification testing, length of sea-going service) is entered into the information system.

Thus, the Russian Federation obtains a unified, comprehensive, structured and legally recognized system (a system indeed!) for training and upgrading seafarers starting from their entry to the educational institution and up to the end of their carrier.

– The system has been developed. Does it cover all spheres of seafarers’ education and work? What else should be done in this respect?

– There is a process underway. It is related to the health of seafarers and the issue has moved to an advanced phase. In fact, confirmation of the ability to work onboard a ship in any position is regulated by two international documents – STCW Convention and Maritime Labour Convention (Russia has acceded to both).

Together with the Ministry of Health we have developed a list of diseases which do not allow taking onboard positions. There was no list of that kind before. It has appeared only in 2017.

Two processes should be completed in this respect: to approve the medical survey procedure and a form of certificate and to issue a list of medical organizations allowed to perform those activities.

The first document has already been approved by the Ministry of Health. Yet, there is one question – who and when should undergo such a survey. Draft amendments into MMC have been submitted to the State Duma with the decision expected by the end of 2017.

– What measures have been undertaken in practical sphere?

– In December 2016, Transport Ministry and Rosmorrechflot started optimization of seafarers certification by seaports’ Harbour Masters. We began with Saint-Petersburg: the Diploma Department has moved to a new building with a convenient logistics where seafarers are provided with consulting services. We have set a task of decreasing the time seafarers spend there (15 minutes maximum). Earlier, seafarers had to apply in two months for submitting documents. The process of documents consideration could take up to a month and the entire process – 2-3 months. Now it takes 15 minutes to submit documents. Then, within 10 days, a seafarer is informed by sms about the diploma availability and it takes 15 minutes maximum to get the document.

It is not about a situation when qualification testing is required. Of course, they will take additional time. There are two phases in this case: computer tests and an interview. The testing can be held immediately after submitting an application – no virtual or actual queues or any pre-appointment.

All Diploma Departments of Harbour Masters’ Services at all ports of the Russian Federation offer similar arrangements. I have visited most of them personally.

Besides, if there is a confirmation of a seafarer’s self-education it is not necessary to undergo qualification testing or upgrading for diploma prolongation provided that the position is not changed.

So, by the end of 2017 we are going to complete a 10-year long cycle of developing the system for training, certification and assignment of seafarers.

– What about the distance learning?

– Together with Admiral Makarov State University of Maritime and Inland Shipping (Saint-Petersburg) we are holding an experiment: one of the programmes needed for diploma prolongation has been partly converted into distance learning.

We have also agreed with Ushakov Maritime State University to elaborate distance learning methods.

The problem is in the necessity to check the knowledge acquired through distance education since motivation is not the feature of everybody, not always. Anyway, final testing, or “finalization” is performed with personal attendance. The Convention expects the states awarding diplomas to make sure that seafarers have the required knowledge and skills – and we are obliged to do that.

– Does anybody control everything you have told about?

– The Convention foresees regular inspections (once in five years) by independent experts in all countries where training of seafarers is performed. IMO held such an inspection in Russia three years ago and acknowledged that the seafarers training system in the Russian Federation complies with the Convention. The next inspection will be held in two years.

In 2018, we are starting stress-testing of our system. Throughout the year we will be testing all elements of the training system: simulator centers, Diploma Departments of Harbour Master’s Offices, educational institutions, Ministry of Transport, Federal Marine and River Transport Agency and Federal Agency for Transport Supervision – all the elements will fall under this inspection.

I will ask the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping to perform this inspection and I hope for their consent. We will use the findings to correct our activities and will have an independent inspection in 2019.

– You inspected many industry focused educational institutions last year. What are the results?

– In some cases we issued recognition certificates for reduced periods: one year or two (normally they are issued for five years) and we continue this practice today. The main cause is non-compliance of training methods with the Convention requirements and with national legislation. For example, instructors at simulator centers can set tasks for trainee at their own sweet will. Instructors are different while the Convention demands a formalized approach. According to the Convention, before training starts a trainee should be informed about knowledge he is going to obtain during the process, and methods he is going to apply for obtaining that knowledge, as well as how that knowledge will be checked. In many cases, training was not systematic though it is required to meet the Convention.

Very often, Quality Management System for education was questionable: very frequently it was a package of papers having nothing to do with the Convention or life in general. However, the Quality Management System should describe real processes at a specific educational institution with all participants of the educational process aware of their rights, obligations and functions within a quality system.

Several years ago we made arrangements with IMO Secretary-General and Deputy Transport Minister of the Russian Federation to publish autographed copies of the STCW Convention. We held a ceremony of handing them over to the heads of major educational institutions with a wish to study them “from cover to cover”. When heads of educational institutions understand methods and ways of education that are not recommended but prescribed (!) by the Convention their personnel will come to that understanding as well as those providing training.

To be sure, that has brought certain results. All educational institutions we recognize feature a systematic educational process, fully complying with the Convention.

One more problem that used to cause reduced recognition is the arrangement of practical training. Quite often, apprenticeship was under complete control of students. Having received the assignments they had to look for a shipping company and to arrange practical training on their own. We have stopped that malpractice. Today, rectors and educational institutions are responsible for practical training of their students. The institutions should either provide their own facilities or sign agreements with shipping companies for arrangement of practical training. We control implementation of those agreements, not just papers, but through actual communication with the shipping companies which confirm or do not confirm practical training of certain students and cadets.

– What do shipping companies get from this?

– They get a future seafarer. The companies willing to stay in the market today and tomorrow are interested in such people. They can get future employees and bring them up straight from their student-days. For example, all shipboard personnel of Sovcomflot are Russian seafarers. The company is bringing them up to the pension. It is a normal practice, many shipping companies rely on it.

Unqualified labour force is also of use at ships and the companies get apprentices who are not paid or paid “lunch money”. We demand that after the first or, maximum, second year students could obtain a qualification of a sailor-man or an entry-level engineman allowing for being employed as a real crewmember.

– Is there a position of a captain-instructor?

– As of today, a position of a captain-instructor has disappeared. This function is currently performed by one of the officers who is assigned as a person responsible for practical training. This person is to have a required qualification and to confirm that the practical training programme is fulfilled. Having signed the final certificate that person takes responsibility.

– Do graduates of industry-focused institutions stay in the profession and in Russia? Is there any statistics?

– When asked if they stay in the profession I will say “Yes”. We demand that educational organizations conduct analyses of further employment and we pay attention to that when inspecting the institutions. It was quite unexpected for us to find out that almost 90% and more graduates (depending on different higher education institutions) stay in the profession.

As for their stay in Russia, we should take into consideration that domestic shipping companies are quite staffed. Wages of crewmembers, especially those of foreign shipping vessels, are comparable to wages offered by foreign companies. But I do not see any tragedy if a graduate with a Russian diploma is employed by a foreign ship – apart of earning money that would be brought to the Russian economy (since the family is here) he will get a different qualification. I do not mean that such qualification is better as compared with that obtained in Russia but it is different in terms of maritime culture, communication, globalization, cargo flows. Thus, we have a wider range of specialists for a practical reality in Russia. Shipping, as it is, is an international sphere and attempts to close international markets for our graduates will not do any good.

– Are there foreign students in our industry-focused educational institutions?

– There are foreign students but I would not say there are many of them – there is a lot to be done to this end. Today, we are traditionally focused on our partners of USSR times: Vietnam, Mongolia, Iran, India … But I think our educational organizations should have a wider footprint and involve developed countries in exchange of specialists. In this context, I would note that I expected language problems when IMO Secretary-General had a meeting with cadets. Yet, there were no problems and I even envied some of the cadets over their good English pronunciation. Both IMO Secretary-General and me were favorably impressed with that.


Aviation Industry Far Ahead Of Maritime In Terms Of Safety

Transas CEO: Shipping industry can learn from aviation

Importing safety practices from aviation isn’t a panacea for the shipping industry, but there are opportunities to learn, argues Transas CEO Frank Coles.

Civil aviation stirs mixed emotions among seagoing types. It is often held up as a shining beacon of what the shipping industry could achieve if only it saw — and followed — the light. Others argue that such comparisons are unfair, inappropriate or dismiss them as an overly simplistic parallel. The truth probably lies somewhere in between these two extremes.

For aircraft, the direction of travel has always been towards standardized equipment, streamlined administration and procedures, and centralized traffic control — tendencies that instil a culture of safety permeating every level of activity.

The disappearance of flight MH370 reminds us that the aviation industry has shortcomings of its own, not least its flawed approach to asset tracking. In shipping, AIS has proved a workable, industry-wide answer.

Nonetheless, shipping is most harshly judged against aviation when the discussion turns to human error and officer training. As is commonly acknowledged, up to 80 percent of incidents and accidents in shipping are the result of either mistakes in performing a task, or by a failure to take action to avoid an incident escalating. Accident investigations often reveal that a chain of small decisions or unobserved incidents leads to a larger one.

In a study carried out by Berg (2013), maritime was found to be 25 times riskier than aviation, based on deaths per 100 kilometers traveled. The simple explanation is that airlines prioritize safety because their ‘cargo’ is predominantly human passengers. However, the crew operating cargo planes have to adhere to the same training regime as those carrying people.

“Pilots must undergo a rigorous assessment every six months,” noted Coles. “There is nothing close to this in maritime. I find that strange, given that a ship’s captain takes the ultimate responsibility for delivering the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the fuel we burn and everything else we take for granted. It’s almost as if the shipping industry lives in the shadows — behind a shield of invisibility.

“My worry is this ghostly existence affects how shipping companies go about their business, trickling down as a lowest common denominator mentality in terms of the crew hired, the training they receive, the salaries they are paid and the respect they are given.”

Coles believes there is a deep-rooted qualitative difference in the training philosophies pursued in the two sectors. “In shipping, under SOLAS and STCW, the objective is certification. Once certified, an officer or engineer can continue to work until revalidation is due five years later, which does not necessitate any refresher training. In aviation, the focus is on skills, competencies and continually honing their ability to react in emergency situations.”

Shipping companies are of course free to go beyond minimum requirements, but few see a compelling need to do so. “While some cruise and offshore operators understand the value of long-term investment in crew development, there are unscrupulous operators at the other end of the spectrum who choose to ignore suspect paperwork that was obtained on the streets of Manila or somewhere similar.”

One operator Coles cites as having successfully adapted lessons from aviation “to an extraordinary degree” has been Carnival. “Their training model is fascinating,” he said. “After the Costa Concordia, they spent a lot of time evaluating their bridge procedures. They went and studied the practices used at American Airlines. They took these home and absorbed key elements into their bridge management and training systems.”

Carnival changed the role of the ship’s captain, Coles said. Instead of leading from the front, he entrusts the control the ship to his officers. “This approach engenders trust in the team and gives the captain greatly enhanced situational awareness.”

Counterintuitively, the more efficient the automated system, the more crucial the human contribution made by the operators, Coles observes. “Humans are less involved, but their involvement becomes more critical.” This is known as the paradox of automation, where an error in an automated system multiplies until either it is fixed or the system shuts down.

Transas is preparing for the challenges of this automatic future by positioning simulation training as one of the four legs of its Thesis concept. “Simulator training is going to grow in importance as more and more routine aspects of vessel operation are automated,” said Coles.

A significant problem within the maritime industry is the temptation to find “workarounds” to standard operating procedures. Crew develop these behavioral adaptations to cope with unrealistic or impractical operational demands and challenges. The most common workarounds relate to reporting paperwork, personal protective equipment, work-rest hours, and navigational rules.

Airlines are far less tolerant of deviations from accepted practice, and aberrations are more likely to be challenged or reported. However, it is also fair to point out that the aviation industry has targeted reducing administrative duties in the cockpit through automation, while no such claim can be made in shipping; in fact, the opposite trend prevails, with new regulation driving more paperwork required by the bridge.

Maritime needs to challenge itself to accept automated reporting and monitoring, Coles suggests. Reducing the administrative burden on crews would have a significant positive impact on the ability to perform better.

Standardization in the aviation sector has been massively encouraged by the fact that only two major suppliers build civil aircraft, while ships and ships’ equipment come in all shapes and sizes. The competence of a ship’s crew may sometimes depend on their exposure to a particular maker’s equipment.

Marine equipment could be further standardized, making user interfaces easier to understand and more consistent, Coles suggests. This would lessen the time spent by crew on familiarisation, make training more ‘portable’, and cut the risk of operator error. All this points to safer operation.

For Coles, however, the aviation sector’s coordinated approach to traffic control systems provide the most telling opportunity to enhance the entire maritime safety culture. Air traffic control, after all, is acknowledged as pivotal to the safety of the skies and to smooth take-offs and landings.

“ATC can see situations develop more quickly than an air pilot relying on visual sighting or his instrumentation,” said the Transas CEO. “While ships move at a more sedate speed, the fact remains that the majority of collisions and incidents happen in busy shipping lanes and ports relatively close to land, so increased maritime traffic control and management could have a significant impact on safety.”

Transas already installs vessel traffic monitoring infrastructure around the world, from simple radar apparatus to full coastline management solutions covering half a dozen ports. But Coles identifies other drivers that he believes are already nudging maritime towards a more coordinated vessel management future. With geopolitical concerns rising, coastal states are likely to take a keener interest in monitoring and managing the passage of all ships through their territorial waters, he suggests.

“Flag states will be apprehensive about increased traffic in unmanned and drone ships passing through their economic waters — whatever their size — without knowing where they’re from and what they might be carrying. It seems logical to me that a government wishing to protect its waters will make the jump from monitoring to a desire for control.”

MAIB Release Report on the Grounding of bulk carrier Muros

The MAIB has released its latest report on the grounding of the Bulk Carrier Muros on 3rd December 2016. Summary as follows:

In the early hours of 3 December 2016, the bulk carrier Muros ran aground on Haisborough Sand, 8 miles off the Norfolk coast and the master’s attempts to manoeuvre the vessel clear were unsuccessful due to a falling tide. The vessel was re-floated 6 days later and was towed to Rotterdam for repair.

When Muros grounded, the vessel was following a passage plan shown on its electronic chart and display information system (ECDIS). The plan had recently been revised on the ECDIS by the officer of the watch (OOW) who then used the system to monitor the vessel’s position.

Safety Issues

  • The revised passage plan was unsafe
  • The visual check of the revised route was not conducted on the ECDIS at an appropriate scale
  • The master directed the OOW to revise the route but he did not see or approve it
  • ECDIS safeguards were ignored, overlooked or disabled
  • The OOW’s performance was probably adversely affected by a low state of alertness
  • ECDIS use on board Muros was not as envisaged by regulators or equipment manufacturers

Read The Full Report

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