The Project PDF Print E-mail

The reason for the project: The International standards for merchant navy education and training (MET) currently in place were introduced in 1995 (IMO STCW-95). Since 1995, there has been rapid revolution in design of ships and the equipment used in the navigation and propulsion systems on board these ships and yet there has been no serious attempt to revise the STCW and/or the International model courses such as IMO 7.03, 7.04, 7.01 and 7.02. One very important development has been the introduction of automation in operating a ship. The modern ships particularly container and fuel carrying vessels are becoming increasingly automated. The automation has brought with it two problems, one concerning the inadequacy of existing seafarers’ education and training viz., that if any aspects of automation fails the crew often are not trained to use alternative systems and hence respond to it effectively (IMO MSC 82, 2006; Ziarati, 2006). The second problem has arisen from the review of the arguments from recent IMO Maritime Safety Committee (reports MSC 82/15/2 and MSC 82/15/3, 2006) namely that the human operators rarely understand all the characteristics of automatic systems and these systems’ weaknesses and limitations which have now been found to be the main causes of accidents. The body of the proposal refers to several serious and recent accidents at sea due to automation failure. These reports concluded that there is a need to improve the content of all maritime training and that the knowledge, skills and understanding of automation should be included in the basic training of all Chapters of the STCW Code of practice and hence address this very serious issue at source. Furthermore, to address the second problem, it is considered feasible to gather the knowledge for inclusion in the existing seafarer’s education and Training in a short course format that can be easily introduced for existing seafarers and hence enabling the seamen currently working at sea and in ports to develop the competence to handle and respond to automation failures.

The main aim is to transfer the innovation already developed in the design, delivery and assessment of short courses in order to fill the gap created as the result of emergence and application of the automated systems in the education and training of seafarers by the provision of a training course enabling them to have a full understanding of automated systems and these systems’ weaknesses and limitations and receive International/European-wide recognition for it.

The partnership is composed of partners who have the necessary knowledge either on related aspects of automation or those who have developed software and/or hardware which are needed for the proposed short training programme in automation. The partnership is composed two small progressive high technology SMEs and several major merchant navy education and training (MET) institutions supported by their awarding, accrediting and/or certificating authorities. Some of the partners have recently been involved in harmonising and complementing the existing MET programmes in the EU (Safety On Sea, SOS 2005-07) and some have developed an innovative e-learning and assessment platform as part of current Leonardo Pilot project (E-GDMSS, 2006-2008). The platform has been successfully tested and evaluated using two groups of trainees composed of different people from different sector of maritime education and industrial sectors. The proposal instigator was the representative of IMarEST at recent IMO MSC (2006) and at the same time a member of a national delegation at the event. The contracting organisation is also involved with a Leonardo pilot project started in November 2007 named MarTEL concerning the transfer of innovation by reviewing the accidents and incidents and identifying causes of these accidents albeit primarily due to language competency. Several other countries would like to become involved with this proposed project including Greece which has one of the largest merchant navy fleet in Europe. The partners have collectively almost a complete range of bridge and engine simulators including fully integrated bridge-propulsion-power transmission, two with full mission capability incorporating high level of physical fidelity and different levels of severity. One of the partners is involved in the development of the next generation of simulators for marine diesel engines. Two major simulator system manufacturers (one largest in Europe) have agreed to support the project.

The main tangible outcome is a new course in automation with 8 modules, each concerning a particular level of depth in knowledge, skills and understating, for a given level of seniority and concerning a given job function. The second outcome is expected to be the intended adaptation of an e-learning platform with assessment facilities currently under development in E-GMDSS (2006) or use of an earlier platform developed in a previous EU funded project by one of the partners (Ziarati, 2002). The team building module may replace the existing non-standard, but on high demand courses such as Bridge Resource Management and Ship Handling. Since the intention is to adapt e-learning and e-assessment both in the training and learning methods, viz., self-learning and self-assessment tools, the project products, as stated earlier, will target a wider audience including active seafarers working on board automated vessels.

The main intangible outcome is that the course would provide an opportunity for many rating and officers with no or little knowledge of automation to acquire the necessary expertise and seek employment on board vessels with automated systems. The knowledge needed for example by Engineers and Deck officer on board a vessel has to match the complexity of the automated system and other related equipment they operate. To ensure this will be the case the course is designed to be a bolt-on programme and capable of being up-dated. There has been a shift from component based training to system-based training and the focus is on team operation viz., bringing the bridge team to work effectively as a team and in turn making sure that the Engine personnel and Deck crew work in harmony particularly in emergency situations. The latter consideration is as important today and it has been in the past. The e-learning and e-assessment tools and internet software interfaces already available will be adapted for application in delivery of the intended course/modules would be able to be applied in the delivery of other units of training and as self-learning/assessment tool.

Impact will be substantial as this project responds to an internationally acknowledged problem which the partnership is confident of resolving and since the social partners including employers and ship owners are involved in the proposed project the impact is expected to include widespread use of the course in partner (expected use of internet portals and e-learning and assessment - a transfer of knowledge from an existing Leonardo project EGMDSS, 2006 - 2008) and other EU countries and obtain recognition (a transfer from a recent successful Leonardo project Safety On Sea – SOS, 2005 – 2007) for it.