Expedition Cruise Lines Likely To Face Shortage of Bridge Officers in 2023-2024

Simulation exercise

More and more expedition ships are coming online, and finding enough bridge officers to work on them will soon be a challenge, the CEO of 90 North Ice Consulting Jan Persson said, according to 2021 Expedition Market Report by Cruise Industry News.

“There will be an increasing demand for bridge officers. We'll see if there will be enough. I don't think there will, I think it will be a very hard time in 2023-2024 and after. It will become a growing problem then,” he said.

Persson explained that there are two courses for bridge officers: STCW and basic/advanced polar code course.

“The basic one is required for all bridge officers, and the advanced polar certificate is required for ship captains and chief officers only,” he stated.

The basic polar code course is a theoretical course that can be done in a training center.

"After that, they get to the STCW certificate, which is for a basic level, for all bridge officers,” Persson said.

The advanced polar code course requires completing hands-on activities.

“There’s a lot of practical exercises: how to read the ice, voyage planning, how to use the system that tells you what type of ice you're sailing in and its thickness. And also, there’s a simulator exercise where you are maneuvering vessels in different scenarios. There can be a passing iceberg entering into an ice field – you learn what to do if you get stuck and how to avoid getting stuck,” Persson explained.

The captains and chief officers who want to undertake the advanced polar code course are required to spend 60 days in polar waters.

“You can get the basic certificate directly after the course, but for an advanced certificate, you need to have spent 60 days in polar waters to be able to apply for that course. That is really good. It could probably be more days, but that is something,” Persson said.

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