The Ship Manoeuvring Simulator Centre of Trondheim, Norway is the first training centre to have its navigation course certified to DNV’s ice navigation standard. “Representing the world’s only competence standard in this area we are stressing the importance that the additional challenges in Arctic waters must be met with a highly skilled crew,” says Jon Rysst, DNV’s regional manger of Norway, Finland and Baltics.
Certification by DNV means that the SMS course is developed, structured and delivered to a high pedagogical standard, and that the content meets or exceeds the DNV Standard of Competence for Ice Navigation. This is the world’s only competence standard available to the maritime industry.
"There is no doubt that there will be more ship traffic in the Arctic regions. Navigating safely in these ice-infected waters requires not only ice-strengthened and winterised ships, but also people skilled in operating in this challenging environment. Our standard spells out what is expected of them," emphasises Jon Rysst.
"This certificate is evidence that what we are doing upholds a high standard. We have raised the bar on international ice navigation training,” says Bård E. Bjørnsen Manager Engineering, Projects and Business development at SMS.
Increased icy traffic requires higher standards
Growth in Arctic operations means the maritime industry needs more seafarers fit for operating in this demanding region. Climate, political and economic changes are facilitating unprecedented access to the region, fuelling great expectations in the shipping, energy and mining sectors.
The trend is clear. Cruise ship activity in the region has doubled over the last six years, at the same time that oil shipments from the Russian Arctic have jumped from insignificance to 12 million tons per year. Demands on seafarers are increasing due to the changing profile of cold climate shipping. More ships are operating independent of icebreaker assistance and are calling at remote locations. As a result, today’s seafarers must be able to recognise ice types and judge ice conditions, interpret information from satellites, plan a safe route, and manoeuvre their ship safely in all types of ice conditions.
The DNV standard, published in 2008, specifies the competence requirements for officers responsible for navigating a commercial vessel in different ice conditions throughout the world, whether operating independently or with icebreaker assistance. It was developed in concert with 95 ice navigation experts from around the world, including representatives from all of the Arctic-rim countries.
A recent revision to the Seafarers’ Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Code provides some training guidance for ice operations, but the International Maritime Organization did not adopt proposals to establish minimum competency requirements for ship officers.