Dynamic Positioning from A to Z (Part III)


V. How to become a DP Operator

The stages in becoming a DPO are the following:The DP operator, (DPO) is the officer in charge of judging whether there is enough redundancy available at any given moment of the operation. In order to become a DPO a seafarer must first have his Deck Officer Certificate, whether he is a Watchkeeping Officer, a Chief Mate or a Master.

1. Complete the DP Basic/Induction Course. This course is meant to provide an introduction to the functions and use of dynamic positioning and involves both theory and practice on a simulated DP system and includes the following topics:

  •  Principles of DP
  •  Elements of the DP system
  •  Practical operation of the DP system
  •  DP operations
  • Power generation and supply and propulsion
  •  Position reference systems
  •  Environment sensors and ancillary equipment
  • After successfully completing the Induction/Basic course the attendant will be issued a DP Logbook in which the courses, seatime and experience as a DPO are recorded.

2. Complete a minimum 30 days DP Familiarization experience on a DP equipped vessel. During this period the applicant must complete a number of tasks which are to be documented in their logbook by the Master. Some of this tasks include:

  •  Setting the vessel up on DP
  •  Control vessel movement using Joystick Control
  •  Maneuver vessel in Auto-DP mode
  •  Understanding of PRS is use
  •  Understanding DP computer system

3. Attend the Simulator/Advanced Course which lasts, as the first one, about 4 to 5 days. Unlike the Basic course, this stage will focus more on practice instead of theory. This course gives the participants the opportunity to apply what they have learned in the Induction/Basic course and the seagoing DP familiarization and it involves stimulated DP operations, including errors, faults and failures. It covers the following topics:

  • DP alarms, warnings and emergency procedures
  • DP operations
  • Practical operation of the DP system

4. After successfully finishing the Simulator/Advanced course, the now Junior DPO must complete a minimum of 180 days supervised DP watch-keeping. After this period the trainee needs a Statement of Suitability from the Master of a DP Ship, according to which you he is properly trained and ready to stand an unsupervised DP watch. Only after the logbook is it may be submitted to the Nautical Institute for the issue of a certificate. If the watch keeping is done on a Class 1 DP vessel (has no redundancy and loss of position may occur in the event of a single fault), a limited certificate will be issued; otherwise there will be issued a full certificate. What all DPOs must know is that in order for the Certificate to remain valid they must have at least 6 months DP experience every 5 years, otherwise they will require to start over from the beginning.

VI. DP Training Centers

All DP training and certification schemes are operated by The Nautical Institute in London which issues logbooks to trainees, accredits training centers and controls the certifications issuance. There are currently a number of over 70 accredited training centers which conduct their courses within the requirements of The Nautical Institute scheme. In Europe, some of the training centers can be found in: Finland, Croatia, Russia, Norway, UK, Ukraine, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, The Netherlands, Poland, Germany and Latvia. A full list can be found on the official website of The Nautical Institute.

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