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Training and Satisfying Regulations in a Covid-19 World

Training and Satisfying Regulations in a Covid-19 World

 This year we were all dealt the most disruptive blow many of us have ever experienced. The effect on the yachting and shipping industry has long lasting ramifications as owners and crews look for solutions to curb the spread and make the vessels safer, whilst maintaining regulatory compliance. Shutdowns around the world affected our industry and many mariners were left rudderless as plans were put on hold. The various flag states worked to extend deadlines and keep the mariners working as many of the maritime schools worked to provide online training to help the mariners continue to meet the regulatory requirements.

 With Covid-19 now part of the fabric of our society we now must determine a path forward to continue to progress in our careers and our education. STCW requires hands-on training and assessment so strictly distance learning is not an option for mariners. How do we achieve compliance but ensure we are safe? Onboard skill training and shoreside education have long been, and will continue to be, the mainstay of professional growth in our industry. A blended approach to learning will also continue to be part of that solution. Captains will have to work up a plan for their vessels and shoreside providers will have to work with local authorities to ensure they are operating in a safe manner. Changes will be made- they must be. There have long been standards for minimum classroom size and equipment kit in those classrooms, larger facilities will allow for more social distancing as those standards are complied with. Schools have to look at their facilities and not only ensure they have all the classrooms, equipment, simulators, and kit for the various classes but also make sure they are delivering those classes in a healthy environment. A few years ago, MPT remodeled and expanded their main Fort Lauderdale campus. One of the mandates was to not just make the building efficient and beautiful, but safe as well. Hospital grade air filtration systems and in-duct UV sterilizers were part of that effort, along with negative pressure common areas and classrooms that are large enough to provide separation for students. Class agencies such as RINA are developing BioTrust Certification protocols to help ensure that shoreside facilities and vessels have achieved a standard that supports healthy operations. More shoreside facilities and regulators will be working on similar solutions, and vessel designers are already talking about those issues as well.    

 Mariners are by nature travelers and routinely travel the world as part of their job, that will not change. What will change is how we interact with that world; new regulations are being developed that will address health and safety. The question remains- how can the mariner maintain their regulatory and professional goals with the limitations placed upon us? Not an easy question to answer but it is one that we must. I encourage each of us to not simply rely on the regulators to change the rules, or the designers to modify the vessels, or the schools to upgrade their facilities- I encourage each of us to start with our personal habits and take responsibility for how we choose to interact with the world. Make smart decisions, maintain your personal environment in a safe and clean manner, ensure that where you choose to go to school for your training has taken the steps necessary to help keep you safe, and lastly- work with your fellow crewmembers and classmates to keep each other safe. Terms like social distancing and face coverings are now in our lexicon, take the extra precautions to keep safe and keep working in the industry we all love. See the world, but let’s do it safely!