Annual Competency Assessing (8 to10 hours per tug master depending on skill levels)
SeaWays’ Competency Assessment is in two parts and is compliant with Resolution 8 of STCW’95 – “promotion of technical knowledge, skills and professionalism of seafarers”. There are two elements to the assessment:
SeaWays’ believe the Procedural Competency Assessment to be as important as the Operational Component, particularly since questions asked are chosen to prompt discussion of topical importance, e.g. “explain what JHA stands for, give an overview of how it works, and why it is important”. When procedural competency assessing SeaWays’ trainers do not look for word-perfect answers, though it is important that each tugmaster, as indeed his/her crew, has a thorough understanding of the subject.
From a tug company manager’s point of view, there is an on-going assurance that the SMS and associated procedures have been read annually by tugmasters and knowledge of the contents reinforced.
A significant benefit of SeaWays’ periodic Operational Procedural and Competency Assessments is that in the event of a tug being involved in a serious incident (such as incidents investigated and reported by authorities such as the MNZ, TAIC, MAIB, USCG or ATSB in Australia) the managing company can prove that their tugmasters have been professionally trained and skills maintained by way of a documented Annual Competency Assessment undertaken by a recognised marine industry consultant having the appropriate specialist skills and background.
Is this world of regulation and litigation we now operate in being able to conclusively prove Compliance & Competency is paramount.
- Operational Competency Assessments (“hands-on” and operational towage skills).
Operational Competency Assessments requires the undertaking of a set series of exercises generally referred to as the “Competency Circuit” and is carried out on the tug’s ‘normal’ controls, with the addition of use of the tug’s secondary controls, driving on one engine, emergency response in the case of engine failure when undertaking towage duties or when undertaking the berthing and or sailing of a ship.
It takes about 4 hours to operationally Competency Assess a tug master whose skills have been maintained at the desired SeaWays’ standard. If the tug-handling skills of a tug master have not been maintained to the required standard then training in the specific area of concern is given straight away so as to reach the desired standard, which is usually regained after about 2 hours intensive training.
In addition, if ‘Undertaking Harbour Towage’ is a component, the Competency Assessment Master then observes each tug master while undertaking towage operations and will offer advice and comment as required and answering questions that may arise.
- Procedural Competency Assessment (Safety Management Systems and procedural knowledge).
Procedural competency is achieved by way of a test of nine questions chosen at random from the tug managers SMS Manual. These and the results are recorded on an Assessment sheet.
The test and assessment for procedural competency and knowledge of the tug company’s QA SMS system generally takes about two hours and is an opportunity for the tug company to ensure that specific points and topical organisational issues are covered. SeaWays generally work to SMS’ based on the International Maritime Organisation ISM Code, and ISO standards. Masters must sign off as having read the SMS within the last 6 months. This gives assurance to the tug company that this is indeed taking place.