From Deckhand to Captain

From Deckhand to Captain

As a young twentysomething, you might not have your sights set on climbing the ranks from Deckhand to Captain. However, with the right attitude and love for the industry, this highly esteemed title may be a realistic goal.

Not for the faint hearted, the ambitious career path is taxing as it is rewarding. Read on as we discuss the high-level requirements for your professional journey from Deckhand to Captain.

Deckhand to Captain, Step 1:
Powerboat Level 2 and VHF / SRC marine radio certificate

Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Powerboat Level 2 (PB2) is an introductory powerboat training course. Also, considered a must-have in the industry because 98% of superyachts have watercraft on-board, such as jet skis and powerboats. The two-day course provides the skills and knowledge necessary to operate a powerboat up to 10 meters in length. Forming the basis of the International Certificate of Competence, this course covers,

  • Launching and recovery
  • Boat handling
  • Securing to a buoy
  • Anchoring
  • Leaving and coming alongside
  • Man overboard

A radio is an important piece of safety equipment on-board, which is why correct usage procedures are vital. The Short-Range Certificate (SRC) is the minimum qualification required to operate VHF (Very High Frequency) and DSC equipment (Digitised Message Broadcast). This includes both fixed and handheld equipment using international channels. On completion, the certification will enable unsupervised radio usage as well as the ability to supervise others usage. The one-day course will master the following,

  • Basic radio operation
  • Correct frequencies (channels) to be used
  • Distress, emergency and medical assistance procedures
  • Ship to shore calls
  • Digital Selective calling (DSC) using simulators
  • Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS)
  • Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBS)
  • Search and Rescue (SART)
Deckhand to Captain, Step 2:
RYA Day Skipper Theory Shorebased Certificate

Taught over 40 hours, this theoretical course will equip students with enough knowledge to navigate familiar waters by day. Providing a comprehensive introduction to cruising for inexperienced skippers, the course will also touch on the basics for lights, for night cruising. Course topics include,

  • The basics of seamanship
  • The essentials of coastal navigation and pilotage
  • Chartwork
  • Electronic charts
  • Position fixing
  • Plotting a course to steer
  • Weather forecasting and meteorology
  • Tides
  • Collision regulations
  • Construction, parts and equipment of a cruising boat
  • Emergency and safety procedures including distress calls, use of flares, safety harnesses, life jackets and life rafts.
Deckhand to Captain, Step 3:
RYA Intermediate Powerboat course

Building on previous RYA courses, this two-day course bridges the gap between PB2 and the Advanced Powerboat courses. It aims to teach the standard required to complete a short coastal passage by day on coastal waters using both traditional and electronic navigational techniques. More time is given to,

  • Planning a day cruise
  • Boat preparation
  • Boat handling
  • Pilotage
  • Passage making
  • Man overboard
Deckhand to Captain, Step 4:
RYA RADAR Operators course

Radar is the most versatile of all electronic navigation aids and is an important and effective tool. However, it can easily mislead those who don’t know how to adjust controls, understand its limitations, or interpret images correctly. As superyacht crew, the radar is generally used to conduct vessel tracking on a secondary radar screen during navigational watches. This one-day course assists in navigation and collision avoidance, covering

  • How the radar set works
  • How its adjustments and features affect the way it works
  • Target definition
  • Radar reflectors
  • Types of radar display
  • Radar plotting
  • The use of radar in navigation and collision avoidance
Deckhand to Captain, Step 5:
RYA Coastal Skipper/Yachtmaster Shorebased

The advanced theoretical course builds on the knowledge gained from the shorebased Day Skipper course. Taught over 40 hours, the content is designed to stretch navigational knowledge. Equipping skippers to navigate safely on coastal and offshore passages both during day and night, course syllabus includes

  • Position fixing
  • Course shaping and plotting
  • Tidal knowledge
  • Use of almanacs and admiralty publications
  • Electronic position finding equipment
  • Taking and interpreting forecasts
  • Plotting weather systems
  • Weather predictions using a barometer and by observation
  • Collision regulations
  • Customs and excise regulations for cruising abroad
Deckhand to Captain, Step 6:
RYA Advanced Powerboat course

By now, skippers should be confident and practiced coastal powerboater’s. The 2-day course is the pinnacle of the RYA Powerboat scheme and requires experience in coastal powerboating for several seasons. Navigation at planning speed, weather, other challenges, and undertaking a night time passage will be covered during the course. The course outline entails,

  • Preparation for Sea
  • Boat Handling
  • Passage Making and Responsibility as Skipper
  • Pilotage
  • Meteorology
  • Rules of the Road
  • Use of Engines
  • Emergency Situations
  • Night Cruising
Deckhand to Captain, Step 7:
RYA / MCA (Maritime Coastguard Agency) Advanced Powerboat Examination

The final step! This exam is a practical day and night time test of boat handling and navigation, in the type of craft applicable to the National Powerboat Scheme.

The entry requirements include,

  • Minimum age: 17
  • Knowledge of navigation and chart work to Coastal skipper level
  • RYA VHF radio license
  • First Aid at Sea Certificate (STCW)
  • Logged Sea Time, 30 days, 2 as skipper, 800 miles, 12-night hours.
  • Logged Sea Time if you hold the Advanced course certificate, 20 days, 2 as skipper, 400 logged miles and 12-night hours (in addition to the sea time on the course)

Hot tip! There is a big difference between a deckhand who gained their 800 miles through relevant practical experience vs cleaning the stainless steel.

Congratulations! You’re a qualified Skipper!

The MCA recognises this qualification and could result in a complete change of career direction, including an increase in responsibility, seniority and pay. The door is now open to work on vessels up to 24m in length, operating in category 3, 4, 5 and 6 waters – that is up to 20 miles from a safe haven – day & night.

Begin your journey from Deckhand to Captain

If you’re serious about your career, feel free to contact our affiliates PYA for personalized advice. PYA have options that suits your position within the professional yachting community.

We are not a yacht management company; rather  an extension of your crew, acting as a landbased bridge to your shoreside counterparts. Virtual Pursers – The future of seamlessly, effortlessly, and efficiently navigating yacht administration. For more information contact info@virtualpursers.com or call +44 203 514 0413.

Maritime Administration

Cyber Security IMO Regulations

Cyber Security IMO Regulations

Maritime Administration

Ignorance is bliss? Not when it comes to Cyber Security.

Technology plays a critical role in our daily lives. Technological advancements are blisteringly fast compared to previous years, which is why it has become an urgent topic of discussion. In this digital era of ubiquitous computing, organizations without Cyber Security are at risk. Land, air, water and cyber; it’s recognised as the fourth ground for nation-states. 

As the drive towards digital transformation continues to ceaselessly gather momentum, industries need to reassess their security strategies. By not properly protecting the attack surface, private and public sectors leave themselves exposed to possible breaches.

What is Cyber Security Management and why is it so important?

In short, all connected digital systems are prone to cyber-attacks. Expanding networking capabilities to all corners of our lives can make us more efficient, but more susceptible. 2020 catapulted industries online, with cyber security becoming a top priority for businesses. The pandemic has effectively become a catalyst for cyber security threats to rise exponentially, with all sectors being vulnerable. Connecting to the internet also means connecting to potential cyber threats. Attackers are always on the prowl to compromise systems. Generally, hackers are motivated by financial gain via corporate espionage or by acquiring personal data. Not having “top secret type government information” or “lifestyles of the rich and famous” does not make one untouchable.

Maritime Cyber Security Risk

While the threat is very real, the yachting industry has been quite lackadaisical until recently. Reality is – the fancier the yacht, the greater the risk. Adding complexities to ensure an immersive, bespoke experience, has resulted in modern superyachts closely resembling an enterprise-grade network. Vessels are more connected than ever before. Despite the cutting-edge technologies to allow for reliability, efficiency, and safety, cyber security seems to have fallen by the wayside. A breach is troubling in any business; however, consequences could be far more serious in the maritime environment. Don’t assume to know what hackers want. Money may not be the only motive, terrorism is a scary reality. “A successful breach of a vessel’s control systems can potential grant the assailant the ability to take control of bridge systems and control the vessel’s operational functions from anywhere in the world, in real time”, Super Yacht News

IMO Cyber Security Regulations

“When we talk about cyber security, it is not a matter of if you will be attacked but when. In order to deal with that, you should have a risk management approach on it and this what the IMO is introducing.” Mr. Chronis Kapalidis, Cyber Expert, HudsonAnalytix

Because of the ever-rising threat of an inevitable attack, the IMO has put cyber security regulations in place for compliance by 2021. The MSC-FAL.1/Circ.3 guidelines enforce a mechanism for dealing with risk rather than listing controls that should be implemented. Not reinventing the wheel, the IMO decided to build off established international frameworks for cyber risk management, adopting five functions that represent a holistic approach to cyber risk management: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, Recover. By taking this functional approach, captains and security officials have the flexibility to use their discretion to tailor a program that effectively meets the requirements of their vessel without becoming excessively onerous.

NIST Cyber Security Framework

Not industry or size specific, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (“CSF”) is a useful benchmark which the maritime industry can refer to when developing internal regulations and standards.

The CSF features five core functions,

  • Identify: Define personnel roles and responsibilities for cyber risk management and identify the systems, assets, data and capabilities that, when disrupted, pose risks to ship operations.
  • Protect: Implement risk control processes and measures, and contingency planning to protect against a cyber-event and ensure continuity of shipping operations.
  • Detect: Develop and implement activities necessary to detect a cyber event in a timely manner.
  • Respond: Develop and implement activities and plans to provide resilience and to restore systems necessary for shipping operations or services impaired due to a cyber-event.
  • Recover: Identify measures to back-up and restore cyber systems necessary for shipping operations impacted by a cyber-event.
Is your vessel ready for IMO’s Cyber Security compliance?

“It’s been decided that no later than the annual verification of each company’s Document of Compliance, the 1st of January 2021, all shipping companies will be mandated to ensure that cyber risks are appropriately addressed in existing safety management systems (as defined in the ISM Code)”, Pelion Consulting

With a strong background in the yachting sector, Virtual Pursers recommend Pelion Consulting to ensure Safety Management Systems are updated and ready for audit after the deadline date.

Maritime Administration Virtual Pursers are not a yacht management company; we are an extension of your crew and act as a landbased bridge to your shoreside counterparts. As trusted yachting professionals with 20 years combined industry experience, we are here to help as well as to keep you informed on relevant industry related news and updates! For more information contact info@virtualpursers.com or call +44 203 514 0413.

The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). What? Why? How?

The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).
What? Why? How?

Ashore, there are labour standards to protect employees. But what if you are working at sea? That is where the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) comes in. Shipping is a global industry, which explains the need for universal standards. What’s more, it is important that these standards are easy to understand, readily updateable and uniformly enforced.

What is Maritime Labour Convention?

The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) is the “fourth pillar” of the IMO’s international regulatory regime for quality shipping. This international agreement of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), sets out seafarers’ rights in accordance to decent conditions of work. Commonly referred to as the ‘Seafarers’ Bill of Rights’, the convention was adopted by government, employer and workers representatives at an ILO Conference in 2006.

The MLC covers all possible working and living conditions on-board including

• Minimum age

• Seafarers’ employment agreements

• Hours of work or rest

• Payment of wages

• Paid annual leave

• Repatriation at the end of contract

• On-board medical care

• The use of licensed private recruitment and placement services

• Accommodation, food and catering

• Health and safety protection and accident prevention and

• Seafarers’ complaint handling

Why is the Maritime Labour Convention so important?

Firstly, because it brings together international minimum standards in one central place. This assists with ensuring comprehensive worldwide protection for an estimated 1.5 million seafarers. Seafarers are essential to international trade and tourism. Under the MLC 2006 every seafarer has the right to:

• A safe and secure workplace that complies with safety standards

• Fair terms of employment

• Decent working and living conditions on-board a ship

• Health protection, medical care, welfare measures and other forms of social protection

Second, because it helps level the playing field. This allows fair competition for member states and shipowners operating under the flag of countries that have ratified. The goal is to ensure that adequate working conditions go hand in hand with fair competition.

Enforcing the Maritime Labour Convention

In 2013 the MLC became binding law for 30 countries. As of January 2019, a total of 90 countries ratified the MLC 2006. This means that 91% of the world’s shipping fleet is regulated.

On ratification, the state has 12 months to enforce and adhere to convention requirements. The flag state has the authority and responsibility to implement the global standards. Commercially operated ships, 500gt or over, covered by the MLC require a certificate of compliance from their flag state. The two specific documents required are the Maritime Labour Certificate (MLC) and the Declaration of Maritime Labour Compliance (DMLC). When ships enter the port of an MLC country, Port State Authorities will carry out an inspection for possible violations. Inspections are an important aspect of the convention and also apply to ships that don’t fly the flag of an MLC member state.

Ben Bailey, director of advocacy and regional engagement at The Mission to Seafarers reckons that the MLC has brought huge benefits to seafarers around the world. However, the fact that it is not in force everywhere means that too many crews are falling through the gap, particularly when they find themselves abandoned. A significant change to the convention would be for the international community to work to enforce the convention and to put pressure on those states which have not signed up to the MLC to do so”.

Facing MLC 2006 survey for the first time?

Here are a few important points to consider before requesting a surveyor onboard for inspection.

  • Ensure the DMLC-part-1 and DMLC-part-2, signed by the company’s DPA or manager, are always present and accessible on-board.
  • Seafarers should have the right to lodge a complaint directly with the master and also with appropriate external authorities when necessary. Ensure crew are provided with the on-board complaint procedure.
  • Ensure a signed copy of seafarer employment certificate is provided to all seafarers. Seafarer employment agreement (SEA), SEA should be in accordance with MLC 2006.
  • Collective Bargain Agreement must be available on-board. This document details all the terms and conditions of the crew employed on the ship.
  • Rest hour records, on-board work and watch-keeping schedules, must be up to date and on display.
  • Wage bill records and wage slips should be readily available with all crew in time of inspection.
  • Every vessel should have a mess committee on-board, conducting and recording regular meetings for crew suggestions and improvement of food prepared. Records must be available for the inspection of surveyor.
  • The inspector often checks the qualification certificates of the cook and catering staff. Ensure certificates of qualification and training of cooks is ready.
  • All crew members working on-board should be qualified and have all official documents as per STCW, flag state endorsements and equivalents. The minimum age limit for a person to work on board as per MLC-2006 is sixteen years. Ensure all the certificates are available along with the originals for inspection if asked.
  • Every seafarer has to submit medical certificate to the master. Medical certificates of crew on-board should be valid and meet the international standards required by ILO/ WHO guidelines. Ensure that the certificate is not expiring during the period of voyage.
  • Master must make sure the vessel adheres to safe manning requirements as issued by the flag state. A copy of safe manning certificate must be available.
  • A copy of Recruitment and Placement Service Certificate must be available and the manning agency should follow the guidelines of MLC-2006 and national labour laws for recruitment. In case of ownership employment a licensed manning agency is not necessary, provided that owner recruits as per MLC – 2006 and national labour laws recommendations.
  • Crew interviews will take place and cover working condition, food, treatment, facilities on-board and wages. Apart from this, questions may also probe crew’s knowledge on anything related and applicable.
  • The auditor will inspect housekeeping and hygiene, galley, mess room, dry and perishable provision stores, reefers, cabins and common toilets. These places should be neat, tidy and hygienic.
  • All-important certificates must be available for Inspection. Also make sure the IMO publications and other required documents are present on-board at the time of survey.

Maritime Labour Convention changes on the horizon

The MLC is considered a major milestone for global shipping environment in realising the rights of seafarers. However, there have been increasing calls for amendments to the convention in order to keep it up to date and relevant. The stresses associated with COVID-19 as well as technology advancements are just some of the factors that need to be addressed. The MLC is due to be amended in April 2021. All suggestions from signatories to the bill were submitted to the Geneva headquarters of the International Labour Organization (ILO) by 1 October 2020. Keep an eye on our info-hub for updates.

Virtual Pursers are not a yacht management company; we are an extension of your crew and act as a landbased bridge to your shoreside counterparts. As trusted yachting professionals with 20 years combined industry experience, we are here to help as well as to keep you informed on relevant industry related news and updates! For more information contact info@virtualpursers.com or call +44 203 514 0413.

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Recruitment

What is ISM?

What is ISM?


Recruitment

The History of ISM

Otherwise known as International Safety Management, the ISM code has been integral to the SOLAS convention since 1994. The regulation came about due to investigations into accidents revealing errors on the part of management. It all started in 1987 when the Maritime Safety Committee developed guidelines concerning shore-based management to ensure the safe operation of ro-ro passenger ferries.

From July 1998, compliance became mandatory to all commercially operated vessels of 500 GT and above, including commercial yachts.

The Purpose of ISM

Safety of personnel and protecting the ocean remain the marine industries top concerns. The purpose of ISM is to ensure and maintain an international standard of safety for seafarers and prevention of pollution. Providing universal guidelines for the safe management and operation of ships at sea, the ISM is a common platform across all nationalities. This safety protocol eliminates discrepancies ensuring all vessels adhere to global mandatory regulations.

Safety Management System (SMS) & the Designated Person Ashore (DPA)

To effectively implement safety policies as set out by the ISM, “the Company” must establish a SMS for the vessel. Of which, a copy of the SMS must be readily available on-board. Detailing all the important policies, practices, and procedures, the SMS ensures compliance with the mandatory safety regulations recommended by the IMO and concerned maritime organizations. Yacht management companies should develop, implement and maintain a Safety Management System (SMS). Every company is expected “to designate a person or persons ashore having direct access to the highest level of management” in order to provide a link between “the Company” and those on board.

ISM Code particularly requires that the SMS incorporate the following

  • A safety and environmental protection policy;
  • Instructions and procedures to ensure safe operation of ships and protection of the environment in compliance with relevant international and flag state legislation;
  • Defined levels of authority and lines of communication between and among shore and shipboard personnel;
  • Procedures for reporting accidents and non-conformity with the provisions of the Code;
  • Procedures to prepare for and respond to emergency situations; and
  • Procedures for internal audits and management reviews.
Document of Compliance (DOC)

When the Company is verified for complying with the ISM Code, they will receive a Document of Compliance (DOC). Valid for a period of five years, the DOC is subject to annual verification within three months before or after the anniversary date confirming the approved SMS.

Safety Management Certificate (SMC)

For a DOC, the company’s ships must first receive their SMC. A SMC verifies that the Company and its shipboard management are operating in accordance with the approved SMS. The certificate issued to an individual ship has a validity period of five years.

An internal and external audit determines the issue of both the DOC and SMC. The company and ships carry out the internal audits, whereas, every 2-3 years, the ships flag state performs the external audit. To qualify, a manual consisting of information, records, reports or statements, indicating implementation of SMS by the company and the ship is required. This manual serves as proof of evidence based on observations, measurements or tests made during the audit. Failure to uphold the requirements of the ISM code will result in non-conformity, posing as a serious threat and requiring immediate corrective action.

To find out more about the ISM Code check out the International Maritime Organization

Some think the ISM code is a best practice, but it’s a minimum standard. Although super yachts have been engineered to be highly safe boats. The most critical safety element is the crew! Working alongside yacht management companies, well trained crew are paramount to the safety of the boat and its occupants.

Virtual Pursers are not a yacht management company; we are an extension of your crew and act as a landbased bridge to your shoreside counterparts. As trusted yachting professionals with 20 years combined industry experience, we are here to help as well as to keep you informed on relevant industry related news and updates! For more information contact info@virtualpursers.com or call +44 203 514 0413.