Getting Started in Dynamic Positioning
DP operators are marine Deck officers with an extra accreditation. The path to obtaining a DP qualification starts with holding an officers rank & then completing the requisite training, which consists of an Induction course, a required amount of sea time, & a second Advanced Simulator course. In many cases, an officer hired on by a company running DP vessels will receive this training on the job, especially if starting as a Watchkeeper.
If a candidate is trying to break into the game on their own, by putting themself through the Induction course & then finding a company with which to complete their training, then the water gets murkier.
Experienced mariners & new watchkeepers alike can have trouble finding a vessel on which to gain the needed desk time. A trend is emerging where the induction course is completed but then they getting hired on to complete their ticket. It is the age old story, where you can’t get a job without experience but you can’t get experience without a job!
Experience in DP, like in any trade, needs to be built from the ground up.
No matter what kind of deep sea or other experience you have, when you step into the DP game employers are looking for DP time. Even if the individual holds a Masters licence they will generally be passed over in favour of the life long watchkeeping mate with 10 years of DP experience. There are plenty of sailors out there that have no aspirations to complete senior tickets & sail only as DPO’s which creates a bottle neck in the entry level positions.
A second obstacle for experienced mariners is that the junior DPO’s position is usually the junior watchkeeping position. It can be a bit of a shock to be once again responsible for chart corrections after sailing as Master for 20 years! Some people will refuse to do any of these duties even though they knew what they were getting into when they signed on. These sailors are not asked to do a second trip.
So how does one get the time?
There have been talks in the industry about the possibility of company sponsored training vessels. The capital required for this makes it a long shot, but perhaps in the future if there is a shortage of experienced operators this could be a possibility.
Many of the new Supply Boats are now equipped with DP. While this won’t offer any segment specific training (Rov, Dive, etc) it could allow you to get the required sea time. The risk here is that the operator comes off of the required 6 months & goes straight into a senior position on a class 2 or 3 vessel. Although he now holds an unlimited ticket, there is still much job specific experience to be gained before moving to SDPO.
Another option is Shuttle Tankers. When pumping & receiving oil offshore they will typically keep station on DP. These vessels will be equipped with redundant systems due to the nature of the work, so will provide valuable experience.
Cruise ships & some large cargo vessels are now being equipped with DP to aid in docking & mooring operations. If you have experience in one of these industries then a transfer to a DP equipped vessel would allow some time on the desk.
Persistance pays off.
Patience & persistance are important for those struggling to find a berth. Like any other segment of the industry half of the battle is being ready to go when the call comes. With little to no experience you need to keep your name on the top of the pile by continuously letting employers know you are available. Also, those willing to go offshore during the holidays should be able to pick up work on the spot market & log some required time.
Check out my Career Links section for links to employers & start to contact them. Establish a relationship & update them with your availability. When the stars align & their usual go-to operators are already offshore, that’s when you will get the call.
The Nautical Institute issues DP certificates.
IMCA has an excellent introduction to DP technology.
The Wikipedia Dynamic Positioning entry is a good read.
The International DP Operators Association is another great resource for both the experienced operator & those just getting into the game.
Finally, a great video explanation of dynamic positioning:
Tags: DP Time, Dynamic Positioning