Adapting to the pressures of the current global economy whilst ensuring a safer, more secure and increasingly professional maritime industry represents a significant challenge. In tough times, investment in human capital is crucial, as is the need for retuning and re-aligning skills as operations become increasingly pronounced. The ‘human factor’ may be our greatest vulnerability, but at the same time, it offers a wealth of opportunity.
Take, for example, the ship to shore interface. An exportation LNG terminal that costs $3bn to build, with a ship alongside valued at $250m, discharging a cargo of LNG valued at say $20million, represents a significant asset and - by the same token - significant safety, security, environmental and financial risk.
These potential risks are amplified at this point in the supply chain because people with different skill sets are required to collaborate for a common goal, but are often restricted by their understanding of factors outside of their own role. Those onboard the ship have first hand practical knowledge and expertise but usually very little commercial experience. Equally, office personnel directing cargoes from A to B, chartering ships, opening letters of credit and bills of lading, handling insurance claims and the like can lack the practical understanding of their sea-faring colleagues. Working in these operational silos compromises the lubricity of the overall process; it exposes weaknesses that at best diminish efficiency and at worst threaten security. Both of which have serious implications for the bottom line.
Understanding the value of time is key for anyone aligned with jetty operations. Delays and interruptions of loading or discharge not only bare a price tag, but also have knock on effects. The ship’s officers may not fully understand the contractual importance of issuing a note of protest about a shore side delay or problem. The vessel controller located somewhere in an office may not understand the root cause of a breakdown that has rendered the Notice of Readiness invalid. Knowledge of both the commercial and operational implications of various scenarios enables more effective management of the consequences.
The LNG market exemplifies the criticality of effectively protecting a vessel when it arrives at a terminal and unloads its cargo. With new production plants coming online, new terminals being built and many vessels coming into service, the LNG sector has continued to grow - belying market trends in other commodities. And, as a relatively new sector that is growing swiftly, as it grows, so too does the requirement for professionally trained, qualified personnel.
The safety and security of LNG is aligned with the design and policing of regulations and codes such as the International Gas Carrier (IGC) Code, and classification society rules to ensure the inherent safety of gas carriers and their operation. But it is the skill and knowledge of those at the coalface that is depended upon to implement and facilitate.
The intricacies of the gas, oil and chemical markets are complicated and often inaccessible - LNG especially - yet it is important that shore-side personnel and staff in ship management offices, as well as seafarers, are properly trained - they too have a key role to play in upholding procedures and maintaining standards. Increasing both practical and commercial understanding will support the promotion of best practice, improve safety and security, as well as generating efficiencies.
To address this need, GAC Training & Service Solutions (GTSS) - a newly formed partnership between GAC and the National Maritime College of Ireland - has created courses for the chemical, oil, gas and dry bulk markets. The training has been specifically designed to empower and equip employees with the knowledge and confidence to provide safe and secure terminal and jetty operations, reducing the physical, environmental and financial risk synonymous with modern shipping and onshore services.
The overall objective is to enable people to better understand the drivers within the industry, blending practical and commercial skills, and ultimately improve their ability to perform their role in the value chain - both onshore and shipside.
Visualisation is often one of the main challenges to resonant training, so to combat this, a key feature of the GTSS courses is the use of virtual experiences created through the use of Return to Scene (R2S) digital imagery. Currently used by the police to recreate crime scenes, R2S pans 360 degrees in a vertical and horizontal plane to capture images such as inside LNG shore tanks, ships’ tanks, the cargo manifold, the cargo control room and the jetty. Using highly specialised cameras never before used for training purposes, R2S technology provides high-resolution images that are then interlinked to create a virtual walk through environment for trainees. The ability to zoom into ‘hot spots’ and embed files enables detailed viewing of technical or remote physical assets. R2S allows operations procedures, risk assessments, lessons learned and even assessment criteria to be linked and accessed onboard a vessel, platform or terminal.
In addition to computer-based training, the NMCI is fully equipped with state-of-the-art simulators, used for training navigation and engineering personnel. The simulators are Technologyfitted out with stations that allow instructors to control and monitor exercises, and to record students’ performance for post-training analysis. The NMCI has a plethora of simulators for navigational training: a 360 degree full-mission bridge simulator; a 270 degree full-mission bridge simulator; three auxiliary 150 degree bridge simulators; 12 x NARAS-O/Fleetwork simulators; two GMDSS simulator rooms, and a vessel traffic simulator at three control positions. Different ship models can be used in a variety of geographical locations with varying environmental conditions to create a range of life-like scenarios for students. Engine models can also be connected to ship’s-bridge simulators to replicate realistic on-board operating conditions. The marine engineering facilities at NMCI include a full mission engine room simulator with low and high-speed diesel engine models; 20 student workstations for engine room systems simulations, as well as liquid cargo handling and damage control simulators at ten student workstations. Cargo handling simulators covering chemical, product, LNG and LPG carriers, and also VLCCs are also available.
LNG tankers have booked over 100 million sailing miles without a major accident – an enviable safety record by anyone’s standards. Specialist training for all those involved in the business is not only fundamental to protecting this achievement, but also to minimising safety, security, environmental and financial risks.
Confucius said: “Learn without thinking begets ignorance. Think without learning is dangerous.” We rely upon our employees to do the best job that they can for the company; to make the right decisions and to take appropriate action on our behalf. With this expectation comes a responsibility to empower them to do so. Specialist training for all those involved in the business is fundamental to promoting best practice and efficiency whilst minimising threats to safety, security and revenue. In navigating shipping’s new world order, training must be heralded as one investment with the ability to effectively bridge the gap between ship and shore, ultimately safeguarding both revenue and reputation.GAC Training & Service Solutions
Former BG Group VP of Operations, Global LNG, Howard Candelet is the course designer for GAC Training & Service Solutions’ (GTSS) LNG module. GTSS is a new initiative that will provide innovative and cost saving training solutions for the LNG and tanker markets, as well as other commodity and maritime sectors. A joint venture between GAC and the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI), the partnership will provide expert delivery of a portfolio of training courses for both seafarers and shore-based shipping personnel at the state-of-the-art $100 million training facility at NMCI in Cork, Ireland.
For further information please visit: www.gacworld.com