The effect of COVID-19 on the yachting and shipping industry has long-lasting ramifications as owners and crew look for solutions to curb the spread and make the vessels safer while 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 mariners working, as many of the maritime schools worked to provide online training to help mariners meet regulatory requirements. With COVID-19 now part of the fabric of our society, we must determine a way to progress in our careers and education. STCW requires hands-on training and assessment so strictly that distance learning is not an option for mariners.
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.
How do we achieve compliance but ensure we’re safe? Onboard skill training and shoreside education have long been 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.
There have long been standards for minimum classroom size and equipment kit in those classrooms; larger facilities must allow for more social distancing. Schools must ensure they have all the classrooms, equipment, simulators, and kits for the various classes, as well as make sure they’re safely delivering those classes in a healthy environment. A few years ago, MPT remodeled and expanded their main Fort Lauderdale campus. Beyond making the building efficient and beautiful, one of the mandates was safety. Hospital-grade air-filtration systems and in-duct UV sterilizers were part of that effort, along with negative pressure common areas and classrooms large enough to provide separation for students. Class agencies such as RINA are developing Biosafety Trust 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.
Mariners routinely travel the world as part of their job, and that will not change. What will change is how we interact with that world; new regulations are being developed to address health and safety. We shouldn’t simply rely on the regulators to change the rules, the designers to modify the vessels, or the schools to upgrade their facilities — our personal habits matter, and we need to take responsibility for how we interact with the world. Make smart decisions, maintain your personal environment in a safe manner, and ensure that your chosen training school has taken steps to keep you safe. Lastly, work with your fellow crewmembers and classmates to keep each other safe. See the world, but let’s do it safely!
This column is taken from the July 2020 issue of Dockwalk.